Posts Tagged 'Geology'


Brooklyn, the western end of Long Island, is largely made up of the tailings of the last glacial advances. The terminal moraine and outwash plain are basically rubble. Some glacial erratics may have fossils, and certainly some architectural stone here and there have had their fossils foregrounded, but otherwise this is not fossil country.
But the other day, I took a good look at some of the piled-up rocks of the rip-rap that acts as the borough’s bulwark against the bay. I’d passed these many times before, but this time I was drawn to a curious insect perching on them. After photographing that, I suddenly started see the boulders for the first time.
I don’t know where these rocks came from, but some of them are nothing but old, very old, mud beds, absolutely littered with fossilized remains.
Saw several of these button-like ones. I recognize some shells, as shells anyway, but don’t know what most of this is.

Sullivan Street

South of Washington Square Park in Manhattan, a newish building sports these delightful fossils in its sidewalk-level facade. Smile at the security cameras, or salute them with a single digit, and enjoy!

Trump’s klownish klepto-kakistocracy tackles COVID-19: fundamentalist bigot/anti-science idiot Mike Pence, who as Governor of Indiana caused an epidemic by his ignorance and stupidity, and a Big Pharma lobbyist named Azar are fighting over who’s in charge/who’ll take the fall for their master. Trump’s only concern is how a pandemic might affect his re-election. A lot of Republican cattle, fattened to bovine stupidity by Fox and the Kochs, are already eagerly sacrificing their children on his altar, so don’t look to them for help.

But if you want some real grounding in the latest coronavirus, try this.


A collection of fossils from Missouri, from back when the region was a shallow sea. Long before our time, my friends. These were a gift from a friend who recommended they be boiled a long, long time before they’re ready.

I can’t get over the ones that look like liberty or Phrygian caps. You might be more familiar with those from the French Revolution, but Americans wore them first. Mineralization: turned to stone.

Oh, Schist!

The eastern edge of Twin Island, facing Long Island Sound just north of Orchard Beach in the Bronx, is an outcropping of the Hartland Formation schist.And does it ever outcrop!Quoting the geological argot of the USGS “The rock consists of granitic and garnetiferous amphibolite gneiss with numerous quartz veins and migmatite dikes. Migmatite is an type igneous rock that forms when metamorphic rocks begin to melt under high temperature. Felsic minerals melt and are injected into the surrounding rock along joints, faults, and other zones of weakness in the rock. As the igneous material gradually cools, bands of feldspar and quartz crystals form along the edges of the intrusion. The center of the migmatite veins typically consist of larger crystals of feldspar and quartz. The migmatite stands out in outcrops as light-colored bands in contrast to the darker amphibolite gneiss host rock. In some cases, the dikes cut across older dikes and quartz-filled veins; many are folded or display offset by faulting.” It’s an open-air classroom, so here’s Hunter College on the spot: “The site contains the following rock types: gneiss, amphibolite, migmatite, pegmatite, quartz veins, marble, ptygmatic folds, pearl gneiss, and boudines. The following minerals can be found here: K-feldspar, quartz, biotite, muscovite, hornblende, garnet, pyrite, limonite, kaolinite, calcite, tourmaline, plagioclase, and chlorite.” .I’ll say that again!


“Ithaca is Gorges” is awfully good branding. I thought the gorges that sliced away through shales and sandstones at the northern and southern edges of Cornell were gorgeous.Fall Creek in the rain during the morning. Most of this one is seen from above, on the Cayuga Trail. Only disconcerting thing: all the anti-suicide netting on the bridges.
Cascadilla Gorge in the late afternoon, after the sun had come out. We descended to town from the hill citadel of the university, right alongside the tumbling water.


The National Museum of Copenhagen is filled with flint tools from the pre-metal millennia. This stuff makes for very sharp edges. The stone of Europe’s Stone Age, flint stones were also used to start fires and spark guns into the 19th century. The Baltic beaches were littered with nodules of this dark chert. It’s a finely-grained quartz, not, as I first thought, obsidian (which is volcanic glass). This fist-sized and rather knuckle-like piece was my Swedish souvenir, found on a beach in Malmo. Here’s the verso and recto of a piece I split on the Northumberland coast a few years ago when my dearheart said the original piece was too large to carry back on the plane.The white coating here is typical. According to this site, “The thick white crust, the cortex, is not made of chalk, but of fine-grained opaline silica.”


These are fossilized shells of extinct scallops found on the Piankatank River in Virginia. They’re in the genus Chesapecten, all of whose members no longer live upon this earth. Such mineralized remains are dated from the early Miocene period to the early Pleistocene.

Here’s more detail about the rich fossil world of the Chesapeake.

Trump yearns for an FBI to go after journalists. Secretary of Corruption (formerly Commerce) Wilbur Ross praises the lack of protests in the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. A reporter was arrested when he tried to question Secretary of Death (formerly Health) Tom Price. Meanwhile, the Trump regime has been rather shameless about Turkish gestapo tactics in the heart of Washington D.C., because pretty clearly they want to be able to emulate them. After all, they cite the murderous kleptocracy of Putin’s Russia as a model.

Those who are against our best traditions are not patriots. They are, in fact, traitors. Never, ever, let supporters of Trump get away with claims of patriotism again.








There’s your beautiful world, NW edition. Here’s Masha Gessen, an old hand at autocracy, on surviving Trumpism, very necessary reading now.

Traces of the Ice Age

striationsDon’t you just love these? These grooves are found along the path in the forest of the NYBG, and time and generations of feet have worn them down slightly. They’re glacial striations, gouged out by the rubble on the bottom the ice as it scraped across the hard surface rock.

These can be found in Central Park, too. But not here in the home borough, which is all glacial deposit–made up, come to think of it, with some of that Bronx rock.


IMG_6951Seemingly drilled into the schist of Inwood Hill by some kind of large-bore drill, this is actually a glacial pothole, scoured out by the mighty power of swirling water and abrasive stones during the heady days of the Wisconsin glaciation. The diameter is a little over a foot and a half.

The heights of Inwood, very like a whale from the vantage point of the Hudson, are the northern prong of the Fort Washington Ridge. Geologically, this rock is known as the Manhattan Formation, made of mica and hornblende schist. (“Manhattan’s gneiss, but full of schist” goes the immortal line.) This is the good, hard stuff, the serious, no-nonsense rock, but everything has its weaknesses, and time grinds it all up, as in the mills of the gods.


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