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20 May, 2008

Basalt of the Earth

I live on the Ring of Fire. Huge volcanoes rising where Pacific and continental plates hit, rending the surface and allowing earths innards to barf forth.

Ahhh...plate tectonics. When my dad was a kid, they didn't have this theory. When I was a kid, an excerpt about plate tectonics was part of just about every standardized test I ever took. Whoever wrote these tests--unless they were a stealth agent of the American Geophysical Society--had no interest in me learning plate tectonics. But being of a rambling mindset, I took time out during the Standard Achievement Test, the PSAT and SAT, and probably even the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test, required in Virginia in those days) to ponder the grandeur of Gondwana, the puzzle pieces of South America and Africa, the violent Ring of Fire.

Never did finish those tests, but usually did well, and always felt a gratitude toward plate tectonics.
And now I live on the Ring of Fire. Excuse me while I go away for a few minutes and download the song of that name, preferably the Wall of Voodoo version.

So what does this have to do with the photos? Basalt, baby, basalt. I lived on basalt volcanoes in the middle of the Pacific for many years. Makes sense, because the ocean floor is basalt. None of that granite, afraid to wet its feet.

And here in Washington, basalt again. (Maybe that's what made me leave Virginia again. No basalt. Not even any volcanoes. Sand, clay, and quartz. Ho-hum.)

Here the basalt laps up onto a continent. And here there is cold, so we have basalt that cools into cool columns. Hexagons of stone, sheared off now and then to wow the geologically enthralled.

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