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Environment

One and only quartz dyke

IT is difficult not to be awed by the Klang Gates Ridge. It's sheer cliffs rise from the ground, in some places with a rock face about 120m high.

Its top is a jagged knife edge, in some places only a few metres wide, with precipitous drops on either side.

It is made up entirely of quartz, which is essentially glass crystal. Its massive size is also unusual geological feature.

All these are reasons enough why the quartz ridge deserves to be declared a national monument, says Dr Ibrahim Komoo, professor of engineering geology at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

"By its sheer size alone, the ridge is a national heritage. If conserved and promoted, perhaps one day it can be considered a world heritage site. Of the 500 world heritage sites, 108 are geological heritage."

Dr Ibrahim says quartz usually occur as quartz vein, which are thin threads of the mineral running through granite or other minerals. Quartz dyke are their bigger cousins.

Quartz veins are usually only several millimetre to several centimetre wide, and 5m to 50m long. They are common in Pahang, including Gunung Tahan.

But there is only one quartz dyke — the Klang Gates Ridge. Stretching 16km long and 160m wide at its broadest point, it may be the world's longest and widest quartz ridge.

Its length however, is broken up above ground at several points by Sungai Gombak, Sungai Klang, Sungai Kemensah. These broken portions are called 'wind gaps,' a geological term meaning gaps created by rivers and erosion.

The most spectacular part of the ridge is its mid-section, which stretches from Taman Melawati to the Zoo Negara.

Dr Ibrahim says major quartz veins are concentrated around Kuala Lumpur and Seremban because of the old Kuala Lumpur-Mersing fault zone. He explains that during tectonic folding millions of years ago, massive buckling and faulting in the earth's crust thrust hydrothermal quartz upwards, where they then crystalise.

The Klang Gates Ridge was formed together with granite rock of the main range but weathering and erosion reduced that massif to its present profile of a narrow spine. Another quartz ridge about 8km long can be seen along the Kajang-Cheras road.

The ridge is also unique as it displays four types of quartz formation, says Dr Ibrahim. This meant that quartz had formed and accumulated over four generations.

Much of the quartz is opaque white or tainted with grey. But in some places, the outcrop is lined with minute needles of clear hexagonal quartz crystals.

Like many others, he is sad at the meagre attempts to conserve the ridge. He offers one reason for this: "Many think it is a limestone outcrop, and does not merit any attention since there are already many impressive limestone outcrops around Ipoh and Gua Musang."

Dr Ibrahim reveals that since the 30s, not more than five geologists have studied the ridge. And even then, for the wrong reasons.

"In the past, interest was in gold prospecting because the mineral is commonly found in huge quartz formation. In Pahang, gold is now being mined from a quartz vein.

"But fortunately, from a conservation viewpoint, the Klang Gates Ridge is an exception."

Though mining is not a threat to the ridge, development is.

While quartz itself is a hard mineral (it numbers seven while diamond numbers 10), the crystals are not strongly bonded together as they were built over several generations, explains Dr Ibrahim.

"So the ridge is characterised by many fractures. Even on the walking trail, one can easily crumble the quartz. Clearing tree can make the ridge vulnerable to the elements."

Dr Ibrahim is proposing that the ridge and surroundings be turned into a park.

"We are lucky to have a natural attraction so close to the city. It will enhance the image of Kuala Lumpur," says Dr Ibrahim.

Another article on the QUARTZ RIDGE dated March 2004

Article on the roposed Selangor State Park dated March 2004

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