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13 December 2019

Friday fold: blueschist & eclogite at Jenner, California

A pre-Fall Meeting field trip to the coast of northern California yields rare sights of garnet-bearing blueschist, plus eclogite, some pillow basalts, birds, waves, wind, and a lot of rain.


29 April 2019

Monday Geology Picture: Pillow Basalt Decor

This week I’m sharing a picture of a lovely pillow basalt decorative slab that is part of the decor in the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia.  In this slab, you can see pillow shapes outlined by lovely glass rinds, which formed when the basaltic lava rapidly cooled because it was erupted underwater. I just love this decorative slab — who wouldn’t want …


8 January 2019

Geology of the Galapagos Islands

Dozens of delectable geological images from the Galapagos Islands, showing fluid basalt flows and violent pyroclastic deposits along with many primary volcanic features (and a bit of sedimentology thrown in for good measure).


25 June 2018

Mafic volcanics atop felsic instrusives: Sonora Pass, California

Sonora Pass, California, is a lovely place to examine a volcanic-on-plutonic nonconformity that spans about 80 million years of missing time. Let’s check it out on a photo-rich virtual field trip!


22 January 2018

Monday Geology Picture: Pele’s Hair

For this week’s post, here’s a picture showing a lovely example of Pele’s Hair, which is a type of volcanic glass that consists of fibers or thin strands. Although I’ve visited many volcanoes (including a few active ones) over the years, I’ve never seen Pele’s Hair in the field. So, I was quite happy to see this excellent example in the volcano museum on Réunion Island. I visited the museum during …


30 October 2017

Monday Geology Picture: Pretty Pahoehoe

For this week’s picture, here’s another lovely shot of pahoehoe basalt that I took during a March 2017 vacation to Réunion Island. I previously shared a picture of some Réunion pahoehoe here.


23 October 2017

Monday Geology Picture: Basaltic Weathering

For this week’s picture, here’s an image of a relatively young basaltic surface weathering. You can see yellow-green olivine crystals weathering out of the dark matrix. Olivine is one of the first minerals to weather out of rocks, so you can tell that these basalts must be young. Older basalts generally don’t contain fresh olivine, at least not any crystals that you can easily identify with the naked eye. I …


9 October 2017

Monday Geology Picture: Sani Pass, Lesotho

For this week’s geology picture, here’s a shot that I took last year when I visited Sani Pass, which is one of the ways to enter Lesotho. The country of Lesotho is located high up in basaltic mountains, entirely above 1,000 m. You can see basaltic cliffs on either side of this picture. The basalts erupted approximately 180 million years ago and are part of the Karoo Large Igneous Province. I’ll …


2 October 2017

Monday Geology Picture: Posing with Pahoehoe

First of all, for this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” enjoy this fantastic picture of me sitting on some pahoehoe lava earlier this year, when I visited Réunion Island back in March. Second of all, let me provide a little explanation about why I have been terribly negligent of this blog over the past few months, despite my best intentions at the beginning of the year. In January I fully intended to read one science …


22 September 2017

Friday fold: bend in a vesicular lava flow, Etna

It’s the First Friday of Fall! Here’s a sort of fold to help you celebrate: a section through a ∧ shaped bend in a vesicular basalt flow from the eastern flanks of Mount Etna in Sicily. It’s due to volcanic lava flowing rather than ductile deformation of a pre-existing solid rock (our usual habit with this feature), but I think we can appreciate it regardless:


15 May 2017

Monday Geology Picture: Pahoehoe Lava Flow

For this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” here’s a stunning example of a pahoehoe lava flow. I took this picture back in March when I visited Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Réunion Island. I’ll be sharing more pictures from Réunion soon – stay tuned!


7 February 2017

Basaltic strata, faulting, and glaciation in western Iceland

Today, let’s journey to Iceland, to a bit northwest of Reykjavík. This is a view from the top of the Grábrók cinder cone, across the valley to the east. With very few exceptions, Iceland is a big pile of basalt, and that shows through in the walls of this valley, which display a stack of basaltic lava flows, intercalated in places with pyroclastic debris or volcaniclastic sediment. One portion of …


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.


29 October 2016

New digital media of Shenandoah National Park feeder dikes

In Shenandoah National Park, astride Virginia’s Blue Ridge, feeder dikes of Catoctin Formation (meta-)basalt cut across the Grenvillian-aged granitoid basement. Due to their mafic composition and columnar jointing, these feeder dikes generally weather more rapidly than their host rocks. I led a field trip in the park on Thursday for my son’s school, and my student Marissa was there the weekend prior, checking out the autumn leaves and geology with …


6 October 2016

Oddball Icelandic rocks, part I: A green ignimbrite

Iceland does basalt really, really well. But there are a few non-basaltic igneous rocks to be found there, too. One of them is a green ignimbrite (pyroclastic conglomerate) that crops out in coastal Berufjörður, eastern Iceland. Check it out!


3 October 2016

A virtual field trip to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

Rathlin Island lies north of mainland Northern Ireland, a few miles offshore. I spent three lovely days there this past summer, investigating the geology and appreciating the wildlife (puffins and other sea birds, and seals). The geology is pretty straightforward: Paleogene basalt overlying Cretaceous “chalk” (really not so chalky here – technically, it’s the Ulster White Limestone). Here’s a suite of interactive imagery that you can use to explore Rathlin’s …


21 September 2016


Based on this photo, what do you think Stađarbjargavík might have to offer? If you guessed columnar jointing in basalt, you’d be right! Looking down the fjord, south of Hofsós (in Iceland): The place is basically a series of miniature Giant’s Causeways, full of unpopulated exemplars of cooling columns! Little coves separate the small peninsulas, each filled with rounded column bits: Here’s a spot where one more is about to …


15 September 2016

Pillow basalts from eastern Washington: a 3D model

Since I showed off some Icelandic pillow basalts yesterday, today I thought I would showcase a new 3D model of big pillows in Columbia River basalt of eastern Washington, taken from a photo set I made when I was out there in May:


14 September 2016

Pillows in Icelandic basalts

Time is short these days, but I know you hanker for amazing geology. How about some pillow basalts from the Snæfellsnes* Peninsula, far western Iceland? Note the cm-demarcated pencil for scale. See if you can find it in the GigaPan version below: [gigapan id=”188175″] Link Handheld GigaPan by Callan Bentley, stitched with Microsoft ICE _________________________ * “Snay full snooze”


25 June 2016

A virtual field trip to the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Some of planet Earth’s best examples of basaltic cooling columns are found at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. In this post, explore four different kinds of interactive digital media as a way of experiencing the Causeway virtually, from the comfort of your computer.