Dome Day


Facebook post 6 April 2024

Hurling a rock into a sandbox is one way to demonstrate what a meteorite impacts looks like. But more impressive is to see the Vredefort Dome spread out in front of your eyes. From horizon to horizon the undulating landscape is merely the centre of a truly vast crater in the heart of South Africa.

Our school tours are growing in popularity as educators seek ways to show learners the amazing land we live in. Crater tours can cover geography, physics, hydrology, ecology, tourism and planetary evolution.

Not all at once! – but what we’ve developed over the years is a suite of activities and talks that get the youngsters out of the classroom into nature.

And it is a beautiful area. Just be aware: the Vredefort Dome is not at Vredefort and it is not what you’d think of as a Dome, it’s flat. Geologists call the huge plug of granite that came up to fill the cavity made by the asteroid a Dome, but on the surface it’s fairly flat. And Vredefort is just the town closest to the centre.

Learners are perhaps stunned by what they see in the great outdoors. Many are from purely urban backgrounds with little or no experience of hiking, sight-seeing, getting dirty and wet, and hearing and seeing lecturers whose lives are spent doing fresh research. Sessions are interactive. Visual aids like the sandbox demo make everyone sit up – especially as they are sprayed with sand from the impact!

Fellow tour guides Christo Meyer, Karen Addison and I have developed a varied programme, complementing each other’s knowledge and passion for conservation. With two large groups from Langenhoven high school in Pretoria, we covered river dynamics, geomorphology and rock types. Assisted by Selma Kok, Michael Maliele and Its’Marvin Gomba the day unfolded as planned despite bouts of heavy rain.

Jarrett Barr did a masterful job preparing the visual aids. As we had no TV screen at the bush lapa we used a convenient crater-shaped fire circle plus layers of sand, pebbles and flour to represent Dome geology.

Christo displayed numerous rock samples including beautiful quartzites from the Wiitwatersrand. The pink streaky rock shows years of river deposits in ancient deltas, while the rippled exhibit captured wave motions on a beach.

Karen got the matrics to transport clean water to a polluted sink, tapping it off to show the health threats and wastage that worsens our already serious water scarcity.

Naturally, the teenagers who hiked up the mountain complained about the effort. Once they got to the top they were very pleased with themselves and went up in their own estimation.

Dome EduAdventures, +27 84 245 2490 or +27 72 475 8767.