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26 January 2017

Dore Holm

The scenic arch of Dore Holm (“Door Island”) in Shetland shows off the most efficient way of breaking a slab of rock. The island’s shape is a reflection of the parsimonious nature of natural deformation.



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25 January 2017

Y-shaped joints on a basalt flow, Lake Mývatn, Iceland

A basalt flow in Iceland shows both enticing pahoehoe and fractures with a Y-shaped intersection pattern. Comparisons to bread loaves and east Africa suggest a reason why.



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30 June 2016

Virtual field trip to Siccar Point, Scotland

Time for another virtual field trip on the Geologist’s Grand Tour of the United Kingdom: the most famous outcrop in the world. Today, we visit Siccar Point, Scotland. You’ve probably already seen photos of this place – they usually look something like this: To those who aren’t familiar, here’s what going on: There are two sets of strata here – and the contact between them is an ancient erosional surface. …



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20 June 2016

Cushendun Conglomerate of the Cross Slieve Group, Northern Ireland

Want a geological irony? Here’s one! You’re looking at a rounded boulder of Cushendun Conglomerate, a Devonian “Old Red Sandstone” unit (Cross Slieve Group) exposed at Cushendun Caves, Northern Ireland, U.K. The irony lies in the repetition of history – a tumbling environment of high water energy, rounding cobbles and boulders and depositing them, in order to make the conglomerate. And now, ~400 million years later, history repeats itself, with …



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13 January 2015

Glacial striations and robust hackles in Jasper

Check out the argillite boulder in the left midground of this GigaPan, which I’ve showed here before. It was taken at the Icefields Center parking area in Jasper National Park, Alberta: link There, you’ll find some lovely orange lichens, some iron oxide staining, some graffiti, and a fair number of sub-aligned glacial striations. Also, at the top edge of the boulder, there’s a nice set of big hackles, running along …



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4 November 2014

Joints highlighted with hematite, Anapra Sandstone, Cristo Rey

Good morning. Here are two images from last March’s “Border to Beltway” field trip to West Texas, on the north flanks of the Cristo Rey laccolith. Specifically, these are Cretaceous strata of the Anapra Sandstone, looking at the bedding plane of the rocks. Cutting across bedding are a series of fractures (joints) that have been highlighted by the oxidation of iron (rusting) along their edges. In the first photo, the …



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1 September 2014

Field work on the Grinnell Formation at Red Rock Canyon, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Callan’s Rockies field course students document faulting and jointing in Red Rock Canyon, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.



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5 June 2014

Palimpsest tales from a Silurian limestone

My favorite rocks are those that tell multiple stories – rocks that are “palimpsest” with subsequent “chapters” of their biography capable of being teased out, based on different features to be observed in the rock. Click to enlarge What can we see in this small sample of the Silurian-aged Tonoloway limestone, from Corridor H, West Virginia? To start with, it’s sedimentary, and stratified. There are multiple layers of fine-grained gray …



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15 April 2014

Bloomsburg Formation exposed near Elizabeth Furnace

As noted previously, I live in a regional scale fold: the differential erosion of the Massanutten Synclinorium has produced the ridge of Massanutten Mountain, which separates the Fort Valley from the Shenandoah and Page valleys on either side. The Fort is “fort” like because the strata which underlie it are relatively friable, soluble, or otherwise erode-able. The ridge-forming layer is the Massanutten Sandstone, a Silurian-aged quartz arenite. Here’s a boulder …



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22 August 2013

Natural Bridge, Virginia

Our three-day karst theme wraps up today with a visit to Natural Bridge, Virginia, an impressive sight: I went to Natural Bridge early last week to give a talk to a group of Road Scholars (an Elderhostel-like program) about the Snowball Earth. Part of my compensation for the talk was a night’s lodging at the Natural Bridge hotel, meals, and tickets to the Natural Bridge’s suite of six tourist attractions, …



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