Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand : a report comprising the results of official explorations
Exploration of the Malvern Hills and Mount Torlesse, 1861
Exploration of the Malvern Hills and Mount Torlesse, 1861.
The Provincial Government being very anxious that I should undertake an examination of the Malvern Hills as soon as possible, I started again, in the middle of June (1861), for that district, where I was occupied for six weeks in surveying that important region, principally in reference to the coalfields and lodes of copper, said to exist there; page 17until heavy falls of snow at the end of July, which made geological investigations impossible, drove me back to Christchurch. During that journey I opened up a seam of coal, in the valley of the Kowai, three feet and a-half thick. It consisted of a fine excellent black (altered) coal, the discovery of which was considered of such importance, that the late Mr. James Burnett, of Nelson, a competent mining surveyor, and who had been my assistant in my Nelson explorations, was entrusted with the necessary preliminary work to open up the seam and look for others. This gentleman began the work on October 4th, but could not finish it, as he had to return to Nelson; I, therefore, continued it at the beginning of November employing several miners, and driving an adit through the whole beds until the older rocks were reached. This investigation proved that we had been opening up the outcropping end or edge of a series of coal seams, where the seams are not of such regularity as we may expect to find them toward the middle portion. I therefore recommended that borings should be undertaken towards the centre of the valley, which stretches between the Mount Torlesse range and Russell's hills. After this work was completed, and I had reported its principal results to the Provincial Government, I proceeded with a geological examination of the mountain ranges in the neighbourhood, including Mount Torlesse and the Thirteen Mile Bush range; during which I also surveyed the small outlier with Brown coal seams, situated at the head of the MacFarlane stream, one of the source branches of the Kowai. The result of this survey of the district proved that these ranges, as well as all the higher portion of the Malvern Hills, are built up by the same old sedimentary rocks, which I had first met in this Island between the Awatere and Waiau rivers in the Province of Marlborough, and of which also all the ranges to near the summit of the Southern Alps along the course and up to the source of the Rangitata and Ashburton rivers, previously examined, consist. During careful detail examinations I made of these deposits of enormous thickness, I followed some of the large flexures into which they were bent, and found that in some spots they had actually been inverted, so that the lower beds appeared to be the upper ones. Generally the dip of the great anticlinal and synclinal curves is very steep, if not vertical, which gives to the high rocky ranges quite a ribboned appearance. On the summit of these ranges and on the moving debris slopes on their sides, I made a very rich harvest of particularly interesting plants, and when I mention that on Mount Torlesse alone I collected over two hundred flowering plants, of which over thirty were new to page 18science, it will be easily understood how great my delight was at being able to mate such a remarkable addition to the alpine and sub-alpine flora of New Zealand. Similar large collections were made by me during my journey to the sources of the Rangitata and Ashburton, first together with my lamented friend Dr. A. Sinclair, and after his death alone.