Friday, January 9, 2009

Rocks That Make Me Feel All Funny Inside

So Rawley was teasing me yesterday, asking if I'd seen any "orgasmic outcrops" recently. As I said in the post he was referring to, I don't very often describe outcrops that way... I like to save that particular phrasing for very special outcrops. But Dark Roasted Blend posted a piece today about "The Most Dangerous Roads in the World," and there are scads of photos of outcrops that I'd definitely make out with if given the chance. Wouldn't drive the roads. But I'd absolutely walk them out.And this one cracked me up:These are just two pictures of many; if these don't make you uneasy enough, note that this is Part 6 of an ongoing series; other posts on this topic can be found here.

Another "outcrop" that I posted a while back is not one that I would like: a bit too much of the femme fatale in this one for me to feel comfortable. In fact, the first time I watched it, this video made very, very uncomfortable, and I remembered it as about twice as long as it really was. If you are a geology person and a mountain climber, you will love this. If you have an issue with heights or balance, be ready to click pause or close the window. I just had to track down another copy- the version I had embedded has apparently been disappeared by the internet police. So I had to watch it again. You know what? It still makes me woozy. But the rocks are very cool.

The location is El Caminito Del Rey, "The King's Little Road," in Malaga, Spain. Part of the nerve-racking aspect of the video is that the photographer is fearless and nearly jogs through the mess. So here are some still photos that are less stressful. Massive exposure of vertical bedding is a serious turn-on to most geologists.
See that little line three quarters of the way up the picture? That's the pathway. EEK! And those little tiny dark spots at the left side of the path? Yep, dem's people up dere.
The pathway was created to allow workers to move back and forth more easily between a pair of hydropower projects, a little more than a century ago. I don't know if the above picture shows the process of constructing the path or what workers used before the path was constructed.
Dignitaries touring the path after its completion- see now, that I could deal with. I'm glad to see from the Wikipedia entry that Andalusia is hoping to restore it; it is (or was, before it fell into disrepair) an amazing piece of engineering. I would love to walk this path if, you know, it had railings, and if it was mostly there.

Now all these are great outcrops, but it's mostly the scale of exposure that makes them appealing; I can't really tell if the rocks themselves are all that amazing. Perhaps the most amazing, yes, orgasmic, outcrop I've ever seen wasn't all that big, maybe 150 feet along the Klamath River in northern California. It was a somewhat overgrown roadcut, so exposure was not great, though not terrible. In that 150 feet were 1) Ultramafic rocks cooked to serpentine, talc and chrysotile asbestos; 2) Seafloor basalt cooked to a fairly coarse amphibolite schist; 3) Seafloor chert; 4) Calc-alkaline rocks representing slightly metamorphosed sandy limestones; 5) More or less unaltered greywacke. The environments represented are, respectively 1) slightly metamorphosed upper mantle 2) heavily metamorphosed ocean crust 3) deep ocean oozes (far from land, no land-derived, 'terrigenous' sediments) 4) warm shallow marine, close enough to shore to have sand. 5) near shore, heavy sedimentation, probably associated with mountain-building on shore. So, in other words, a transect representing maybe 10 to 15 miles vertically, and at least hundreds, possibly much more, horizontally, all accordioned into an exposure you could walk through in seconds.

It's the kind of thing that can make any red-blooded geologist swoon from heart-stopping passion.


Rawley said...

I saw a show on TV about the most deadly roads in the world, it was probably on TruTV or something like that. It's been a couple of months.

NiteSkyGirl said...

That is so mind boggling it's astounding. Just when humans think they own the planet they are shown how tiny we really are. That affects me every-time I see mountains . how's this for the thought & mind .. We go out to look up at the stars at night with our problems to figure them out or to cope with them . The stars are dots , even though most are larger than our own sun. So here we are going to the dots with our problems and when you think of the star we are looking at , their view back at us on Earth.. WE OURSELVES are a dot. As a matter of fact we don't exist to that star !! So why does our problem exhist?

Think of that the next time you go out with your problems ;)

Re: 1 people drinking coffee where we can comment .

Thanks for the coffee !