Monday, November 24, 2008

Crystal House

A fellow named Roger Hiorns has created a giant sculpture he calls "seizure".
He covered the interior of a house with giant blue crystals.
But god, all the glue-gunning sounds so exhausting.
So, instead, he sealed the house, and poured in from the top ~90,000 liters of copper sulfate. A few weeks later, he drained the house. (I'm presuming it wasn't as dramatic as, say, opening the door and letting a flood of blue flow out.)

Personally, all sarcasm aside, I think it's a pretty cool project. It reminds me a lot of photos from the Poles, with the ice crystals clinging to everything. It also is a cool example of how substances bond into crystalline shapes, and lord knows how I love bonding.

More details here and here.

(via apartment therapy

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cueva de los Cristales

Um, wow? This is a shot from a cave discovered in 2000 in Mexico by some miners. Definitely on my list of Top Ten Caves to Visit.
For a better description, head to Geology News.

To survive.


Costco is a bad idea though. The large glass doors would be too difficult to blockade.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I don't have time to complete blogging about my badass rock vacation this summer, but I can share this photo:

This is Hopkin's Chocolate Cave at Lava Bed National Monument. I think it's a cupola: "CUPOLA: A recess in the ceiling of a lava tube. Possible origins of a cupola are: a cavity created by collapse, inflation of the roof by gas or lava pressure, or the roofed-over site of a former tube overflow. See also: rise chamber. Cf: alcove. Aka: breakdown dome, ceiling dome, covered skylight, dome, filled skylight, former skylight, old skylight, overflow dome, roofed-over skylight, standpipe chamber." ("Nomenclature of Lava Tube Features"; Larson; "6th International Symposium on Vulcanospeleology")
My parents swung by today, and brought me a dresser and bookshelves! It's fantastic to have an actual living space, and to easily access my books. And I don't feel too guilty, because most of the furniture was just hanging around their house.
So, the week's off to a good start. I'm going to go do my chemistry homework, and, as long as I don't get sucked into Dancing with the Stars, it'll continue to be a good week.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Oregon Caves: A Brief Introduction

Oregon Caves is eroded out of a giant chunk of marble, metamorphosed from limestone that was scraped off the Pacific plate. The black lines are graphite. Only 5% of the world's caves are marble, because it's much more difficult to erode than limestone. This hardness is also why the cave is tiny compared to, say, Carlsbad.

Water drips down through organic material on the surface, picking up carbon dioxide. This carbonic acid drips through the marble, dissolving the rock and collecting the minerals. In the hollow of the cave, the carbon dioxide dissipates, precipitating the minerals, and formations slowly grow.

One type of formation is called rimstone, or gours. These "dams" grow in areas with slow water movement and low gradients.

Back in the 1900s, people destroyed a large section of rimstone in the cave. This rimstone should stretch across the passage.

This is an empty crystal pool elsewhere in the cave. However, it is evident that the destroyed rimstone was covered with crystal.

It is certainly made out of crystal. You can see the tree-like crystal structure.

As a contrast, this is the crystal structure of flowstone.

But observing the crystal structure of these formation should be impossible, because they shouldn't be broken. This piece even has a thick layer of epoxy glued on. It makes me very glum.

But, despite the damage, there are still many cool formations in the cave.

There are also neat cave bugs, like these endemic harvestmen (which are not spiders!) In the winter, they gather inside the cave to stay warm, and occasionally do pushups (no, I'm not kidding you.) They can also self-amputate their legs, and then grow them back. All of which makes them into my favorite insect, ever.

And, on the surface, you can see fawns.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lava Caving.

On my way back from Santa Fe, I flew into Boise for a regional caving convention at Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was ridiculously awesome.

The first lava tube I went to was walking passage, and coated with thick ice. There were ice stalagmites on the ground maybe a foot around, and these immense stalactites. In many places the ground was covered with ice six inches thick, flowing all across the breakdown on the floor. It was pretty tricky.

A lava tube forms when a fast moving, viscous lava flow cools on the outside. The flow inside the hardened shell continues to move, finally vacating the space, creating a tube. Sometimes another flow goes through a previously created tube, or forms a new one atop an old.

This is what the surface looks like, and what we got to hike across for a few miles. It's an immense cooled lava field, covered with tubes. In places you break through small pockets - it's pretty treacherous. Gorgeous, too.
There is very little soil on the lava field, but plants manage to grow there anyway. The contrast is great.

As the surface of the flow cools, it's volume decreases to compensate, and it cracks. Sometimes you can't see the bottom, they're that deep.

The second day we drove out to another cave. Along the way, the cavers got very, very lost. Instead of spending 1.5hours driving to the cave, we spent 3hours.

Here are some more pictures of Craters of the Moon and the surrounding area:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

At least the French appreciate Lavoisier.

Paris, France

"The impossibility of seperating the nomenclature of a science from the science itself, is owing to this, that every branch of physical science must consist of three things; the series of facts which are the objects of the science, the ideas which represent these facts, and the words by which these ideas are expressed. Like three impressions of the same seal, the word ought to produce the idea, and the idea to be a picture of the fact. And, as ideas are preserved and communicated by means of words, it necessarily follows that we cannot improve the language of any science without at the same time improving the science itself..."
"Elements of Chemistry", Lavoisier

On the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France