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Rocks and the sheer drama

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The formation of one of the world’s oldest rocks was no less than a drama

Inside Vidyaranya School, near the State secretariat, is a V shaped rock formation that gives a vantage point view of the cultural space under the tamarind tree in the school. Touching and tapping the pinkish rock formation is a natural instinct. There are similar rock formations strewn all over Hyderabad, some of them retaining dramatic shapes.

We have been told by historians that the rocks are 2.5 billion years old making them one of the oldest. But how old is 3.2 billion years? Did the rocks and mountains emerge out of the earth in the current shape they are in?

No. According to geologists, astrophysicists and new evidence that keeps emerging everyday, some of the rock formations in Hyderabad forming part of the Dharwar Croton billowed out of the earth’s fragile and hot crust like magma and began to cool down. But they cooled down under conditions which we can scarce imagine. Visualise storms that blow at speeds topping 500 kilometres per hour, imagine everyday rain that falls and gets vapourised immediately, imagine tides in the ocean that are 10 times the size that currently lash our coastal areas. The affect was akin to quenching that blacksmiths use to turn steel into swords. But on the rock formations that are called inselbergs (German word for island mountains) the effect was a series of cracks that developed both vertically and horizontally, a layer at a time. This peeling layer by layer gave us the fantastic formations that we can see even today.

Inside the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, there is a rock formation that is called ‘Pathar Dil’. Shaped like a heart, the massive rock appears as if it will fall down if enough pressure is applied. But that can be done only when heavy earth movers are brought into service or if holes are drilled to blast the rock to smithereens, as is the norm in Telangana today as these rock formations make way for apartment complexes, office blocks and roads.

These rocks are not just witness to the trials and tribulations of earth but the whole cosmos. They have experienced the moon’s gravitational pull in a much more powerful way than that we can feel now. Some 3.2 billion years ago when the moon was closer to earth it created havoc by sending in high tides. Now the tides are much calmer as the moon is moving away from the earth at a rate of 3.6 cm per year. The threat for these rocks is now more from human beings who see the rocks as just a piece of land. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority is aware of this: “These rocks are amongst the oldest rocks in the world and form the basement of all the younger rocks formed after them in the region. Their destruction will mean a loss of not only a rich heritage having intrinsic as well as recreational and tourist value but also of natural features having botanical, zoological and geological importance that may hold the key to our future environmental health.”

But on the ground something else is happening.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 10:12:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/rocks-and-the-sheer-drama/article22918561.ece

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