The past several weeks have really flown by here. My first week in New Zealand was spent working at the University of Otago in Dunedin where my adviser is taking his sabbatical. My work in Otago is slightly different from what I was doing in Antarctica (and it is much more lab-based).
While in Dunedin I am staying with my adviser who lives on Baldwin Street. This modest little street’s claim to fame is that it is literally the steepest street in the world at a 35% gradient! As we turned the corner to Baldwin after Yo picked me up at the train station, I was at a loss for words. Pictures do not do it justice. However, it is pretty funny to see the sharp angle of fences and houses that line the streets.
This past week my mother arrived to hang out with me a bit before her race in Taupo, NZ (she’s racing the ironman in about a month!) This past weekend, we decided to get out of Dunedin a bit to visit the Moeraki boulders. These rocks are truly unique. They form as calcite concretions due to calcite precipitation around any bit of material such as a shell, piece of wood, or fossils, which acts as a seed crystal that encourages mineral precipitation. Concretions by definition are sedimentary rock (ie. mudstone, sandstone, etc) that has mineral cement (in this case calcite) that forms between the grains.
The Moeraki boulders are up to 2 meters in diameter and commonly form calcite, and less commonly dolomite or quartz, veins throughout the boulders. It was interesting to hike up along the dunes behind the beach, where you can see partially exhumed boulder in the mudstone. As the elements continue to weather the rock unit, the boulders will continue to roll out onto the beach!But yes, you are probably saying, “enough science now, I want some pictures!”
Finally, one of my co-workers at the University of Otago (affectionally called the "Uni") said that any trip to Dunedin is not complete without at tour of the Speight's Beer Factory. Speights Beer is "the pride of the South" and is ubiquitous throughout the South Island! So, after work last week, we went to take a tour of the brewery. It was actually pretty interesting to see all of the stages of beer brewing, from mineral spring (where speights gets the waters for its beer) to the bottle!