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Oct 21 2012

OSU Geotour Supplemental I: A Fire and Water Theme

A few weeks ago, Lockwood took me on his Oregon State University geology tour. He’s written it up for ye, and I’ll just pop in a few (billion) photographs so you can do more of a sort of virtual tour thing. I’ve got so many photos I’ve decided to break it up into parts so as not to crash any computers.

I like this campus. For one, it never seems choked with people. Two, they didn’t shy away from using lots and lots of natural stone. This makes geologists squee.

Stop 1: Interzone

Lockwood tells you to look at the sidewalk. That’s because you’ll find yummy bits in the concrete.

Petrified wood in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

Petrified wood in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

Agate in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

Agate in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

And, drumroll please, my favorite one ever:

Opal in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

Opal in sidewalk concrete, outside the Interzone coffee shop, Corvallis, OR.

I love opal so much, you have no idea. Having it pointed out to me in a worn-down old sidewalk was one of those great moments that make you become inordinately excited.

Stop 2: Kearny Hall

So here we have a nice contrast between fire and water: a nice diabase on the bottom (fire) and sandstone on top (water – or wind, possibly).

Kearny Hall. Note the contrasts between building stones: the darker diabase on the bottom, the lighter sandstone at the top. And then there's a strip of something lighter at the very top, but I think that's some sort of cement or stucco.

Kearny Hall. Note the contrasts between building stones: the darker diabase on the bottom, the lighter sandstone at the top. And then there’s a strip of something lighter at the very top, but I think that’s some sort of cement or stucco.

Close view of the contact between the diabase and the sandstone. Definite difference between the textures of the two rock types there.

Close view of the contact between the diabase and the sandstone. Definite difference between the textures of the two rock types there.

Stop 3: I haven’t got a picture, so we’ll move right along to…

Stop 4: Owen Hall

Lots of geologic art in here, which I shall get to when I get round to the series I’ve planned on geologic art. In the meantime:

Nice contrast between polished and unpolished surfaces in a granitic sort of something - tonalite? Grandiorite? So many members of the granite family it's hard to tell them apart.

Nice contrast between polished and unpolished surfaces in a granitic sort of something – tonalite? Grandiorite? So many members of the granite family it’s hard to tell them apart. Or is it more diabase? I can’t tell at a glance!

Geologists like Callan should be having a good squeal right now. There's some nice structural geology going on in this ball of serpentinite. Can you see it?

Geologists like Callan should be having a good squeal right now. There’s some nice structural geology going on in this ball of serpentinite. Can you see it?

Perhaps Lockwood's pointing fingers will help. Remember that serpentinite is a metamorphic rock all squished and stretched and generally abused by subduction zones.

Perhaps Lockwood’s pointing fingers will help. Remember that serpentinite is a metamorphic rock all squished and stretched and generally abused by subduction zones.

Trust me when I say I wanted to pick up that ball of serpentinite and run home with it. Problem being, it weighs many times more than I do. So picking it up is not possible, and running is right out. But it’s delicious. You can learn more about serpentinite here. Also, I’m sure someone curated a list of links when the geoblogosphere was fighting to keep it as California’s state rock – if someone could leave us a link to that list, I’d appreciate it!

Stop 5. Covell Hall

This is where unisex bathrooms would’ve come in handy, but it’s okay, ladies: the second floor restroom may be all boring and modern manufactured materials, but the first floor has got exactly what we want: stylolitic limestone! Check this stuff out. ‘Tis awesome, and our stylolites are better than the boys’ stylolites.

Stylolitic Limestone. These are broad and curvy lines. Somebody who knows more than bugger-all about them could win hearts and minds by telling us more in the comments.

Stylolitic Limestone. These are broad and curvy lines. Somebody who knows more than bugger-all about them could win hearts and minds by telling us more in the comments.

Zoomed out to see the broad curvy stylolite texture in context. Sorry about the wonky color - the lighting in the bathrooms was appalling.

Zoomed out to see the broad curvy stylolite texture in context. Sorry about the wonky color – the lighting in the bathrooms was appalling.

This, I'll betcha, is the "seismogram type" geometry. Love it!

This, I’ll betcha, is the “seismogram type” geometry. Love it!

Here's another sweet seismogram type. Really does look like a seismogram, dunnit? I want some of this for my house.

Here’s another sweet seismogram type. Really does look like a seismogram, dunnit? I want some of this for my house. I want to see it in the wild even more.

Stop 6.

So here’s this lovely little courtyard, and a big ol’ chunk of half-polished diabase. I like big ol’ chunks o’ rock, especially when people have been wise enough to label them as “art.” They are artistic. They are beautiful.

A lovely bit of diabase. Sled? Boat? Wedge? I think this is one of those sculptures that works like a Rorschach test.

A lovely bit of diabase. Sled? Boat? Wedge? I think this is one of those sculptures that works like a Rorschach test. What do you see?

The difference between polished and rough surfaces. I like it when part of the natural texture of the rock is allowed to survive the making-art process.

The difference between polished and rough surfaces. I like it when part of the natural texture of the rock is allowed to survive the making-art process.

Here endeth Phase I. Phase II will see some really wild crystallization, and some of my favorite rock in the world (like most of them aren’t, right?).

7 comments

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  1. 1
    rq

    Who says you can’t take geology indoors? :) Or at least, take it to an urban setting? Excellent photos; looking forward to the next installment!

  2. 2
    heliconia

    This is so great! I especially love the opal etc. in the sidewalk. I need to learn more geo-facts, I think, as it seems to change how you look at just about everything, including (especially) the ground beneath your feet.

    It would also be amusing to print out some museum-style placards explaining geology trivia like this, and install them in public places.

  3. 3
    cope

    Off the top of my head, my recollection is that stylolites represent formerly open cavities dissolved in limestone. Water working its way through these cavities brings with it fine-grained clastic material that gets deposited on the floor of these cavities. Later collapse of the limestone and re-cementation of it closes up the cavities and leaves behind the dark, jiggly lines of the shale/silt-sized clastic grains. The stylolites originally formed with a generally horizontal orientation but the ones you have pictured have been rotated roughly 90 degrees in the process of being installed.

    Or not…I’ve been out of grad school too many years to trust my memory about such things. Now I’m off to the Google to see how I did.

  4. 4
    cope

    GACK…I give me a D- on my previous answer. Oh well, nice to update my memory banks every so often.

    The campus field trip was something I used to do as a TA when I was at the University of Illinois. Rocks of all types were available including a big granite boulder with the year of its donation (?) inscribed (late 1800s as I recall). I would do a quick and dirty calculation of how long the boulder would last based on how much the inscribed letters and numbers had eroded in the 100 or so years the boulder had been sitting there.

    Good times, good times…

    1. 4.1
      heliconia

      Next time my alma mater comes begging for donations, I’ll offer them a boulder.

      1. rq

        A boulder with the possibility of an embedded opal, just to keep them guessing.

  5. 5
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Hm, serpentinite links. I should have a link to a page of links, but this is certainly worth the visit if you’re interested – it’s where I had read the most about the issue:
    http://geotripper.blogspot.com/search?q=Serpentine

    Oh, this was the one:
    http://highway8a.blogspot.com/2010/07/serpentine-group-of-minerals.html

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