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World heritage sites in South Africa: Vredefort dome

The Vredefort dome is the worlds largest meteor crater and is situated 120km SW of Johannesburg.

It is said to have been created by a chick chunk of rock the size of Table Mountain vaporizing 70 Cubic Kilometres of earth on impact and a crater 300km wide.

Vredefort’s original impact scar measures 380km across and consists of three concentric circles of uplifted rock. They were created by the rebound of rock below the impact site when the asteroid hit. Most of these structures have eroded away and are no longer clearly visible.

The dome is also known for its unusual chaotic magnetic properties, which make compasses swing wildly and amalgam fillings play K.i.s.s FM.

As a tourist destination, the dome is a place of great scenic beauty. Home to over 450 species of nesting birds, butterflies and other more interesting wildlife.

It was declared a world heritage site in 2005 and its Justification for Inscription follows:
Criterion (viii): Vredefort Dome is the oldest, largest, and most deeply eroded complex meteorite impact structure in the world. It is the site of the world’s greatest single, known energy release event. It contains high quality and accessible geological (outcrop) sites which demonstrate a range of geological evidences of a complex meteorite impact structure. The rural and natural landscapes of the serial property help portray the magnitude of the ring structures resulting from the impact. The serial nomination is considered to be a representative sample of a complex meteorite impact structure. A comprehensive comparative analysis with other complex meteorite impact structures demonstrated that it is the only example on earth providing a full geological profile of an astrobleme below the crater floor, thereby enabling research into the genesis and development of an astrobleme immediately post impact.