Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

These images were taken on a small headland at the north end of Walk-on Beach here in Sea Ranch.  It was a beautiful day in the late afternoon and the foggy mist was starting to clear.  The fog was heavy in spots which made me focus my camera more inward, towards the unique and ‘other-worldly” rock formations upon which I was standing.  The first image is looking south down the long axis of Walk-on Beach.  The bluffs in this part of Sea
Ranch are composed mostly of shale, which is essentially mud that has been altered by pressure over time from the overlying rocks.  Shale erodes easily and, over time, forms
recesses in the cliffs between the harder sandstone and ultimately forms the cove-like beach seen in the first image.   The headland areas jutting out into the ocean (on which I was standing) at either end of the beach cove is made primarily of much harder and less erodible sandstone, which, essentially, is sand that has been cemented to form stone.

In a few of these images you can also see irregular or ball-shaped protrusions in the weathered surface of the rock.  These ball-shaped protrusions are areas of the sandstone that are more strongly cemented than the area immediately around it, and therefore weather more slowly causing them to protrude from the rest of the sandstone around it.

A predominant feature of these sandstone formations is the pitted and weathered appearance that gives these rocks a prehistoric look befitting their age. The small pits in the rock, called honeycomb weathering, occur in rock formations that are in the splash zone above high tide level.  This portion of the sandstone is exposed to constant drying and wetting from seawater.  As the salt water accumulates and dries in depressions in the sandstone it pries out sand grains as the salt water crystallizes.  The wind takes care of the rest.  Over time the depressions deepen and grow in the sandstone creating the pock-marked appearance shown in this and the preceding images.

Note:  I wish to credit Ted Konigsmark and his Geologic Trips, Sea Ranch (1994) which was used in preparing this write-up.

Equipment:  Nikon D3s,  Nikkor 24 – 70 mm Lens

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