Sunday Science Photos, May 8 – 14

Another week has passed and another ten science photos have been shared on Instagram. Here they are again for those of you who missed them.

Upper South Silver Falls

Silver Falls State Park is a lesser-known gem of Oregon. The canyons here, carved into miocene flood basalts nearly 600 feet deep by Silver Creek, are dotted with world-class waterfalls which can all be seen along a rather easy 7-mile hiking route. Look below the falls for tree casts burned into the stone.

Rutile on Hematite

I think rutile crystals are remarkably beautiful. This mineral is harvested for use in pigments and to refine titanium metal (rutile is TiO2). Rutile is also occasionally found as an inclusion in quartz, which jewelers enjoy as it can provide a lovely accent to a cut stone.

Invasive Dike

This semi-circle of basalt along the Oregon coast was long misunderstood. Once considered the textbook example of a magmatic dike, it wasn’t until this feature was analyzed that geologists realized that it doesn’t have a local origin, but is part of the Columbia River Basalts. It is now categorized as an invasive dike: extrusive basaltic lava flows which broke through existing sediment layers. They can be found all over the Oregon coast.

Haystack Rock

No landscape photographer’s portfolio is complete without a picture of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon. This chunk of basalt is 235-feet tall and is one of the largest coastal monoliths in the world. It is made of lava flows from the Grande Ronde Columbia River Basalt Group which flowed into the sea from places far to the east between 17 and 15.5 million years ago. It made its Hollywood debut in The Goonies.


Oregon White Oak

I detailed some info on Oregon’s Oak Savannah in this post. Suffice it to day, they’re beautiful trees in a landscape requiring protection.

Mt. Hood & A Field of Flowers

Mount Hood peaks over the hills south of Rowena plateau in the Columbia River Gorge. The flowers are blue cornflower.


Like Radiolarians, diatoms utilize silica as a  protective mechanism making them relatively easily preserved in the fossil record. Unlike radiolaria, however, diatoms are an algae, and produce their own food.

Volcanic Bomb

Ejected violently as molten rock from a vent at Newberry Volcano, this blob of lava cooled in mid-air forming a thick crust before landing. I suspect this rock had a bit more time to cool before impact than some of the best examples of bread-crust bombs as it maintained a fairly spherical shape.

Into the Gorge

This is the view facing east from Crown Point on the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge. In this shot you can see Beacon Rock (the monolith near the center) and evidence of several landslides that have shaped the course of the Columbia River. The distance from camera to the mountains in the distance is less than 20 miles as the crow flies.

Cornus canadensis

Bunchberries are Pacific Northwest natives; members of the dogwood family. The plants usually top out at less than a foot tall but, in spite of their low profile, they garner much attention with their brilliant white flowers. Their red berries are edible but are usually picked over by birds before I ever get a chance to try them.


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