Geology


Mount Aspiring National Park consists of a mountain range leading from the Haast Pass in the north to Mount Somnus in the south. Over 100 glaciers cut the range, separating the peaks and leaving deep gorges behind. The three largest glaciers in the park are called Bonar, Therma and Volta. Mount Aspiring (3033 m) was shaped by glaciers as such, giving the mountain its pyramid-like shape. The area almost borders the Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.
The rock types found here are mainly Haast schist, a metamorphic rock created around 200 million years ago when sediments collided between tectonic plates. Heat and pressure deep underground transformed these sediments into new mineral crystals such as garnet and mica. Ocean sediments that underwent the same procedure have eventually turned into greenstone. Some volcanic and greywacke remnants are also found along the park's edges.

While lowland and alpine plants flourish on these grounds, the Red Hills contain Mount Aspiring's 'Mineral Belt'. They contain ultramafic rocks, that are somewhat dark, and ferromagnesian minerals such as olivine. They consists of silicates, metals and oxides but only little amounts of quartz. As a result, a low nutritious, partly toxic environment is generated - due to metals within, such as chromium and nickel. The Red Hills soil also contains a high concentration of magnesium that creates conditions where plants hardly survive.

Due to the melting glaciers, several crystal-clear rivers and 'Blue Pools' flow through the park and fill the gorges, occasionally forming an alpine lake. These waters are rich in minerals and provide a foothold for Mount Aspiring's high biodiversity.
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