Spheroidal Weathering

The landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is dominated by weathering of granite. Granite is a tough rock. Most of the minerals in granite react very slowly with water and there is very little space for water to sneak in-between the tightly locked igneous grains.

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Neat, the dipping sedimentary layers at this spot have been totally overgrown by moss, creating this green alternating effect.


Flounders, stingrays, and other flat, bottom-dwelling fish often hide under sand for protection. These fish move by oscillating their fins or the edge of their bodies. They use a similar mechanism to bury themselves–quickly flapping to resuspend a cloud of particles, then hitting the ground so that the sand settles down to cover them. Researchers have been investigating this process by oscillating rigid and flexible plates and observing the resulting flow. When the flapping motion exceeds a critical velocity, the vortex that forms at the plate’s edge is strong enough to pick up sand particles. Understanding and controlling how and when these vortex motions kick up particles is useful beyond the ocean floor, too. Helicopters are often unable to land safely in sandy environments because of the particles their rotors lift up, and this work could help mitigate that problem. (Image credits: TylersAquariums, source; Richmondreefer, source; A. Sauret, source; research credit: A. Sauret et al.)

This week has been shaking hands, tired
breaths, nervous steps. It’s been attempting
to pick up my life and my wrists fumbling
so hard that I drop it again.

I don’t know what to do with my hands, I
say, and you laugh like it’s a joke, like your
hands have always been such a part of you
(they probably have been) that thinking of
them as a separate entity is amusing
(it probably is).

The other day my friend told me that I’m
a landslide. Two days later and I have never
felt more like one, never felt more like loose
rubble and crumbling soil ready to wash
myself away.

I am staring down the throat of my future
and my hands feel like they’re falling off. 
I don’t know what to do with my hands,
I say, and my wrists are turning into mud
and I just cannot find them anymore.

—  Darshana Suresh, week 7 of 52 - “erosion”

This is a stunning example of wind erosion in Saint Joseph, Michigan. When the conditions are right, the wet beach sand freezes and is eroded away to form miniature versions of much bigger formations like arches, hoodoos, canyons, and balancing rocks. They form much faster, over the course of weeks instead of thousands or millions of years.



Iceland’s Massive Dinosaur Rock

Located in North Iceland, in the Gulf of Húnaflói, stands a massive rock that looks like a grazing dinosaur called Hvítserkur. The spectacular structure is a natural formation on the landscape that adds an intriguing, mystical touch to the surrounding environment. In fact, legend has it that the colossal boulder was once a giant troll seeking to attack a neighboring abbey, but was petrified into a slab of stone when caught in the rising sun.

Whether one believes in folklore or not, it adds to the story of Hvítserkur, which used to be a volcano. The structure is the remains of a 15-meter-high volcano that has almost completely eroded away. Photographers both in and out of Iceland seek to capture shots of the beautiful, monumental rock.

(via My Modern Met)