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21 February 2017

Q&A, episode 3

A reader asks about the use of zircons in isotopic dating, and the argument for submerged continental crust beneath Mauritius.

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11 January 2017

More Messengers from the Mantle

Since I showed off the 3D kimberlite intrusion breccias yesterday, I feel as if I owe you some other photos from that lovely exhibit at the IGC. I apologize for the poor quality of these photos – the gorgeous samples were behind glass and brightly lit, which made photography difficult. But the rocks are sooooooooo pretty, I think you’ll enjoy viewing them just the same. Let’s start with a gargantuan …

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23 April 2016

Mineral surfaces under the SEM: 6 new micro-GigaPans

As mentioned yesterday, my student Robin has been having some success lately in making GigaPan-scale imagery using the new desktop scanning electron microscope that our division acquired. They aren’t as super-high resolution as most of the other GigaPan images I post here, but they are very, very small – and thus expand the scope of our imaging initiative. Enjoy exploring: find cleavage planes, microscopic plumose structures, examples showing the constancy …

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2 April 2016

Five new GIGAmacro images

Here are a few new images I’ve been working on with my home-based Magnify2 imaging system from GIGAmacro. Strophomenid brachiopods from Mississippian Mauch Chunk Formation, West Virginia: Link Boninite from New Caledonia: Link Lepidodendron scale-tree bark from Poland: Link Potassium feldspar crystal, from a pegmatite: Link Catoctin Formation greenstone from a feeder dike east of Linden, Virginia: Link Enjoy exploring them for details.

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17 March 2016

A GIGAmacro view of the front and back of an anorthosite cobble

Here are two views of a single anorthosite cobble, collected in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York: Raw, natural surface: Link Slabbed and polished surface: Link As you zoom in and explore these GIGAmacro images, see if you can find the delicate little “necklaces” (reaction rims) of garnet wrapping around the few isolated pyroxenes!

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28 April 2015

Epidotized tuff, Tucson Mountains, Arizona

I was in Tucson this past weekend for a book project meeting, and my editor and coauthor and I took a hike on Sunday morning in the Tucson Mountains to Wasson Peak. Not far from the summit, we saw an epidotized tuff, where the fiamme and pumice blobs had undergone reactions to produce pods of epidote, giving the rock a look like a sick dalmatian: This is a cool rock …

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13 November 2014

Gypsum casts? You be the judge — UPDATE: Syneresis cracks!

Silurian aged mud cracks feature small lensoidal features: are they casts of ancient gypsum crystals?

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30 October 2014

Geomystery: what are these white lines?

Esteemed readership, I’ve got a mystery for you. What are these white lines, inclined consistently at a high angle to bedding? I picked up this sample below the “Wall of Death,” on the trail from Wapta Lake below Mount Wapta, en route to the Walcott Quarry of the Burgess Shale. The “zebra-striped” rock is of the Eldon Formation of the Cambrian section in Yoho National Park. At first, I thought …

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29 September 2014

Charnockite at Swift Run Gap

Over the weekend, I ran a 1-credit field course for NOVA, on the geology of Shenandoah National Park. I was about eight minutes early getting to the meet-up location, so that allowed me to check out a promising new outcrop of rock along the road (route 33, ~100 m west of Swift Run Gap). Here are two photos of it: charnockite (pyroxene-bearing granitoid or meta-granitoid), with weak foliation: This is …

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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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