Geology Is Cool: Tempting Outcrops


Sometimes even a rank amateur geologist like WC sees an outcrop of rock and would really, really like to get on it with a hammer and a geologist’s loupe.

Rock Outcrop, Rio Santa Elulia canyon

Rock Outcrop, Rio Santa Elulia canyon

What a story this pile of rock could tell to a trained eye (i.e., someone better than WC). Unhappily, this particular outcrop was part of a sheer cliff about 1,000 feet above the valley floor, 2,000 feet below the ridge line and consisted of absolutely rotten rock.

But, from a distance, it looks like ocean beach, partially metamorphized. Hanging in the air at about 10,000 feet above sea level. The green stuff is cactus. Geologists call the green stuff that grows on terrain “fur.”

The competent rock is at the bottom of the canyon. The stuff higher up is mostly mud slides, land slides, mass-wasting and dry ravel. The problem is that the road up the valley is perched on a man-made ledge, more than a thousand feet up, carved into that dried muck.

Santa Eulalia Road through the Andes

Santa Eulalia Road through the Andes

For some reason, Mrs. WC was not happy with this road. It had last been graded in the 18th Century, WC believes. Fascinating geology, though.

WC has heard that post-doctoral geologists can devote a chunk of their professional careers to figuring one outcrop in the Andes. After a day in that incredible terrain, WC can believe it. But perhaps not this one.

 

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