Monday, 2 January 2012

'The Rags of Time' *

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'Nor houres, dayes, moneths which are the rags of time'
John Donne:  The Sunne Rising

Geology is not our subject and we know little about it.  However, we've always adored mountainous regions without asking too many questions about their provenance.  Living in a truly mountainous limestone region of France where we can no longer casually use the word 'erosion' in the past tense has woken us up to another fascinating preoccupation.

Here in the  Drôme we are surrounded by geology.  Part of the view from our house is a jagged, almost vertical, rock face and with binoculars we can watch it erode.  The most spectacular example of local geology is Mont Aiguille which is, apparently, about to launch some 20% of its bulk into the valley.  

What a sight that cataclysm would be and what a pity.  Unstable rocks, spectacular strata and weird shapes are easy to find in our region.

Rapidly decaying limestone pillars seen from Tussac looking into the Cirque d'Archiane.

Everywhere there are unaccessable  -  at least to us  -  pockets of forest and grazing which offer sanctuary to wild life.  After snow it's obvious that wild life abounds.  Occasionally we see chamois, bouquetin, martens, deer etc. and, more often, vultures, now quite common.  
The Cirque d'Archiane is famous for its rocks and cliffs and well-known to climbers.
Archiane village and Rocher d'Archiane.

A few days ago we went out with a new 300mm lens for its first trial and took the opportunity to get closer in to some of the local cliffs and strange formations.

Close-up of the face of the Rocher d'Archiane where older rock gives place to new deposits - one mountain on top of another.  With a big enough enlargement, it's possible to see a group of chamois underneath the tree, mid-left, above the main strata.

At the head of the valley, Les Aiguilles d'Archiane.  The trees give an idea of the scale and the fissures in the rock give an impression of fragility.

A couple of hours' walk from Archiane the sunny village of Benavise is dominated by the Rocher de Combau.  Walk through the village and climb for five minutes through the fields and these strange formations rise above the forest.

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