ENCOUNTERS WITH TABLE MOUNTAIN AND THE HISTORY OF GEOLOGY
Emeritus Professor John Compton, University of Cape Town
Monday 9–Friday 13 January
COURSE FEES R550
Table Mountain is hard to avoid, a massive block of rock towering a kilometre above sea level. Many who encountered this rocky massif, either from a distance or in climbing to the table top, thought enough about it to record their impressions. This course outlines the chronology of how people experienced Table Mountain and speculated on its origins. With writings that go back over five hundred years to the early Portuguese explorers, it is possible to trace the evolution of how we feel and think about mountains, and our scientific understanding of Earth. We went from fearing and loathing mountains, to embracing them as an escape back to nature and a source of inspiration. We also increasingly took notice of the rocks that made up the landscape and started to propose origin stories that gradually evolved into our current understanding of how Earth works, the science of geology.
1. Mountains of the mind
2. Reading Earth’s ancient history
3. Neptunists vs Plutonists, the Sea Point contact and the birth of geology
4. Adventure, escape and renewal
5. Earth moves: plate tectonics
Compton, J.S. 2021. West Coast: A Natural History. Cape Town: Earthspun Books.
Compton, J.S. 2023. Visions of Earth: Encounters with Table Mountain and the history of geology. Cape Town: Earthspun Books (to be published in early 2023).