Tuesday, July 29, 2014

California Dreaming

© 2014 D.M.B.
The aptly named "Rock,"
of Morro Bay.
So the wife and I decided to take a break from the heat over the 4th of July weekend, and make a break for the coast! We had a great time exploring the California coast from Santa Barbara to Jade Cove in Big Sur. We particularly enjoyed the town of Morro Bay on the 4th, as well as the myriad of beaches we explored.

This is a selection of some of the pieces we found on the beaches of the area ad a little about them.

© 2014 D.M.B.
Jalama Beach
This beach was the busiest we visited on our trip to the coast. We arrived at around midday and the rangers were only letting cars in when someone would leave. Even though it sounds like it was packed there was still plenty of room to move once you get away from the beach directly in front of the parking area. Just a note about beaches in this area: There are tar seeps off the coast (hence the oil rigs) and blobs of tar wash up on the beach. Avoid these, they are a pain to clean off. Most of the rocks we spotted were along the high tide mark up near the cliffs. 

Black agate
This piece is entirely black agate, but most of the pieces laying around were banded with white stripes. Haven't cut this piece yet but the black agates on this beach are notorious for being included with petroleum. A smaller piece that I did cut, was black with almost no depth, there was a faint smell of petroleum when cutting though. 

© 2014 D.M.B.
Along this beach at the bottom of the cliffs, occasionally we would run across pieces of limestone with holes. Turns out, these holes were burrows. Some had impressions of the ex-inhabitant, while some of the holes were still filled with the shells of the long deceased marine life. I got lucky and found these entirely weathered out of the rock. They are a matching pair. I am not really sure whether to call these fossils though, they are the actual shells of these creatures, there was no mineral replacement.

These are the 2 best fish fossils we collected. We didn't spend much time looking for these though (sadly. maybe next time). These are found in the sandstone and limestone eroding out of the cliffs and onto the beach. Collecting should not be attempted directly on any of the cliff faces, rangers probably wouldn't like that. There is however plenty of material laying around the bases of the cliffs though. It was easy work as well, taking just a few simple taps on the edge of the stones and they split nicely.

© 2014 D.M.B.
Willow Creek Beach
About a mile or so south of Jade Cove in Big Sur is this gem of a beach. Most of the popular jade collecting beaches in the area require quite a hike to get down to, but Willow Creek has a small parking lot down near the beach. Considering we were hoping to find some jade, not having to hike back up a dangerous and winding trail weighed down with loot sounded much less like "work," we were on vacation after all. The waters of Willow Creek peter out a few hundred yards from the beach, but they no doubt meet the sea just under the surface. 

© 2014 D.M.B.

Looking North along the beach we spotted the familiar arched forms of the species, rockhound, at play. Their mark was obvious. Even from a distance the green of the serpentine and where it was eroding out of the cliffs quite apparent. Now, serpentine is not the key collectible here, jade is, and it seems that it is found amongst the serpentine. The action of the surf does most of the work here, rolling the rocks around and making them generally presentable.

Water crashing around rather large serpentine boulder.
Here are a few of the pieces of jade we found.

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