A few days ago I visited the former Leona Quarry, now slowly filling with townhomes. The view was great.
The rock slope on the north side looks rugged but is heavily engineered with many setbacks and retaining walls. But I was here to look at the rocks. There’s no trespassing on the high slopes, which is just as well because there is little bedrock to be seen. The whole hill is mapped as quartz keratophyre at the very bottom of the Great Valley sequence, of Jurassic age (no younger than 140 million years). It’s lava flows from an oceanic volcanic arc, like modern-day Japan or the Philippines, that have been heavily altered. It’s typically light colored with strong rust stains and full of fractures. You’ll see several different examples below.
Some outcrops show bits of less-altered gray lava, although this example is still full of veins.
This small boulder displays slickensides. The white mineralization includes quartz as well as carbonate minerals, sometimes layers of each in the same vein.
It’s pretty sterile, but life is taking hold amid the stones.
I took a couple hand specimens of the hardest, most pristine looking rocks. Even these have a greenish tinge from metamorphism. This specimen has faint banding in it, probably metamorphic rather than from flowing of the lava.
This kind of rock is almost impossible to study without using thin sections and a petrographic microscope. I don’t know what I would call it if the map didn’t say—probably just “altered lava.” Quartz keratophyre is specifically a metamorphosed trachyte, a highly alkaline high-silica lava. That’s meaningful to petrologists in a way that would put most of us to sleep if they were to tell us about it. I don’t mean that unkindly. But I’d hazard a guess that here it reflects some input from subducted continental sediments as well as the usual melted seafloor.
Rock from the Leona Quarry appears all around town in rustic walls, but I suspect that nearly all of its output went to crushed stone.