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Geology
  • Tufa Petroglyphs Boulder

    This tufa boulder formed under the waters of a southeast bay of pluvial Lake Lahontan in northwest Nevada.  These deeply carved petroglyphs are undated; the land now desert. This boulder’s location is proximate to the justly famous oldest dated petroglyphs in North America, also carved on tufa. The dated petroglyphs look to the east over Winnemucca Lake located east of Pyramid Lake - both remnant lakes of pluvial Lake Lahontan. The Winnemucca petroglyphs were determined by Larry Benson and associates in 2013 to date to at least 10,500 years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14,800 years ago.


    Tufas, like mineral flowers, emerge, protrude, and fragment as the lake recedes.  Bud, blossom, seed, suspended high and dry.  Tufas congeal in crenate patterns, constellated, crystallized, caverned, calcified froth. The petroglyphs on this boulder appear as emblems of desire, as invocations, perhaps entreating sexual fecundity, necessary replenishment. In these landscapes as marvelous, saturated dream-space, I am reminded of Max Ernst’s frottages and paintings.  
    Tufa Petroglyphs
    Above: Tufa Petroglyph Boulder;  Below: Max Ernst, The Gray Forest 1927

  • ChronoZoning Lake Abert

    Time collapses. This basalt is different. Harder. Darkly brown. Rounded water-smoothed boulders thick with feldspar crystals sparkling in the desert air.  Petroglyphs emerge ghost-like, yearning, dissolve as the light shifts, from 3000 YBP (+/- 2500 years).  Along the eastern shore of Lake Abert.  Along US Highway 395 north to Canada south to California 19th century geographic imaginings. Margins alive. Lichen cattle shrimp avocets bighorn. Saltcrusts fences bones placed stones. Wave cut road cut clay bed tar bed.

    Here the southwest edge the multi-layered Columbia River Flood Basalt Province. Color-coded on puzzled maps. 17-15 millions years Before Present.  Suddenly 8 million years ago the earth stretching west the block fault scarp breaks up as the valley sinks. After the last glacial the basin lake shrinks to a thin shimmer of a ghost of a brimming Pleistocene past.

    Other petroglyphs along Lake Abert carved on sheer-faced boulders cracked tumbled from the upward rims. A finer lighter basalt. Soft gray, dark gray, stony gray.  Petroglyphs recalling the Holocene seasons cycling with life. Peooles on and through this land for 14,000 years.Of and in this earth. Now named for absent Westerners. Deitz. Paisley. Warner. Abert too a ghostly misnomer from Fremont’s 1840s hauntings.

    A very near blurred future-time collides toward this place. Too soon geo-logically: a stark dry slope a dusty valley. Asphalt road bed black cracking tilting sliding into white salt. Trace chemicals congeal to bind the changing times. Patina darkens petroglyphs rock circles stacked walls. Wind carries the sparklings of the longing crystals on through the curve of time.

    More Abert images on Google+



  • Incisings: Blue and Light

    A cobalt blue streaked layer electrifies the warm stone in this sheltered canyon wall.   Uncountable incisings, an "unlimited finity" (Deleuze), evoke a sense of energy, of power.  As occurs often encountering rock art, I turn in surprise and wonder, never having witnessed anything like this. Though certainly not produced for this distant 21st century, the intensity of making, this human endeavor, leaps uncertain boundaries. One, the geologic. Two, performative action. Three, color and light by day, dark behind night. I am pulled sideways. The incisings draw close the vibrating edges of other realms.
    Details:  INCISINGS