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Notes on the Geography of Australia: Uluru/Ayers Rock: Photo 7

world pictures Australia: Uluru/Ayers Rock

Plainly (a word chosen to smooth your skepticism), the rock is sedimentary, technically an arkose sandstone composed of granitic sand. Geologists have worked out much of the history. They report that a Precambrian sea loaded Central Australia's Amadeus Basin with a layer of mud, sand, and gravel about 2 miles thick. During the Cambrian, these lithified beds were warped by the Petermann Ranges Orogeny and formed mountains that began eroding and creating an immense alluvial fan in a new inland sea. A second mountain-building episode about 300 million years ago--the Alice Springs Orogeny--rotated the alluvial fan into a nearly vertical position. The land surface was then much higher than at present, but erosion went to work. Can wind do so much? It didn't have to: until 500,000 years ago, this place wasn't dry.

See I.P. Sweet and I.H. Crick, Uluru and Kata Tjuta: a Geological History, 2001.

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