Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Florida rock


Florida rock, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.

Geology in Southwest Florida is simple; our rocks are mostly one type. Below our soil and sand lies sedimentary limestone, composed of calcium carbonate from the remains of billions of marine invertebrates from an ancient sea. Florida has so many different types of limestone that they’ve identified and named the different areas; take a look at this geologic map of South Florida from the USGS (United States Geological Survey).

This rock is from my garden, imbedded with pieces of fossilized shell and coral and overgrown with algae. Normally limestone is white or off-white, but this rock has been in a moist and shady environment for quite a while and has taken on many shades and ranges of grays. It seems that most of the shells are bivalves, but there is a bit of repeating coral pattern here and there. This limestone has a rough texture, not pleasing to handle, but full of fascinating discoveries.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with rocks: picking them up, wondering over their origins and travels. They seem to possess a slumbering consciousness – they are a connection to the dust we sprang from, a talisman of timelessness. This one, especially, is a reminder of the shallow seas that covered the bottom third of Florida 325,000 to 650,000 years ago.

I painted this rock on a stormy Sunday afternoon, when the outlying moisture-rich clouds of Tropical Depression Bonnie passed over us. I scanned it in stages to document each phase, from loose washes to tighter details: click here to see the progress. The final product came out a bit darker than I planned, but I think you can still see the different pieces of fossil shells, and get a feeling of my connection to it.

You can also click on the image above to view it larger on my Flickr photostream.