Posts Tagged ‘geology’

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Paphos once more

April 21, 2010

Another week, another trip to Paphos.  The trip is well worth it but really, that motorway is dull!

Last week we tacked an extra hour or so onto the expected time needed to allow for a possible diversion.  During the previous week the motorway suffered from a major rockfall, closing part of it for some days.  Much of the run between Limassol and Paphos was constructed by cutting through the hillsides and, occasionally, nature reasserts itself.  The cuttings are quite dramatic in places, rising to 100 feet above the road.  Those with an interest in geology like them as they show quite clearly the striations of the rock and how it has been folded over time.

Anyway, for reasons that aren’t clear part of the rock face gave way and collapsed onto the east-bound carriageway.  Closing the motorway meant a lengthy diversion via the village of Pissouri and along the coast road.  As it turned out by the time we made our weekly trip they had managed to implement a contraflow along the west-bound side of the motorway meaning that the diversion wasn’t necessary.

In addition to saving us time it also allowed us to get a peek at the remedial works to make the motorway safe again.  The sheer scale of work to move the fallen rocks was staggering.  On the way back we managed to get a photo or two.  Excuse the quality; photography at 50mph isn’t ideal.

To give the photo some scales the two diggers are both tracked and, with their buckets, have a reach of about 50 feet.  The lower of the two is sitting on the remains of the rockfall, about 10 or 15 feet deep, on the eastbound carriageway.  The upper digger is sitting on a newly created ledge perhaps 60 feet or so above the road.  From this position it was able to dig out the top of the rockfall.

Repairing the rockfall

It is quite scary to think how much worse the situation would have been had the incident happened when the motorway was busy.

For lunch we stopped a little further along the coast; closer to Aphrodite’s Rock and apparently as a result of that hordes of tourists.  It was worth it for the views though.

East of Aphrodite's Rock

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Up the stairs to bed

February 5, 2010

Our lack of an internal staircase (and therefore minor obsession with cold weather) continues to confuse folks.  From time to time someone (family, friends, fellow ex-pats in Cyprus, blog followers) will ask;

But why do you have to go outside to go to bed?!

The story is this: this little house in the hills has no internal staircases.  When we bought it from MadAlex it had two external staircases, one at either side of the house.  To be honest that isn’t entirely unusual here.  In our case one was unfinished and, to our way of thinking, surplus to requirements so we had the builders knock it down and allow us to reclaim a portion of garden.

We talked about having a staircase built within the house but decided against it; the house is not large and installing a staircase would take up a huge amount of our living space.  And anyway, it’s not like it gets particularly cold or even rains that often we said.  Clearly those were statements made before the start of this very cold and very wet winter of 09/10.

A friend, who is not particularly known for his tact, was once heard to observe;

You really haven’t put a staircase in the house?  I thought you were joking when you said you were going to have to go outside to go to bed.

So perhaps photos would help to give some context to this.  Both of the photos below were taken from the garden looking towards the house.

The main, or front, door is to the left of the downstairs window in the first photo.

All being well we exit that door, skirt around the edge of the bougainvillea and winter jasmine, avoid slipping on the mutant arum lilies and nip up the stairs. At the top we generally stop and look at the view up or down the valley, or at night check to see if the stars are out, or look across the valley to see if the mist is coming in.

In less than 6 months we’ve become adept at reading the current and future weather patterns from the top of those stairs.  But at the moment it is usually a quick look because the top of the stairs is totally exposed.

The stairs, as seen from the garden

The tall wall that you see to the right of the photo is part of the courtyard wall of our enclosed garden.  It also happens to be the outside wall of the next door neighbour’s big living room.  For the lower two thirds of the stairs it provides superb protection against the elements; for the upper third it is no help in that department at all.

Part-way up the stairs

Those of with a keen eye will have noticed one of the designer features we inherited; the (somewhat tired and inoperable) black sun canopy.  Sadly it was another casualty of the renovation works and is no longer with us.

Those with an eye for Elf & Safety will note the lack of banister on the left hand open side of the staircase.

There isn’t one.  There probably should be.  One day there even might be … but, probably not any time soon.

Sensible folks tend to keep to the right when going to bed, leaning against that stone wall for a little extra balance.  Although, that itself brings some challenges; at the top of the stairs as reach the top of the wall we have a lovely view over the neighbour’s sloping roof.  Ian once ventured out there in an attempt to resolve a hot water issue; little Max, the terrible terrier, went exploring on one of his early visits and fell into their garden.

Anyway, who needs banisters?  Or walls that go all the way to the top of wherever it is?  Did you see what we have?  We’ve got fossils!  We are reliably informed that those large stones are huge fossils, specifically internal molds.

Fossils as banisters

A internal mold is formed when a relatively soft organism dies and is encased in sediment.  Over time the organism dissolves and then later the space is filled with more sediment, taking the shape of the now absent organism.  We are told that our molds are from particularly large clam or molluscs.

An internal mold

In geological terms Cyprus isn’t particularly old; it was created somewhere in the region of 200 million years ago.  These fossils are probably local so they are likely to be somewhat younger than that.

We try and keep that in mind as we head up the open stairs to bed.  We might be cold and tired from, yet more, renovation works but the stones stopping us from falling into the garden have been around for a couple of hundred millions years or so.