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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Styling" Stylolites. . .

"Styling" Stylolites

      It has been a long day in a big, downtown building with many stylolites:

     The official definition of a stylolite (The Free Dictionary) is: "A secondary structure found along contacting surfaces of adjacent calcareous rock layers, the contact zone appearing in cross section as a series of jagged interlocking up-and-down projections that resemble a suture or the tracing of a stylus."

     What they really are are reminders that limestone, under pressure, changes to marble and the dark bits of various insoluble minerals  like pyrite, clays, and iron oxides remain in the stylolites making them visible.  Stylolite is from two Greek words, stylos or pillar and lithos or stone. The stylolites are serrated or tooth-like surfaces at which darker minerals have been removed by pressure dissolution, in a process that decreases the total volume of rock. In other words, they are dark reminders of intense compression and stress:

     I believe it is no accident that they are found in Courtroom buildings around the world. They may look styling and cool, but they are reminders that dissolution under pressure leaves behind a dark, dark image. And, similar to the vegetable ash layer in the Humboldt Fog Cheese, (See November, 19, 2013 post)  it is that layer to which our eyes are drawn. 

     Yes, stylolites can be quite beautiful:

      I hope to remember that in decompressing this evening (pun very assuredly intended) from today's proceedings.

      Next week: I am considering writing about hydraulic fracturing or fracking. We shall see. Thoughts?

      Here's hoping your day did not include stylolites (unless you are researching or admiring them).


Word Woman (aka Scientific Steph)


  1. My longing to write about fracking stems, in part, from a hiker we met along an Evergreen Trail. "There has never, ever been any contamination anywhere in the world from fracking," was his refrain. Never, ever! . . .

  2. And all along, I thought too much stress can make you lose your marbles!

  3. Sure, Steph, write about fracking. But it seems to me that there are so many sides to the discussion, depending on whose ox is being fracked, that it can be like nailing Jello to a tree. Sure, a domestic source of low-sulfur hydrocarbons sounds good, but prolonging our reliance on fossil fuels instead of renewables sounds bad. It's bad for your tap water to catch fire, but good for strapped family farmers to make some money from the mineral resources under their land. Unless they're really international megacorporations drinking someone else's milkshake, of course.


      I guess it can be done.

  4. And, sorry about your stress-filled day. That top picture almost looks like a flat-line tracing, which usually accompanies someone's very bad day...

  5. Jan, thanks for putting things in perspective. It really wasn't that bad. Nailing jello to a tree is a fitting description for writing about fracking. . . Maybe another topic for another blog, after gathering all my marbles ;-)

  6. That which does not kill us was still trying awfully hard.

    Looking forward to your insights on fracking.


    1. Namaste, Paul.

      I am thinking about how to fit in fracking (auto correct keeps changing it to either franking or cracking) with the blog theme of Partial Ellipsis of the Sun. Yesterday, a friend sent the front page of a 16-page flyer touting guar bean gum as a safe alternative to be added to fracking fluid. It noted that "the same ingredient used in your vanilla ice cream can be used in your fracking fluid!" I think it was meant to be comforting but, frankly (ha!), I prefer it in neither.

      It always comes down to who is going to profit from this be it guar gum sellers or "standard" fracking fluid sellers. The targeting of households (together with Christmas and grocery flyers) with a guar bean investment flyer touting "Approved by the EPA! Approved by Obama!" is just odd to me.

      I will give hydraulic fracturing some more considered thought before next Tuesday. . . And see what topic permeates my writing that day.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. That which does not kill us just delays the inevitable.

    3. Jan, try putting that on a Hallmark card! ;-)

    4. Oh, I much prefer Demotivators:

    5. These are great, especially Multitasking and Ambition (the bear with the fish). . . When do you first remember hearing the word "multitasking?" I know I never heard it growing up.

    6. In the context of computer operating systems, late 1960s. The associated term, when multitasking breaks down, is "thrashing", which better describes what I feel I'm doing when multitasking in real life.

  7. It looks like hundreds of anti-fracking protesters have driven a stake through the heart of Chevron's plans to explore for shale gas in northeastern Romania. More effective than the B-24 raids of WWII.

    1. And they are just exploratory wells, not development wells. Quite striking!

    2. WW/SS,
      Don’t know much about history
      Don’t know much GEOLOGY
      Don’t know much about a science book
      Don’t know much about the French I took…
      That’s why I’m here on your blog; I want to learn. I‘m earth-science-challenged. I enjoy your blog’s message, media, humor and banter. Nice to see jan and Paul on board, hope more join us.
      Fracking is alive and clicking in western Wisconsin around Barron County where I often visit friends. The past controversy appears to have been subsiding. And fracking is booming west of me in the Dakotas. I’d like to get your insight eventually, if not next week. I agree with jan, it’s a multifaceted topic. Maybe it’s a two- or three-parter, “to be continued next Tuesday…”
      Bon chance on your blog!
      Also, thanks for the heads-up on Tammy Baldwin on Blaine’s blog Saturday. I didn’t get to see her campaign or debate so was unsure of where to pigeon-hole her.

    3. LL,

      Glad you are here. I appreciate your rock solid support.

      I was not aware of oil and gas drilling in Wisconsin. I know there is a lot of frac sand mining in western and southern WI, including Barron County. The Jordan Formation sand grains are uniform in size and so make excellent grains to prop open pathways in shales and other "permeability-challenged" rocks. These proppants are now also being explored in the Black Hills of South Dakota (closer to drilling in the Williston Basin in North Dakota).

      Until tomorrow!