Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Crystalline layers

with 10 comments

Crystalline Layer 9856

In the picture two days ago showing geological formations at Caprock Canyons State Park, you may have noticed layers of light-colored rock extending across the sandstone in several places. This lighter-colored rock, of which you see a sample more closely in the picture above, is rather soft, and I noticed broken pieces of it, like those shown below, on the trail in several places when I was there on April 15th. Not knowing what kind of mineral it is, I asked geologist Eric Potter, who determined that it’s gypsum. (Coincidentally, Eric and I are leading a nature walk in Great Hills Park starting at 9 o’clock this morning. If you’re in the area and would like to come along, join us at the playscape on Sierra Oaks.)

Crystalline Rock Shards 9746

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

10 Responses

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  1. Enjoy the walk. I don’t think I will get there in time.


    May 3, 2014 at 6:22 AM

  2. When we were in northernwestern OK early in April, we saw some gypsum layers on tops of some short buttes at this state park. http://wp.me/p3izEO-qk

    Jim in IA

    May 3, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    • I checked the map and noticed that, relatively speaking, you weren’t that far away from Caprock Canyons, so that may explain the similar earth formations we saw. I also saw and photographed the kind of dried-out plant that’s in the lower right corner of your display of pictures, but I haven’t figured out what it is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 3, 2014 at 7:10 AM

  3. I like working with Selenite, though it is not the ungrounded person’s friend. I can use it a lot like an xray machine. It hums a nice firm hum when grounded and a horrid zippy skin crawl when not. 🙂 I’ve never seen it in its natural surroundings! Thanks!


    May 3, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    • Glad to oblige. Just as I wish I’d taken an introductory botany class in college, I wish I’d had one on basic geology. I think I’d have a better appreciation for the natural world if I knew more about what I was seeing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 3, 2014 at 7:29 AM

  4. One of the realities of Panhandle ilfe is what’s known as gyp water. People I’ve met from the area can go on for hours about the horrors of the stuff. Here’s a fun article about it, written from a local perspective.

    One of the best books I found for traveling Kansas is called “Roadside Kansas: A Traveler’s Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks.” It traces the route of several highways in the state, and provides commentary down to the tenth of a mile. For example, from the section on Interstate 70:

    “[Mile] 225.8 Dakota Formation Sandstone southeast of the highway. The Dakota has produced many fossilized plants. For example, in this area, it was the source of a fossilized pinecone-like structure that may have grown on a Cretaceous relative of today’s redwood tree.”

    The only problem with a book like that is it could take a full day to go ten miles. On the other hand, that could be its primary advantage. I need to go looking and see if I can find something similar for Texas.


    May 4, 2014 at 7:11 AM

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