3: Geo-heritage Initiatives



The branch has an active and on-going commitment to public education and geo-conservation. In the past the branch prepared and published a series of one page fold-out pamphlets on sites of geological interest in the Western Cape.  These  were published though the sponsorship of SANLAM thanks to efforts of especially Mr Coenie de Beer (Council for Geoscience) and Mr David Le Roux (SANLAM). They are still available through the Council for Geoscience as a series of colour brochures in both English and Afrikaans, as well as in isiXhosa (Table Mountain).   The Geo-heritage sub-committee of the branch also installed galvanised explanatory boards, normally on plinths, at the geosites locations - the example below is the one at Paarl rock. There is a similar one at Sea Point illustrating the geologically important Sea Point contact. 

The present GeoHeritage Subcommittee consists of: 

  • Doug Cole (Chairman)
  • John Rogers (Secretary)
  • Coenie de Beer
  • Claire Browning
  • Dave Roberts
  • David Le Roux
  • George Smith
  • Len Gardner
  • Wendy Taylor
The branch is also actively involved in an initiative of the Mother Society (GSSA) to train local tour guides in a basic understanding of the geology of the region (This is particularly important in an area like the Cape Peninsula) and to keep a register of qualified geological guides who would be available where needed. It also works with the Council for Geoscience and the Geological Society of South Africa to set up a database of geosites with descriptions, coordinates etc.  For more information on Geoheritage activities, or to get involved in geoheritage intiatives,  please contact the Branch Secretary.

The pamphlets

The Sub-committee is currently digitizing and revising the original pamphlets for free download on this website as well as wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page).  The idea is to make them freely available to anyone who is interested in learning more about the rocks beneath their feet. As such the pamphlets are free for download  by tourists, geologists, non-geologists, school children and the general public. The preparation of pamphlets for new sites, including possible new Geoparks, is an ongoing process

Locations of Geosites on Google Earth.

The following is a list of GeoSites proposed by the Sub-Committee. This is a work in progress and not all of these GeoSites have reached the plaque-on-plinth or brochure level yet. 

Table Mountain: Brochures in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.  Plaques on the walls of the Lower Cable Station and the Upper Cable Station, are currently about to be moved by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company to better locations, where the tourists are moving slowly in queues with time to study them. Currently available for download: Table Mountain.  

Sea Point Contact:  Brochures in English and Afrikaans.  Our plaque and its granite plinth has survived, but we had a major input in arranging for the City Council, led by Alderman J.P. Smith, to not only replace the bronze National Monument Commission plaques that were stolen in 2005, but to use an aluminium-like plastic material to frustrate the vandals.  In addition, the City Council plaques have added an isiXhosa translation, provided by a UCT postgraduate, as well as a drawing of H.M.S. Beagle to commemorate the visit to the contact, in 1836, of Charles Darwin.  The new City Council plaques were unveiled on the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin on 12th February, 2009.  Professor Dave Reid gave a rousing address at the unveiling, which was attended by Subcommittee members.

Chapman’s Peak Drive:  Brochures in English and Afrikaans.  The original plaque was removed for safekeeping by the contractors during the major, years-long, rehabilitation of the Table Mountain Group sandstones above Chapman’s Peak Drive, but the Graafwater Formation outcrop described in the plaque was beside a layby which has now been itself closed off.  Plans are now afoot to have a new sign erected at the upper viewing site opposite The Sentinel. Currently available for download: Chapman's Peak.

Hout Bay Manganese Mine:  No brochure was produced, although the text was finalised.  However, a plaque and granite plinth were installed at the western end of Hout Bay Beach, near the letterbox beside Fisherman’s Wharf to allow one to look eastward across the bay to the adit on the lower slopes of Constantiaberg.  We are also in touch with the Hout Bay Museum whose curators are busy with a major upgrade of their museum, which includes excellent samples of manganese ore from the short-lived mine.

Paarl Mountain:  Brochure in English and Afrikaans.  A plaque and plinth were erected beside the summit of Paarl Rock on the edge of a small parking area, but it has been vandalised a few times and has therefore had to be replaced.  From the site there is a fine view towards Bretagne Rock, the highest point on the exhumed Paarl Granite Pluton. Currently available for download: Paarl Mountain.  

Brandvlei Hot Springs:  Brochures in English and Afrikaans.  No plaque and plinth has been erected beside the hot spring, which is now inaccessible to law-abiding citizens as a prison has been built around it!  Currently available for download: Brandvlei .  

Cogman’s Kloof:  Brochures in English and Afrikaans.  In this case our plaque was erected on a sandstone outcrop, below subvertical sandstones of the Peninsula Formation, beside the small parking area, between Ashton and Montagu, on the northern side of the short tunnel in the middle of the kloof. Currently available for download: Cogmans Kloof.

Oorlogskloof Glacial Pavement: Brochures in English and Afrikaans.  A plaque and plinth were erected beside grooves caused by movement of the Dwyka icesheet, just south of Nieuwoudtville, east of VanRhynsdorp at the northern tip of the Cedarberg.

Gansfontein Palaeosurface (Fossil trackways):  Brochures in English and Afrikaans, but in a different format from those sponsored by SANLAM.  On this farm, near Fraserburg in the Karoo, NW of Beaufort West, sets of tracks of two types of Permian reptiles are preserved.  A plinth and a plaque were erected.

Langebaan Lagoon:  Efforts to finalise this GeoSite have been revived and a plaque is planned for the Seeberg viewsite on a pluton of porphyritic granite overlooking the lagoon from east to west.  We have strong support, from Namakwa Sands, the management of the West Coast National Park and their Honorary Rangers, who have recently erected a suite of top-quality posters, on all aspects of the lagoon, including geology, archaeology and anthropology (Late Pleistocene human footprints) south of Kraalbaai and the Preekstoel, where the human footprints were found by Dr Dave Roberts of the Council for Geoscience.

Robben Island:  A brochure has been prepared to showcase the meticulous work of the Council for Geoscience, both onshore and offshore.

We appeal to all Branch members to send us digital, dated photographs of the plaques and plinths as they encounter them, so that we can monitor their condition as time goes on. We would also welcome any branch member who might like to be part of this initiative to join the group and assist with the work.