Thus, initially at any rate, life in the new mining town was one of uncertainty and, for a number of years many of its early buildings retained their prefabricated iron-and-timber character. This will also explain why some of the gold mines in the Randfontein area had stopes that were vertical. Please do not use these photos without permission from the copyright holder. Could this have been the source of the Iron Pyrite? When the meteor struck, the temperature was raised to thousands of degrees C. This probably caused a double reaction, the dilute sulphuric acid reacting with the iron mud to form Ferrous Oxide and hydrogen. The connected chain of mines that lies east and west of Johanesburg has produced a considerable portion of the world’s gold.It is estimated that about 1,565 million ounces of gold were produced from the conglomerate beds (reefs) in the Witwatersrand basin between 1886 and 2000. These lavas were found in many places while gold-mining. Within a year, more than 500,000 people (nicknamed “diggers”) rushed to the gold field s of Australia. Contribute. This gigantic occurrence blasted a crater over 100 km wide and tens of km deep. Information Circular No. The first of these to be erected was a three-stamp Sandycroft on the Jubilee Mine, which came into operation on 22 April of that year, and by the end of 1887 it had been followed into production by the Wemmer, Ferreira, Salisbury, Wits (Knights), Meyer & Charlton, George Goch, Jumpers, City and Suburban, Geldenhuis Estates, Langlaagte, Robinson and Wolhouter mines. (it should be noted that we do not know for certain the exact compounds or contaminants being brought up in the springs). Coming up from deep underground were sulphurs common to volcanic vents, and iron rich muds, along with the elements already mentioned, such as gold, silver et al. The first discovery of gold in the region is recorded as being in 1852 in the Pardekraal farm by J.H. This also means that animal-drawn transport was also subject to seasonal shortages of fodder along its routes of travel, sometimes leading to long delays in the delivery of much needed mining equipment. This impact may have given the Earth its off-set, and caused a dust-storm that may have lasted up to three years. The gold mines in this area are situated around an ancient sea (over 2700 million years old) where rivers deposited their sediments in the form of sand and gravel which became the conglomerate containing the gold. Although legends of a South African “El Dorado” existed among the natives of the area, it was not until 1886, when a poor Australian prospector named George Harrison staked the first claim, that the vast riches of the “Rand” were discovered. Looking at the impact site from space it is clear that the Witwatersrand was formed as part of this impact. The Witwatersrand Basin is approximatly 350 km long and 200 km wide. By August 1886, the mining camp, as yet unnamed, could already boast of some 3000 inhabitants, most of them White, and on 8 September of that year nine farms, located in what is now regarded as the central Rand, were proclaimed public diggings. Before long open cast workings were being opened up along the full length of the main reef in the present district of Johannesburg. JHF Virtual Tours will put the spotlight on Witwatersrand and its gold’s discovery. That the impact caused the lake, or multi-layered swamp, to distort is obvious. Towards a people's history If for any reason none appear click here for some troubleshooting tips. Does anyone have material on the Holpan Diamond Diggings? Then at a point in time, a huge meteor fell in the present district of Vredefort. A … Today, masses of iron pyrite is (or was) mixed in with the gold. Today, some 200 small gold mines still operate in … The tops of the pipes were transported Northwards with the debris and came to rest along the Wits Ridge, mostly along the Southernmost, North-facing, ridge. Vredefort Dome Central Uplift (Google Earth). (See Migrant Labour, Chinese Labour), Colonial History and Development of Johannesburg, Fordsburg and the Oriental Plaza, Johannesburg. When the Struben brothers, Fred and Harry, began prospecting the Witwatersrand ridge around 1883-4, they found gold in small quantities in the streams and quartzes. It would seem that this continued into the time of the dinosaurs, or other hard boned animals, as fossils of such bones have been discovered along the present Florida Ridge. So much so that early gold-separation over copper plates covered in Mercury could not separate it and almost caused the mining on the Witwatersrand to shut down. Perhaps the most remarkable goldfield on the planet is found in the Witwatersrand district of South Africa. By this time it had been realized that the Reef extended not only to the east and west, but also downwards with persisting values of ore. At the time mineral outputs averaged £1 per oz per ton of rock mined. The rock was found to contain both gold and diamonds—a rare combination similar to that found in the world’s richest gold deposit in South Africa. They therefore believed the gold could not continue for more than about 30 to 50 meters underground. However, these were minor reefs, and today it is the general consensus that credit for the discovery of the main gold reef must be attributed to George Harrison, whose findings on the farm Langlaagte were made in July 1886, either through accident or systematic prospecting. Today there are considerable amounts of iron-rich muds or shale laying along the Wits. History of Leases The Witwatersrand Basin Project (WBP) comprises two historic mining centres on the Northern Edge of the Witwatersrand Basin in the Central Rand Goldfield immediately southwest of the city of Johannesburg. Then in 1853 Pieter Jacob Marais discovered gold on the Jukskei River banks but this was also kept secret. Primary among these were: Not all of these advantages were immediately perceived. Let us know what is happening in your town or city. Fred Struben states in his diary, “I was chasing a pipe, but lost it and could not find it again.”. Many photos are submitted by heritage enthusiasts across the country. Phillips (1987): Anomalous Gold in Witwatersrand Shales. Of these about 600 White residents farmed the Witwatersrand region, which was considered to be a fairly well populated area by the standards of that time. The first crushing battery, consisting of five stamps, had been erected on the Reef in 1885 to service the Struben's excavations on the lower West Rand reef, but this was a small operation, and the first crushing machinery ordered specifically for the new Reef diggings began to arrive from the coast in 1887. Capital, mine personnel and technical expertise were available from the Kimberley diamond mines, as well as the gold fields of Australia and North America. He sold £600 of gold to the Transvaal Treasury and was subsequently ordered to leave the country. These quartz rich sands hardened under successive layers into the quartzite we know today. This piled up along a roughly East-West line to form the Witwatersrand Ridge, about 120 kilometres from impact. The gold and mineral rich layers were displaced downwards like the saucer of a cup, the ‘hinge, being along the Witwatersrand ridge and sloping downwards at angles around 30 degrees at surface and curving out as deep as six km underground. The considerable contribution of St John’s College to Medicine. In practical terms this meant that, from the onset, it became heavily reliant upon an existing system of rural animal-drawn transports. Goldfields Revisited, by Edward p. Mathers, F.R.G.S. By then 14 mines and 93 stamps were in operation, with a total annual output of 19,080 oz of gold. The sub-division of what became the settlement's central district was a typical product of nineteenth century mining camp planning. Soon, even more gold was discovered in what would become the neighboring state of Victoria. Gibson, Wits University. Piercey (2013): Sedimentary origin of gold and uranium in the Archean Witwatersrand Supergroup, South Africa. The City is built on top of the Johannesburg pipe (The Heritage Portal). The Strubens and Gold, by Anna Cunningham, Wits University. The outcrop in Gauteng forms the Witwatersrand ridge, from which the basin and its rocks derive their name. My own observations on the ground,  on my own and while guiding tourists, and researching this paper. CANADA (The … These gold fields dominated production throughout the twentieth century, but production peaked at … However Randjeslaagte, the site of present-day central Johannesburg, was not declared until 4 October 1886, and its village was only officially named ‘Johannesburg’ for the first time the previous day, 3 October 1886. South Africa experienced a transformation between 1870, when the diamond rush to Kimberley began, and 1902, when the South African War ended. The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was a gold rush in 1886 that led to the establishment of Johannesburg, South Africa.It was a key part of the Mineral Revolution.. The first recorded discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand was made by Jan Gerrit Bantjes in June 1884, on the farm Vogelstruisfontein, and was followed soon thereafter, in September, by the Struben brothers who uncovered the Confidence Reef on the farm Wilgespruit, near present-day Roodepoort. These minerals, mixed with quartz rock and other debris, formed layers of iron-rich conglomerate. The ore was rich and located close to the surface. The semi-circular shape of the Wits ridge forming an outer rim of the crater. The next theory was that this was a deep lake, that had filled with gold-bearing debris over the ages, from rivers entering at various points. Production does not come easy though. Midway between these dates, in 1886, the world’s largest goldfields were discovered on the Witwatersrand. The water would have boiled off instantly. The Rand’s healthy and equitable climatic conditions. At impact the meteor certainly penetrated deep enough to open and allow magma far underground to escape in places. It was on the southern portion of this ridge that gold was first discovered on the farm Langlaagte in 1886, 5 km west of Johannesburg. By 1890, a scant four years after the discovery of gold, it had multiplied ten-fold on both the Rand and in Johannesburg. Some carried uranium in great quantities. Can anyone tell me where this building in East London is? With the invention of the electron microscope, minute particles of meteor debris were identified, providing evidence of the massive impact event. Some carried little or no minerals. When Fred Struben discovered the “Confidence Reef, he states in his diary “ I was finding a grain of gold for every grain of sand”. It was the accidental discovery of what is now known as ‘the Great Rand Reef’, by a man called George Harrison, which directly led to the ‘ Witwatersrand Gold … That it may be impossible to discover the Johannesburg pipe is obvious, with the City built on top of it. Photo: Supplied. Ridge, stretching from Krugersdorp through Kloofendal and the Melville Koppies. Despite this, the vast majority of the Reef's companies were still engaged in surface mining and the only real shafts sunk to date were on the Jubilee and Langlaagte properties. Another find by Pieter Jacob Marais was recorded in 1853 on the Jukskei River, but was subject to similar secrecy. The discovery of gold rapidly attracted people to the area, making necessary a name and governmental organisation for the area. Some were bigger than others. Comments will load below. When the Struben brothers, Fred and Harry, began prospecting the Witwatersrand ridge around 1883-4, they found gold in small quantities in the streams and quartzes. The Witwatersrand Gold Rush initiated South Africa’s domination of world gold production. The South African War of 1899-1901 saw a temporary downturn in Johannesburg's population, partly due to the exodus of the Uitlander [foreigner] community who fled the Reef, and partly to the departure of Dutch residents on commando duty. Recollections of Adventures, by Harry Struben. And again under tremendous heat, this split into Iron Pyrite and water. It has produced some 2 billion ounces over a century of mining and at an average grade of 15 g/t Au with a current head grade of 6-10 g/t Au and they still have estimated reserves of some 1,161 billion ounces (36,000 tonnes). University of Johannesburg, School of Mining, Library. 375 (2003): The debate on the origin of the Witwatersrand Gold (1896-1903). Today if one studies the formation of the ground between the Main Reef and the Witwatersrand Ridge, one realises that the ground slopes gradually up, then drops dramatically, over the Ridge, in fact there are two ridges in most places, this becoming more extreme towards Krugersdorp and Randfontein. By the end of the following year, in 1888, the number of companies had dropped down to 39, only to rise up again to 52 by the end of 1889. The Fred Struben diaries, at Wits University and the Oppenheimer Library. That this was wrong was soon revealed by pioneers like J.B. Robinson who proving that the reef dipped far underground. Click here for details on how to contribute and here to advertise in our newsletter. These muds in turn were dense enough to lift with them various minerals, copper, silver, uranium and others, leaking out of the Earth’s center. An availability of unskilled labour, which he described as being "virile and excellent workers under white supervision". Following their repatriation in 1910, they were replaced on the mines by the introduction of migrant Black labour, much of it recruited from neighbouring territories. It all really began when an Australian miner by the name of George Harrison went out walking on a Sunday in March 1886 and discovered an outcrop of a main gold bearing reef on the farm Langlaagte. This geologic formation is believed to be the result of an ancient meteorite and has produced over 1.5 billion troy ounces of gold since it was discovered in 1886. This began the Australian Gold Rush, which had a profound impact on the country’s national identity . Even after it was realised that the gold reef ran both deep and wide, and the introduction in May 1890 of the MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process made recovery of gold excavated at deep levels economically feasible, the general consensus of the time was that Johannesburg's life span would not exceed 25 years. Although gold was by no means a new discovery in South Africa, prior to 1886 it had only been found in small quantities, and mainly by European prospectors. However, these diggings had also been largely alluvial in nature and, despite the fact that ore deposits on the new reef seemed to be both concentrated and of a long life expectancy, the Government took the view that Johannesburg would be no different from any of the other gold mining villages which had preceded it. If you would like to post a comment and need instructions click here. Large-scale gold mining in the Yukon Territory didn’t end until 1966, and by that time the region had yielded some $250 million in gold. Mining has been taking place within … Therefor there should be big pipes in the Johannesburg and Langlaagte areas, as well as others ranging along the line of the Main Reef, but North of it. Shafts go down some 3,900 meters be… A paper on the origins of the original Witwatersrand Gold Fields with special reference to the Witwatersrand Ridge, George Harrison Park - Portion of the ML and MRL - Gavin Whitfield.png, Vredefort Dome Central Uplift - Google Earth.png, Fred and Harry Struben - Confidence Reef Mine - HF Gros.jpg, Fairview Fire Tower and Joburg Skyline - Heritage Portal - 2014.jpg, The German churches of the central Natal region, South Africa's First Multiracial Restaurant during Apartheid, Kenneth Birch and his appreciation of the Witwatersrand Mining landscape, Iconic painting reveals close relationship between Churchill and Smuts, South Africa’s Oldest Bank - An epic photographic journey, The South African Victorian photo album (early 1860s into the early 1900s). There may also have been genuine volcanic lava vents, but at this early stage probably not. Prior to the discovery of the Main Reef in 1886, the Transvaal Republic is estimated to have been the home of some 40,000 White and predominantly Dutch-speaking immigrants, and 300,000 indigenous residents. Along the shoreline, mostly along what would become the Witwatersrand, but stretching away towards Potchefstroom, seemed to be a series of hot springs or geysers. Initially these men came from Mozambique, but later on they were also drawn from British colonies further afield. Another theory became popular, that the gold had come up in volcanic activity, the volcanoes being eroded away over time, and releasing gold rich rock into an inland sea. The South African War of 1899–1902 forced every gold mine into a virtual shutdown and led to a lowered demand for black labour and the loss of over 100, 000 jobs (a, Figure 1). Witwatersrand accounts for roughly 50 percent of the gold ever mined. The rise of population numbers thereafter can only be described as phenomenal, following an exponential growth pattern for virtually all sectors of the population. Joseph Kirkman's Missing Manuscript - Can the mystery now be put to rest? Before time was as we know it, a great inland sea or lake existed where today the Witwatersrand lies, and stretched out right across the Orange Free State. The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (/ v ə t ˈ v ɑː t ə s r ə n t /), is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg.It is more commonly known as Wits University or Wits (/ v ə t s / or / v ɪ t s /).The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Later on, mining engineer Biccard Jeppe listed a number of advantages which, in his opinion, had facilitated gold mining in the area. Five years later, in 1895, Johannesburg was known to hold 102,000 people, this number being equally divided between White and Black residents. As the nearest rail-heads were at Kimberley, Ladysmith and Komatipoort, all stores, materials and personnel had to be carried to the mines at great expense by either mule or ox-drawn wagons. This appears to be the unchanged remnants of the muds brought up by the hot springs, yet too distant from the impact to have suffered chemical change. The first building plots were subdivided and sold by public auction two months later, on 8 December. Over the years, many other men tried mining into the Witwatersrand ridge, notably George Brown and the French Count De Waru. A heavy in-migration of miners followed, and the city of Johannesburg grew near the centre of the Witwatersrand. When George Harrison discovered the Main Reef of gold at Langlaagte farm in 1886, it was believed by many to be an old river that had been turned on its side. All found gold on the surface, but it petered out at about 30 meters, and almost all dipped towards the South. The prospectors Fred and Harry Struben made the first discovery of gold-bearing Witwatersrand Supergroup rocks in January 1884 on the farm Sterkfontein near Kromdraai. It may in fact have been an ice-comet as no remains were found, the ice melting instantly under fantastically high temperatures. Disclaimer: Any views expressed by individuals and organisations are their own and do not in any way represent the views of The Heritage Portal. In the case of all other gold discoveries made previously in the Transvaal, deposits had invariably proved to have a short working life, so the concentrations of people they stimulated were equally short lived. Reimold and R.L. However no such rivers or traces of them exist. Kimberley mine in 1873, only a few years after the digging for diamonds started Discovery of Gold and Diamonds in South Africa When gold was discovered in the eastern Transvaal (Pilgrim’s Rest, Mac-Mac Waterfalls and Barberton) a similar process took place. Portion of the Main Reef at George Harrison Park (Gavin Whitfield). Thermal subsidence and associated deposition of the 2.64 to 2.43 Ga Chuniespoort Group led to low-grade burial metamorphism of the Witwatersrand strata, to basin dewatering, oil migration, and partial gold mobilization within the Witwatersrand basin fill. On 14 September 1886, the first large mining company on the Reef, the Witwatersrand Gold Mining Company, was formed with a total nominal capital of £3,063,000. These included seasonal variations, which were not unduly severe, as well as the almost total lack of noxious fauna and flora, most specifically insects and bacteria dangerous to man. Thus, within a short time, the mining town's rapid growth began to overtax its infrastructure to a degree that it also created problems in other areas, such as its supply of potable water. Abstract The Witwatersrand gold fields of South Africa account for more than a third of the world's total gold production since mining started there in 1886: 48,000 t Au. These geysers seemed seasonal. In times of rain as water reached the hot rock, they cracked the underlying rock, allowing sulphur, gold, iron rich mud, silver and uranium, to boil out in huge quantities, fanning out across the low lying ground to the South, and spreading their minerals as they spewed. Davis discovered the first gold in the Witwatersrand, leading to the South African gold rush and the discovery of much more gold deposits within the basin. Iron pyrite and water. So over the years the layers built up, one on top of another. A Vision for Chinatown - The Remarkable Mr Walter Pon, New Book - Thomas Muir: 'Lad O'Pairts' - The Life and Work of Sir Thomas Muir (1844-1934), Mathematician and Cape Colonial Educationist, Advertise in The Heritage Portal Newsletter, The Capture of Winston Churchill - The Armoured Train Incident. (Fred Struben diaries, University of the Witwatersrand, and Oppenheimer Library.). Following upon the declaration of Johannesburg, this area was taken over by the Government who had it surveyed and named it Ferreira’s Town. The main Witwatersrand gold reef was discovered in June 1884 on the farm Vogelstruisfontein by Jan Gerritse Bantjes that triggered the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the founding of Johannesburg in 1886. It is assumed that these hot springs vented in roughly a great semi-circle over a hundred and fifty kilometres. Though there were smaller mining operations in the region, it wasn’t until 1884 and the subsequent 1886 discovery at Langlaagte that the Witwatersrand gold rush got under way in ea… These springs, heated to boiling far underground where water came into contact with hot rock in turn heated by lavas from the Rietfontein series of faults, carried iron-rich mud. New towns were established to accommodate the huge influx of people. Most particularly it could not boast of a single major waterway in its vicinity. In 1852, the English prospector J.H. Gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand which led to an influx of miners from around the world 1886 - 1900 First large gold mining company established and the commencement of the development and the population of Johannesburg increased ten-fold in just four years. Davis, an English miner. The closure of all mining activity in October 1899 brought to a sudden end to virtually all economic activity in the region. When Fred Struben discovered the “Confidence Reef, he states in his diary “ I was finding a … As a result, the initial survey and layout of the settlement was made with impermanence in mind. Know something about this topic? If my conclusions are correct, what Fred Struben and others found, was the tops of the vents or springs, displaced North by the meteor impact, and sheared off from the parent pipes. Meteorite Impact, by W.U. With my limited knowledge of chemistry, I presume that: The boiling water coming into contact with the sulphur formed a dilute sulphuric acid and hydrogen gas. Today this can be seen at the Roodepoort Botanical Gardens where a cliff face exposes these layers. Within a year of the discovery of gold in Johannesburg, the whole Reef was estimated to have some 7,000 people, with 3,000 residing in Johannesburg itself. To understand exactly how much gold is in the world and when we may run out, a good first step is to look at current sources and production of gold.The largest single source of gold in history has been the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa. The original miners' camp, under the informal leadership of Col Ignatius Ferreira, had been located in the Fordsburg dip, possibly because water was available there, and because of the site's close proximity to the diggings. Explorer and prospector Jan Gerrit Bantjes [ af ] (1840-1914) was the first and original discoverer of a Witwatersrand gold reef in June 1884 having prospected the area since the early 1880s, as well as co-operating the Kromdraai Gold Mine in 1883 to the NW of present-day Johannesburg together with his partner Johannes Stephanus Minnaar in an area known today as "The Cradle of Humankind". It lies with future prospectors to prove or disprove these pipes. 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