Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Volcanoes in Austin

with 23 comments


When most people think of Austin they don’t think of volcanoes. Nevertheless, this region was once volcanically active. Whether the sinuous brown strata in a cliff along Onion Creek in far southeast Austin in this picture from July 19 are igneous, I’m not sure, but an expanse of rock a few minutes’ walk away from this spot clearly suggests an origin as congealed flows of lava.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2016 at 4:57 AM

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Good morning Steve,
    Now that’s interesting: the Austin region once was volcanic. I hadn’t known that! Thanks for the info.
    Have a great weekend,


    September 10, 2016 at 5:03 AM

  2. Shades of Punakaiki in this photo.


    September 10, 2016 at 7:48 AM

  3. Pilot Knob near McKinney Falls is another visible example of volcanic activity in the area.

    Jeri Porter

    September 10, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    • Right you are. There’s more information about that in the link in my text. That land is private, so I’ve never been there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2016 at 8:56 AM

  4. I had no idea there’s been volcanic activity in the state. I couldn’t put it together with what I’ve learned about limestone, fossils, seabed, and such, but your link made it clear: underwater volcanoes.

    The rocky curve in the photo looks like a smile. Perhaps the earth’s smiling over its little secret, thinking, “I know something you don’t know. A volcano lived here.”


    September 10, 2016 at 8:57 AM

    • A classic example of underwater volcanoes is Hawaii. In a television show on the Smithsonian channel last night, one Hawaiian volcano was said to be the third biggest in the world—provided you start measuring at its underwater base.

      I don’t know about the strata, but I smile at the thought of this section of cliff and another close by, both of which I’ve returned to photograph a bunch of times over the years. I expect geology teachers have taken their students to those places as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2016 at 9:23 AM

  5. My memory is curiously jogged back to a passage in a book that I read many years ago, that I thought was by Mark Twain, but Google can’t seem to confirm that for me now. Anyway, it involved a character who pompously pretended to be a geologist and demonstrated his lack of real knowledge by lecturing his companions on such things as the “layers and strata” in the rock formations that they were seeing. I remember how funny I though this was. Does anyone else out there recognize this character?


    September 10, 2016 at 10:33 PM

    • I’m afraid I don’t recognize that anecdote. I can tell you that Mark Twain has had plenty of sayings falsely attributed to him. So has Confucius.

      What makes your anecdote humorous, the pretentious doubling up of synonyms, is unfortunately a common trait in the speech and writing of educationists (my derogatory term for the people in charge of education). For example, those people often prattle about “goals and objectives.” I always want to ask them to give me an example of something that’s a goal but not an objective, or an objective that’s not a goal. Another phrase is “gifted and talented.” You get the idea.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2016 at 10:54 PM

  6. It’s interesting about your volcanoes. I don’t think volcanoes when I think Texas, but it’s the same here in many flat regions. Australia is supposedly one of the older continents and many of our original volcanoes have been eroded down over a long period of time. We see evidence often in gullies and gorges though and also where the harder cones have remained to stand as pinnacles. I find the layers, patterns and formations fascinating, as I am sure you do. 🙂


    September 17, 2016 at 1:46 AM

    • I’ve taken pictures of these layers a bunch of times over the last decade because I find them so visually appealing. I think not a lot of people know they’re there, just as not a lot of people know about the volcanic activity in this area millions of years ago. Perhaps people in Australia are more conscious of your volcanic origins—or maybe it’s just you and the relatively small number of scientists and nature lovers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 10:03 AM

  7. As always, I thoroughly enjoy this shot of rocks. I am amazed to learn your area was once volcanic.


    October 5, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    • Yeah, this shot rocks!

      You’re not alone in being surprised that the Austin area was once volcanic. In fact you’re in the large majority.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2016 at 9:14 AM

      • Oh I hate to be in the majority 😦 How unoriginal of me. If something good rocks, does something bad sand?


        October 5, 2016 at 4:20 PM

        • I’m rarely in the majority myself. Many of the things that interest most other people don’t interest me, and the things I’m most interested in don’t interest a lot of other people.

          To answer the question you asked about rocks and sand, one might have to be stoned.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 5, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: