Archive for May, 2012

Another appearance of the Morton Gneiss

25 May 2012

Not long after I documented the tombstone at Mountain View Cemetery made of the extremely old Morton Gneiss, I spotted the same stone—four polished disks of it—flanking the entryway of a house in the Grandview neighborhood.

morton gneiss

This stuff is certainly a gift to the world. And yet just today I bent down by someone’s fence to caress a boulder of our own red chert, equally striking in its own way.


Slate on the water

19 May 2012

Lately the city has been fixing up the walks along the waterfront, and they’re well worth a visit. This splendid boulder of slate isn’t on the newest part of the trail—it’s at the foot of Alice Street, just where the Jack London Waterfront leaves off and the Alice Street Mini-Park starts.

slate boulder

I don’t know where they get stones like this; they aren’t from Oakland or even from the Bay area. That’s OK.

Serpentine Prairie sanctuary

15 May 2012

Serpentine Prairie is looking good these days. With a large portion of the land fenced off from dogs and people, and with the exotic trees removed, this strange ground is healing.

serpentine prairie

See the boulders romping in their new space.

The hills of Mountain View

5 May 2012

A few years ago in this space I called Mountain View Cemetery “a manicured showcase of the lower Oakland hills.” While you’re visiting the dead, it is pleasant to lift your eyes to the hills and consider the living world.

cemetery hills

The cemetery’s ground reflects its variety of bedrock geology, as shown on the geologic map.

mountain view geologic map

The entrance area is young stream fill with a fringe of higher, older Pleistocene alluvium (Qpaf), then going outward and upward we have the Franciscan sandstone (Kfn) and then Franciscan melange (dark blue) with large enclaves of greenstone, or altered basalt (fg), and chert (fc) making up the highest hilltops. Their elevation corresponds with their resistance to erosion.

The result of this progression of materials is a concave hillslope, or a tilted natural amphitheater. And not only does that present clear sightlines to a range of landforms at a variety of distances, but the mountains of the Berkeley Hills also function as borrowed scenery beyond. All that is hard to gather into one photo, but we are all welcome to try.

“Mountain View” really should be spelled with two spaces between the words. The place is not just a view of mountains—although it is, to the east and across the bay to more mountains—it’s a mountain of views. Mountains and views. And Oakland has other examples all along its uplands.