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david kirk
2007-06-29 16:44:44
Bleck Cra's blowhole
I thought I was too old to go humping up Binnian for the millionth time but for someone with an involvement in Irish geology and a concern for the conservation of the Mournes Bleck Cra's picture of the 'explosive vandalism' of the North Tor last month was too intriguing. Vandalism it certainly is but not the mindless type which is the speciality of 'our wee province' - this is vandalism with intent, ie the pursuit of filthy lucre. The hole in the centre of the damaged area opens into a drusy cavity, a gas-filled 'bubble' in the still fluid granite which allowed crystals of quartz etc to grow to their full beauty as the molten rock solidified 60 million years ago. Erosion since the ice-age had opened it up. Professional mineral collectors, with an eye to the gem-stone market, know what to look for and some are are pretty unscrupulous as to how they get at it. In this case if you look carefully you can see the ring of holes drilled into the rock face to take the explosive charges which caused the damage. Fortunately, they didn't get much, their efforts only blew the skin off the rock face. As drusy cavities go this is a cracker, more than a metre deep with the treasures beyond their avaricious reach, and the crystals can be seen, although dulled by countless millenia of being used by sheltering animals and birds.
To extend the topic - this is a shameful piece of vandalism - the sort of thing that the enhanced environmental protection that a national park for Mourne, which Bleck Cra seems to have problems with, could help prevent. Opposition to a Park is being led by, and orchestrated by, people with commercial interests no more worthy than this - people who want to build wind-farms in Mourne, who build multi-storey apartment blocks of Rostrevor seafront and Southfork excecrences in the foothills and who are winding the local farmers up to hysteria with fears for their autonomy. The farmers of Mourne have nothing to lose and everything to gain, by the opportunities offered by a National Park
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