Archive for the ‘oakland rocks’ Category

Claremont chert, and other Oakland rocks, in Sunol

16 November 2014

The other day I took a field trip to see the construction site of the new dam for the Calaveras Reservoir. (The old dam is being replaced because it’s not strong enough to endure a big earthquake on the Calaveras fault, which runs essentially right through it.) It was a cool time, with fossils and big construction vehicles and engineers and grout. As the dam people were orienting us that morning, they passed around specimens of the major rock types in the area, and here was a fine chunk of chert from the Claremont Formation.

Claremont-in-Sunol

The stuff in our Oakland hills is white, because its carbon content was been leached out. This deep specimen retains the organic remains of ancient plankton that make the Claremont, like its larger sibling the Monterey Formation, source rocks for petroleum. (I showed you an exposure of similar stuff down at Alum Rock Park a while back.)

What the heck, I’m not planning to publish these anywhere else: here’s a cobble from a conglomerate down there that’s been stretched and fractured by activity on the Calaveras fault. It was exactly like the examples in our own Oakland Conglomerate.

calaverascobble

I think this one was from the Berryessa Formation (which is also found up at Alum Rock). Considering the looseness of the definitions of these formations, I feel safe in correlating them, although Crittenden defined the Berryessa as lying above the Oakland. Anyway, the phenomenon is the same.

One major feature of the construction project is an enormous cut made into the hill on the west side of the dam site. Basically, they discovered an active landslide there and decided to excavate the whole damn thing. We got to wander out along this exposure and hunt for fossils in the Temblor Formation, or at least rocks mapped as the Temblor.

calaverascut

There were a fair number of big ol’ scallop shells to be found, usually in pieces. Also some coaly bits of fossil wood. This is a rare exposure of an actual bedding plane, as marked by a pavement of scallop shells in what looks like their growth position.

calaveraspectens

We also learned a lot about the recent project that rebuilt part of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct that runs through here. Once the work was done, this tunnel-digging machine became surplus.

calaverasdigger

The guy asked us if we wanted to bid on it. I thought it had the makings of a good Burning Man stunt.

The Las Aromas serpentinite

26 September 2014

The southern edge of the Piedmont Pines neighborhood butts against Joaquin Miller Park, and there’s no reason to visit if you don’t happen to live there—except if you like serpentinite. The street named Las Aromas dips into the belt of serpentinite that extends up and over the ridge to Serpentine Prairie, and the rock type is well exposed. One resident has done a lot of landscaping in this inhospitable rock type.

lasaromas-serp1

The scaly structure is typical of serpentinite, and here it’s fairly close to the Hayward fault. Farther uphill is this exposure, where the grain of the rock is parallel to the street.

lasaromas-serp2

Its blue-green color is striking. And there are a few spots where friction in the recent geologic past has turned it glossy. The rocks aren’t as spectacular as Serpentine Prairie itself, but they’re still noteworthy.

lasaromas-serp3

I never tire of our state rock. Speaking of Serpentine Prairie, today on KQED Science there’s a story on the ongoing effort to propagate the rare Presidio Clarkia. (I photographed it a few years ago before they fenced off the area.)

Local boulders in the Calaveras triangle

8 August 2014

Where the Warren Freeway ends in its merge into I-580, most people drive south onto 580 east. The handful of locals or lost drivers who instead take the last exit to get onto 580 west will go through perhaps 580’s most deserted interchange. That’s where the highway builders installed this humble triangle, splitting the freeway exit for the even smaller handful of drivers going east on Calaveras Avenue to Mountain Boulevard and those going west, briefly, on Calaveras and onto the upramp to 580 west. The triangle is paved with river cobbles and populated with natives.

13-to-580triangle

The oak trees are easy enough to see in this view from across Calaveras. But what’s that in their shade? Why it’s one of several large local boulders.

13-to-580trianglerock

I didn’t take notes, but I think these are Leona volcanics, the same stuff that was quarried nearby for decades at the Leona Quarry. Pay them a visit next time you’re walking or biking through that godforsaken area. Sit on them in the shade; they like that.

More local serpentine

1 August 2014

Every now and then I come across a wall or a garden boulder that’s so beautiful I have to take a picture. Such was the case with this serpentinite specimen on or around Huntington Street.

huntington-serp

This is near Oakland’s great serpentine patch, and it likely came from there.

Geranium Place rocks and runoff

27 July 2014

Geranium Place occupies a sloping bit of land just north of Horseshoe Creek below Redwood Road. This map shows the location plus the sites of the photos in this post.

geraniummap

The bedrock here is mapped as Franciscan melange on the west and the Leona volcanics on the east, the same stuff exposed in the huge Leona Quarry just down the Warren Freeway. The rocks I saw were clearly the latter, but you have to take the lines on the geologic map as approximations. If I’d been there fifty years ago when the homes here were being built I might have been able to tell better, while the foundations were exposed. BUT! there is bedrock to look at in any case.

The first thing that caught my eye, though, was the gutters. What’s going on here?

geranium1

Iron-rich runoff like this is not expected from undisturbed land. Perhaps the area was once a borrow pit or small quarry. Across Horseshoe Creek is the big quarrying operation above Laundry Canyon, and just beyond is the notorious McDonell sulfur mine site, so naturally the resemblance to the nasty-looking streambed down there is striking. What etched away the cement in the gutter? Probably not acid drainage.

geranium2

The white crust is another clue. In our deathly dry conditions it might conceivably have been salt, but it had no taste when I nibbled a fragment of it. It’s probably either gypsum or carbonate; without any chemicals handy I couldn’t learn anything more. But a buildup of crystals like this could gradually disintegrate the cement in the gutter. It may also be seepage from the serpentine exposed along and above Redwood Road here. In sum, very hard water here, but probably not nasty water.

The bedrock is heavily iron-stained and chewed up. Being so near the Hayward fault (it grazes the lower left corner of the map area) surely accounts for that.

geranium3

Some of the households here have worked with it to good effect.

geranium4

A closeup is impressive.

geranium5

This is breccia—pervasively shattered rock—that has been abraded by tectonic shearing so the pieces are rounded, as if you took crushed rock and rubbed it between your hands with a giant’s strength. It’s fairly well cemented, not crumbling apart, so this process happened at some depth.

At the northernmost bend of Geranium, up against the highly cantilevered Redwood Road, the ground is empty and there are monitoring wells of some sort. We have deeply disturbed this area.

The Easton & Wilson Quarry

6 March 2014

The Head-Royce School occupies a lovely secluded site next to Lincoln Avenue. Naturally, it was once a quarry.

headroycequarry1

Not just any quarry, although its product was ordinary: crushed rock of indifferent quality. It was the quarry for Easton & Wilson, a paving and construction company founded in the late 1890s by Kimball G. Easton and Arthur R. Wilson. (Wilson also partnered with Easton’s brother Stanley in the Leona Heights Quarry.) In approximately 1905, the business was liquidated by transferring its assets to a new venture by Easton and his brother-in-law Warren Porter named Granite Rock Company. The firm is still in business today as Graniterock, which operates a large quarry on the San Andreas fault in Aromas, near San Juan Bautista.

The rock here was described by the state bureau of mines as “a blue metamorphosed sandstone” mixed with softer sandstone and shale that created a lot of waste. It is right at the edge of the Piedmont block of Franciscan sandstone, a district I described in more detail as the Oakmore block. Near the upper end of the school property, the rock walls are still exposed, as seen from Lincoln Avenue.

headroycequarry2

Stone magazine reported in 1900 that Easton & Wilson was sued to stop from opening a quarry on Fruitvale Avenue, on the grounds that the blasting would “addle the eggs in the chicken ranches, which form the leading industry in the neighborhood.”

Apparently this ground sat for 60 years after the quarry closed. The Head-Royce School relocated to the property in 1964. The MacArthur Metro gave more details about the school’s history in 2013.

Lower Colton

31 January 2014

You may think of Snake Road as the ridge road that climbs the crest between Thornhill and Shepherd canyons, but it’s really Colton Boulevard. For a quiet hike above Montclair with views, you want Colton. Its lower part runs north of Snake across ground underlain by the Redwood Canyon Formation. Here’s a roadside outcrop.

colton-Kr

I didn’t even notice the parallel fractures until I opened the photo at home. They probably represent a bit of extra cementation, thanks to a late pulse of fluids, but they may also be original bedding.

I mentioned views. If you loop around Mendoza and Mazuela Drives you can view some immaculate houses and grounds, but I like the big empty lot on Mazuela that overlooks Pinehaven canyon; click it for the bigger version.

mazuelaview450


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