Red mountains and crescent bays of Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Map, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, Freycinet, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia, hiking, bushwalking, outline, location, distance

Map of Freycinet Peninsula (Circuit) – Tasmania, Australia (© State of Tasmania)

Intro: Freycinet Peninsula is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Tasmania. Just look on any pamphlet for the island state and you will more than likely find a photo of the stunning (and appropriately named), Wineglass Bay. What makes Freycinet so beautiful can be traced back to the geology and geomorphology of the area. I recently did a multi-day hike along the Peninsula (i.e., the Freycinet Peninsula Circuit), which consists of a counterclockwise circuit, starting from Coles Bay and ending at Mt. Amos. In this post I will share some of the insights in the glowing red mountains and sparkling blue beaches that make this place so alluring.

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Hazard’s Beach (left) and Wineglass Bay (right) from the top of Mt. Graham – Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia

Science Spiel: Glowing mountains and wine glass shaped beaches (Geology, Geomorphology)

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking, wallaby

Just another wallaby (they are everywhere!) hanging out by an outcrop of red granite at Hazard’s Beach – Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia

Freycinet Peninsula is composed of large granite bodies. They are Devonian in age, and are a striking difference to the other main geological units that comprise most of Tasmania (i.e., the young, prominent Jurassic dolerite and the old, deformed Precambrian quartzite). There are two major types of granites, I-type and S-type. They are classified this way in regards to their molten source being either igneous (I) or sedimentary (S). The I-type granites are enriched in sodium and calcium, and have the mineral hornblende. S-type granites are depleted in sodium but enriched in aluminum, they typically have the minerals muscovite, biotite, corundum and garnet. On the Freycinet Peninsula, granites are mostly S-type, and they range from equigranular to porphyritic, with large K-feldspar crystals (Groves, 1967). In fact, the K-feldspar-rich composition of the granites is what gives them their characteristic red appearance, which appears to be amplified when the sunset light hits Mt. Amos and the Hazards mountains. Granites here are also more radioactive than other granites in Australian, due to significant amount of U and Th. This isn’t, however, a contributing factor to the famous red glow at sunset!

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking

Prominentc red glow of the Hazards and Mt. Amos granite mountains at sunset at Freycinet National Park – Tasmania, Australia

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Cartoon showing how the Freycinet granites formed, and then got uplifted and eroded (Parks Tasmania, 2016)

These granites have curved, domal surfaces which is a characteristic feature of granites called “onion skin” weathering (e.g., sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro). This is caused by exfoliation from elastic expansion and contraction of the rock, which causes outer slabs “skin” of the rock to fall off, which exposes fresher surfaces that haven’t been discoloured yet due to weathering processes. Pre-existing joints and faults also get weathered out more easily, which aids in making and defining the rounded boulders.

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking, wallaby

Brilliant blue water on an granite beach near Cooks Beach – Freycinet, Tasmania

Beside the rocks, the other remarkable landscape of Freycinet is the white sand, blue water, crescent-shaped beaches. Some of the most popular are Hazard’s Bay and Wineglass Bay. Bays are semi-enclosed bodies of water, commonly in a crescent shape (hence the characteristic “wineglass” shape), with calmer water than the surrounding ocean. This is due to headlands on either side of the Bay which reduces wind and blocks and refracts waves into the bay. The beautiful white sand that composes the beaches can also be attributed to the granite rocks, as the most of the quartz sand grains likely came from erosion of the quartz-rich granite bodies.

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking

The famous Wineglass-shaped Wineglass Bay of Freycinet Peninsula (view from the top of Mt. Freycinet) – Tasmania, Australia

Final Thoughts: While the mountains at Freycinet aren’t as rugged as those in the southwest of Tasmania, the domal-shaped granites definitely hold their own magical allure. It isn’t a surprise why Freycinet is regarded as one of the must-see places in Tasmania. Freycinet National Park is easily accessible driving from Hobart, with only a short hike to the lookout of Wineglass Bay. I, however, also highly recommend the Freycinet Peninsula Circuit 3-day hike. Both are great ways to experience (and hopefully appreciate) the granite mountains and crescent-shaped beaches that define this place!

-Stephanie

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Hiking group photo, from the top of Mt. Freycinet, with Wineglass Bay in background – Freycinet, Tasmania

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking, wallaby, Freycinet circuit

View (looking south) of Schouten Island from the top of Mt. Freycinet – Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania, Australia, Travel, Geology, Geomorphology, Adventure, Blog, Rocks, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet, National Park, photography, explore, outdoors, nature, science, geoscience, ocean, shore, granites, wineglass bay, Mt. Amos, Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, hiking, bushwalking, wallaby, Freycinet circuit

Wineglass Bay, looking toward Mt. Amos – Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia

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Conquering the top of Australia and classic geology in New South Wales

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Location of Mt. Koscuiszko and New South Wales (NSW), Australia

Intro: Entering the world of academia comes the exciting but terrifying ordeal of presenting research at conferences. Although this was the purpose of my visit to New South Wales (NSW), located in south west Australia, I will save my research details for another post and instead highlight some of the classic geology I was able to encounter on the coast of NSW during my travels. Before trekking to the coast, a “hike” up to the tallest “mountain” in Australia was necessary, as I initially started my journey in Thredbo, NSW. In Thredbo lies one of Australia’s ski resorts and the great Mt. Koscuiszko, highest mountain of them all in Australia!

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The tallest “mountain” in Australia, Mt. Koscuiszko…

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My Canadian flag at the top of Australia (i.e. Mt. Koscuiszko)

At a towering 2228m and a grueling gradual incline of 10° for a couple hours toward the top, well… sorry but coming from a Canadian… it’s was a nice try for a mountain Australia, nice try. At least I conquered it, put up my country flag, and can start my highest-mountain-on-each-continent list by checking off Australia… so I’m pretty much ready for Everest now I assume? After that is was a drive down to the coast and a look at some textbook examples of structural geology.

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Conquering Australia… i.e. tallest peak, Mt. Koscuiszko

Science Spiel: Veins, Dykes, Beds, and Folds (GeologyStructural Geology)

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En echelon bedding parallel quartz veins indicative of vein formation via shear-sense to top-left (of photo) – Haycock Point, NSW, Australia

While a little different than my usual posts about the geology, geomorphology, etc. of a certain area, I instead am going to try and be a bit random and show some isolated, but great outcrops that convey classic concepts in geology. First up are veins; a fracture with hydrothermal mineral infill (and commonly precious minerals like gold). What is important about veins are their internal crystals growth and external shapes can tell you about the direction of opening and displacement of the vein, and therefore what the original stress and shear forces were during formation.

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Large quartz vein and smaller oblique veins with quartz crystal elongation (indicative of vein formation via shear-sense to top-right) – Haycock Point, NSW, Australia

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Mafic (basalt) dyke with offset and abrupt termination – Bingie Bingie Point, NSW, Australia

From veins to dykes, somewhat similar concepts apply, but instead of hydrothermal mineral infill, it’s (usual, but not always) an igneous magma. Strange features can occur however when you get magma mingling of partly molten magmas, such as the features at Bingie Bingie Point. Here igneous intrusive appear to have obscured and transitional margins, and cross-cutting small mafic dykes appear to “jump” and step-over during their initial emplacement.

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Flame “injection” structures of “mud into sand” within Ordovician turbidites (younging direction upwards) – Potato Point, NSW, Australia

Well, now that I mention jumping, I will “jump” over to the world of sedimentary geology where layers of sands and muds are deposited in a much “cooler” environment. When you imagine a shoreline-type setting, over hundreds to thousands (+) years, different size sediments are deposited from natural processes, such as waves and winds, these will be deposited and eroded to form typical sedimentary structure turbidites and “Bouma” sequences (Powell, 1983a). When you get density differences over layers, like between mud and sand, some neat features can form like flame structures, which form from upward injection of mud into sandstone. Not only cool looking features, but they tell you about the stratigraphic way-up in units, important as things over time seem can get turned around and folded over…

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Flame “injection” structures formed by density differences in the underlying mudstone and ovelying sandstone in Ordovician turbidites (younging direction upwards) – Potato Point, NSW, Australia

…which leads to the final “neat structural geology examples” in this post (it appears my randomness actually isn’t too bad from one concept to the next, if you don’t mind the korny segways). As different compressive stress orientations can change in the earth, original horizontal laid-down layers can be contorted and overturned. Sometimes you get tight, sharp V-shaped “chevron” folds, and other times you can get folds re-folding folds!

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Multiple events of folds and re-folded folds within rocks near Melville Point – New South Wales, Australia

Final Thoughts:

Alright, now, there’s a whole lot more detail and analysis that goes into understanding each of these features, however, for the sake of this blog post I will leave it there. As for my thoughts, well I already expressed my feelings towards “Mount” Koscuiszko … however I did enjoy the area of Threbdo where it is located, and the trip to the coast of NSW was beautiful. Having not really been to too many places in Australia outside Tasmania it was fantastic to see beach after beach, each open and empty with white side, big waves, and very cool rocks!

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Beautiful empty beaches along the coast of New South Wales, Australia

I wasn’t expecting to see such classic geology examples down there, but it brought me back memories of undergrad and new thoughts and ideas, as just when you think you fully understand something about geology and earth science, you question it and realize you don’t. Well, at least that’s how I feel sometimes, but that’s make it always interesting in my opinion I guess, cheers!

-Stephanie

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From Canada to Croatia; Geology behind the white pebbles and Game of Thrones link

Croatia

Intro: Well, I decided to do a little travelling – very last minute and quite unplanned. Prior to this, I have yet to leave North America; and by that I really mean Canada with a trip to California/Hawaii once or twice. Thus going to Europe for September was defiantly going to be, if anything, the longest plane ride in my life so far! A tentative arrangement of an Eastern(ish) Europe trip of Croatia-Slovenia-Switzerland and “we’ll see after that” was the idea. It’s a little stressful at the start but as long as you stay calm and positive, and have excess to wifi, then it’s really not too bad to plan whilst travelling and book your stays several days before you arrive.

So with a long flight across the pond I landed in London where I met up with my sister. She was traveling in Europe for most of the summer already, and is a video-blogger on YouTube. You can see her video of our Croatia trip here.

Dubrovnik Croatia Walls Ocean Mediterranean Seaside Old Town Travel Culture Adventure Europe

Myself (top) and my sister Nadine (bottom) in Dubrovnik, Croatia

With a short night in London we flew early the next morning to Croatia. Once there the plan was simple, go from South to North – Dubrovnik to Split – with some sunny, Croatian island hoping in-between.

Croatia Map

Map of Croatia with our route in red. Giant rabbit because of island hopping… get it? Island hopping?? I’m sorry for that…

Croatia has lots to offer, and with such a far-reaching Mediterranean coast, and copious islands, there is a lot to choose from, but I’m going to highlight Dubrovnik and investigate into its highly fortified, white stone-red roof old town a bit more for you.

Dubrovnik Croatia Walls Ocean Mediterranean Seaside red roofs Old Town Travel Culture Adventure Europe

Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia

Science-Spiel: White Rocks with Lime (Geology)

From the low rolling hill to the cobble street stones in Dubrovnik, the most obvious feature is the colour, or lack-of colour I should say. These white and beige rocks make up the majority of the Croatian coast, known as Croatian limestone. And their composition? Well, clearly lime, slightly more popular then it’s counterpart lemonstone… Ok, not really. It’s actually made of dead sea animals – seriously.

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White hills along the Coast of Dubrovnik to the Croatian island of Korcula

Through time shells and skeletons of marine organism accumulate and compress, enough time later limestone is eventually formed. The Croatian limestone is roughly Jurassic-Cretaceous (200-65 million years) in age, so back when the dinosaurs were around this coastline would have been underwater, in a shallow sea environment much like the vast coral reeves off the Australian coast nowadays.

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Croatian Beach Pebbles

Over time these rocks have been easily rounded and smoothened (due to the ‘soft’ nature of limestone, containing high % of calcite, which is a mineral that erodes very easily with slightly acidic rain). These pebbles make up most of the famous Croatian beaches, such as on Bol, and give rise to a crystal clear beach side! Much nicer than the dirty ‘sandy’ beaches people are always raving about…

Why-You-Might-Recognize-It: A City for Kings (Game of Thrones)

I was super excited when I found out my current favorite TV show is filmed here in Dubrovnik. I even emailed the casting agency to see if I could be an extra, but sadly they were not filming at the same time we were there 🙁 The eye-catching orange roofs, high encompassing walls, and ocean side locality make Dubrovnik’s old town the ideal place for the setting of King’s Landing in A Game of Thrones.

Concept art for the city of King’s Landing in A Song of Fire and Ice Game of Thrones Dubrovnik Croatia Europe Movie Filming Location Travel

Concept art for the city of King’s Landing in A Song of Fire and Ice (i.e. Game of Thrones)

The iron throne and all the quarrel of the books/show revolve around the control of this city, where keys events like Ned’s Beheading, PW, Blackwater, etc. all take place. So to be able to explore and see it irl was pretty wicked.

Dubrovnik Croatia Walls seaside Ocean Mediterranean Seaside red roofs Old Town Travel Culture Adventure Europe

Dubrovnik’s old town walls and oceanside fortifications, Croatia (Europe)

Final Thoughts: 

From the authentic structures of Dubrovnik’s old town walls to the clear ocean and white pebble beaches, I was pleasantly surprised by the lesser know (well, by North American to my understanding, it seems to be the “Hawaii” of Europe to the Europeans…) Mediterranean gem of Croatia’s islands and coast. Next stop, northward to family ties in Slovenia.

-Stephanie

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Dubrovnik Croatia Walls seaside Ocean Mediterranean Seaside red roofs Old Town Travel Culture Adventure Europe

Dubrovnik’s old town walls and oceanside fortifications, Croatia (Europe)

Dubrovnik Croatia Walls seaside Ocean Mediterranean Seaside red roofs Old Town Travel Culture Adventure Europe

Dubrovnik’s old town walls and oceanside fortifications, Croatia (Europe)

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