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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seams Like Only Yesterday (edited)

Like young love, those darn seams are driving me crazy. They're as hard to figure out as women. I just can't get a handle on them. Seams are not what they seem.  It seams like I'm dreaming; seams like old times; seams like only yesterday—all my troubles were so far away. It seams like I'll never figure Geology out. Ok, it's early. You we're expecting Thoreau at this hour? Click the "Read More" button to see what I mean and help me (if you can) figure out the "seams" in Valley of Fire.

At first glance one might assume the seams are sedimentary. But closer inspection reveals that they often run perpendicular to each other and surrounding layers of sandstone, and, all the seams are of the exact same thickness... something you wouldn't expect with sedimentary rock formation. 

The composition of the seams is harder than sandstone that sandwiches them (they often protrude above and beyond it) but not so hard that they don't erode with sandstone found in creek bottoms. 

On top, where running water is less forceful, seams remain in place longer than the softer sandstone. Notice the incongruence with sedimentary layers of sandstone below.

Well why don't you just ask the ranger? you say. Because we are no longer in Valley of Fire; the BBC often lags real time. If it wasn't still dark, the view out my window would have a body of water in a slender gap between rugged volcanic mountains. Their summits fade into sodden sad clouds that weep tears of joy for the gift of rain in a dry desert land. Rain in the desert releases the sweet aroma of creosote bush. The scent stirs memories of this former desert rat's Arizona childhood. Inhaling this perfume conjures up images from an innocent age and time when cars had "fins" not unlike the seams in photo number four. I remember playing in our desert front yard, Dad's bold, four inch wide neckties, Mom's mink stole and Sunday-go-to-church bonnets, my fashionable crewcut... "butched" up in front with a Vasoline-like hair gel... and music that fit the times, un-raunchy lyrics and pure melodies you could sing along with your parents. Lucy and Desi had twin beds, and no one came on at intermission telling you to ask you doctor about Viagra. "Daddy? What's Viagra?" God.

Right now, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" replays in my head... all from the smell of wet Creosote bush. I digress, as usual...


  1. With each picture my excitement to experience this beautiful park grows. So glad we changed our plans so we won't miss this beauty.

    I will have to find out more about the seams when I get there. Maybe I'll have an answer for you on our blog in mid Feb!

    Really enjoyed the amazing photos and creative text.

  2. I must say, I so enjoy your blog. It is as if I am on two journeys one of words the other a delightful vision. They don't always seem to relate but then in one magical moment they come together as if they were always meant to be united. Bravo!

  3. It appears, since both rock formations are sedimentary, that the wide sandstone layers are the result of wind piling sand into dunes. Then, intermittently, the land may have been covered by narrow seas or lakes...hence the flat incursions if they are of limestone composition. Just my thoughts. Great pictures, by the way! Thank you.

  4. I don't have any idea of the how or why. I just know I never get tired of looking at them. Beautiful pictures!

  5. I'm with Steve and Joan and only can add my belief that God is magical.

    I can however offer this. As the daughter of a long past lifelong barber, I grew up sitting in the shop reading tossed away comic books waiting for school to begin. Why am I telling you this? It was called "butch wax"! YW!! lol

  6. Susan here. Okay. We did ask the ranger. And it's complicated. The colored layers came first. One color on top of the other. Second, they were compacted; but NOT necessarily at the color line. So the 'horizontal' lines are the compaction layers. Problem is that this second step isn't always horizontal. Then third, the whole dern thing cracks and lets in a harder goop that fills the cracks. So since sandstone erodes at a faster rate than the harder goop, fins are left sticking out of rock that has layers but not necessarily layers of color. Isn't that easily understandable? Maikel will have a mock-up prepared when we see you next, okaY?

  7. Ancient sand dunes deposited with various mixed minerals for color leaving behind angled bedding planes that change due to shifting winds. This followed by lithification, pressured into rock, with some cracking where liquid mixed with quartz also lithified and it's harder rock than sandstone so doesn't erode as quickly.

    Pretend I didn't just type that.

  8. Your photos are exceptional with color, patterns, texture and good composition.

    In one photo, it looked like a profile of a head of someone laying down on top of the rocks.

  9. Sedimentary layers of Aztec Sandstone Fm., and upturned from some orogony - my guess is the Sevier.

    More great photos!

  10. Valley of Fire "seams" lovely!

  11. Great pictures thats "seam" to show a lot of interesting views. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I received this Email from reader Chef Ted...

    Hi Mark,
    I used to embarrass my kids by hugging particular desirable volcanic conglomerate on the Appalachian Trail, to their now twenty something 's enduring horror. I saw those "seams" and thought to my self that they were probably cracks made by tectonic shifts over the eons. As it rained for millions of years, mineral solution, hardened in the cracks forming a harder rock, that doesn't erode as quickly as the sandstone...so I contacted a geologist in the area..gotta love the internet for research...if I had to have gone to a library, well I didn't want to know that bad!


    an online blogger has a question about the "seams" in the sandstone, that don't erode our as quickly as the sandstone.

    I am assuming your explanation here would explain them?

    "Chemical action has added soluble materials - lime and silica – to the groundwater. Moving through the joints and fault surfaces of Aztec sandstone, these chemicals occasionally find an environment for precipitation. The joints are sometimes filled these chemicals. After precipitation the newly formed minerals calcite or quartz, often harder than the surrounding sandstone, are left standing as narrow ridges after the sandstone has eroded away. Where blocks have sheared off, the vertical joints thus exposed are often veneered with the white mineral deposits."

    Thanks in advance,
    amateur geologist Ted

    From: wellerr@cochise.edu
    To: Cheftedcatering@aol.com
    Sent: 1/27/2013 8:00:24 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
    Subj: RE: Vally of Fire question

    I would suspect that the resistant material is quartz, not calcite. Calcite is more vulnerable to weathering. The sandstone is made of quartz grains either cemented by calcite or quartz. If cemented by calcite, the sandstone would weather away much faster than the solid quartz joint fillings, leaving the flat sheets..

    Roger Weller

  13. John/Pam,
    I think we are getting closer to an explanation, thanks to reader knowledge, involvement, research. :)) Maybe you will be able to explain it to the Rangers in V of F. Thanks for chiming in :)

    Kib Explorer,
    Just when I'm about ready to throw my "pen" into a deep dark canyon and embrace anonymity, a comment like yours comes along and sets things right again. Deepest thanks. I wish you well on your "Journey," and look forward to following along :)0

    Thanks for commenting on the BCB! The answer seems to be blowing in the wind... :)

    Steve and Joan,
    I feel the same way about flowers... I don't have to know their names to enjoy them :) Besides, Bobbie is the resident "flowerologist." thanks.

    Meow Momma,
    I could not for the life of me bring up the proper name for that hair stiffening crap... I knew it was "Butch" something. So thank you. Now I'll have to re-edit the post :)) Gee, readers are full of trivia :))

    Susan Wiseone,
    Now I'm really confused :(( Sheesh!

    I think you are on the trail to truth! Thank you!
    I bet you are getting excited about your African Safari!!! Have a great trip.

    Readers: To follow along with Gaelyn, click her name here or in my side bar links.

    Travel Bug,
    Thank you! I try to be aware of composition in most of my photos. Proper composition keeps the eye moving like a good painting does.
    I too, see things in the rocks :))

    Spotted Dog,
    Thanks! I like that word, orogeny :))

    Pam and Wayne,
    Oh boy... here comes the puns :))

    Geo and Suz
    Yep... like I said...

    Chef Ted,
    Thanks for going to the trouble to consult a specialists :) This really put it in terms I could understand!

  14. Just finished reading your entire month in Zion. Oh, my, amazing! We should land there somewhere early April. I will then reread each hike. The Subway hike was breath taking but I had my heart in my throat at times. Guess we need to get a pole! Thanks so much for the beautiful words and photos...what fun I had following.

    I must be a little dense but I can't find an email address for you so I can get some inside info on off beat trails in Valley of Fire...help!

    So glad we found your blog which was suggested by Metamorphosis. check us out, as well!

  15. John and Pam
    Great... You will love Zion
    Email me at mej4@mac.com

  16. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/roswell/valley_of_fires.html


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