Drenching rain, lush forests, rivers that regularly inundate the land, even sandflies and that fierce human independence bred by isolation—all that is the West Coast can be traced ultimately to the towering presence of the Southern Alps. Yet from a geological perspective these mountains are mere outward symptoms of greater things happening beneath the ground, where two of the world's tectonic plates collide along one of Earth's greatest fault lines, dubbed the Alpine Fault. Geologists Harold Wellman was the first to recognise this vast structure, a discovery that helped revolutionise the way we see the Earth.
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