What happens when a rare geological site is squeezed for space
Ione of the rarest residential addressT IS es of the world. To reside beside the Gilbert Hill in Mumbai’s Andheri means being a witness to a geological rarity.The hill is one of the world’s only two basalt monoliths,which were squeezed out of the Earth some 65 million years ago in molten form. The other one is Devil’s Peak in Wyoming in the US.
But off late, the lucky residents are not feeling so possessive about its superlative. Residents in the neighbourhood of Gilbert Hill have been living in a state of constant unease as chunks of rocks tumble down at eerie regularity from the rockface of the hill. “Every year,rocks fall from the top,especially during the monsoon,” says Mohammed Qasim,a local resident.In June this year,two persons were critically injured as chunks of the hill struck them.The geological superla- tive is surrounded by increasing residential settlements. Over the last few years, the area surrounding the hill has witnessed repeated instances of people getting killed, injured, and property being damaged due to the unpredictable rockfalls.
On the other hand,conservationists and geologists are worried that Gilbert Hill may be wiped out in the future, both due to constant human encroachments as well as from lack of conservation.The 61-metre tall monolith is made up of tightly-packed hexagonal columns of basalt that stretch from the bottom to the top.The formations are rich from the perspective of geological information about the Earth’s evolution.
While Devil’s Peak is a cordonedoff national park area and a tourist attraction, Gilbert Hill is surrounded by a vast expanse of shanty settlements, slums and high-rise