Fossilised forest discovery excites walker

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
fossils
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HERE TODAY: Geologist Bruce Hayward says the fossilised forest on Takapuna Beach near Park Ave remains could be covered-up again by sand at any time.

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Bernard King has been discovering amazing new things at Takapuna Beach for decades but his latest find got him really excited.

King has found a new fossilised forest.

"I was taking the mother and the sister along the beach and I just saw it. At first I just saw the grey clay, but then I saw the trees."

Geologist Bruce Hayward called the site an "exciting new discovery, quite different and much older than Takapuna Reef's famous fossil forest".

What King has found, midway along the beach, just off Park Ave, is a thick rhyolitic ash and ignimbrite deposit, or volcanic ash and compressed tree remains, Hayward says. Similar deposits found around low-lying parts of Auckland have been dated at around one million years old.

Blackened lumps of fossilised tree he picked up crumbled in his hands, King says.

"The stumps are black, but they have not been burnt, instead they have been carbonised during the preservation and fossilisation," Hayward says.

Easy to "stumble-upon", some of the mineralised tree stumps jut-out 30cm above the clay, Hayward says.

A find by King about 10 years ago correlates with Hayward's conclusion.

King found two large, washed-up lumps of tree gum on the beach.

Having two lumps appear at the same time and place makes King, 55, a veteran environmental activist, think the remains of kauri-sized trees may be close by.

In 1978, King was one of several activists who occupied one of the last stands of ‘Tane Mahuta sized' totara at Pureora, north-west of Lake Taupo. Thanks to their efforts and global attention drummed up by naturalist David Bellamy, the trees were saved.

Unfortunately, preserving the fossils for human eyes is in the hands of the weather.

"History tells us that it won't be long before the sands shift back and once again bury Takapuna Beach's hidden secret," Hayward says.

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- North Shore Times

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