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    Northwest Geology Field Trips, by Dave Tucker, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 United States License. You can use what you find here, repost it with attribution to the author, "remix" it for your own purposes, but may not use it with the intent of making money off of it.

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Urbanite is everywhere

Dear friends,

Over the past few years, “fake” has become a much-used term. So, time to apply it to rocks. Make that “rocks”, as in “urbanite”. No, not those folks. I am referring to artificial, rock-like materials- concrete, asphalt. And now, plastics. I discuss it quite a bit in Chapter 14 of Geology Underfoot in Western Washington.

Though you may not be getting out and around much these days, go for a stroll and take photos of some good examples and send them to me at dtchico@gmail.com copy.

I will put them up on a thread below, and let you know when I do. Photos will be credited to you, unless you instruct me otherwise. Tell me where the urbanite is, if it fooled you or seemed particularly ingenious, and how it is used.

Blvd park urbanite 2 marked

The shape, and the fact that there are two of these things the same size and shape (no, not the one in the red jacket- look behind him!) but with slightly different exterior molding was a give away. Not to mention the padlocks and the access plate at the bottom…

Here’s an example I came across in Bellingham the other day. This is at the railroad crossing at the entrance to Boulevard Park. It is some sort of thin, molded plastic or fiberglass. I could tell right away it was fake because of its usage and overall appearance. Was the manufacturer trying to mimic a particular type of rock? The pale gray  blockiness right away was reminiscent of granodiorite.

Blvd Park urbanite 1 marked

Zoom in on the photo to see there are even a few pale fake intrusions, with a finer ‘grain’ size. As if a blob of different magma was trapped in the host ‘rock’.

Hmm, how about the texture, that is the close up appearance and relationship between any fake components meant to resemble ‘minerals’ or ‘clasts’? Not bad. Right up close there are even two colors of ‘minerals’, black and white. As in white plagioclase and dark biotite mica, kinda sorta like the real thing. So, final verdict: up close, not bad. But from away- meh.

Highline Com Coll Erratic  (3) mark

Here is a granodiorite erratic at Highline Community College. Go to the link to read about this rock and that distinctive white linear structure. Bud Hardwick photo.

3 Responses

  1. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that this article on “Urbanite” was for April Fool’s Day! But having seen a lot of ersatz stone, cast from concrete or other materials, I believe you! What’s the old saying? “Imitation is the biggest (sincerest) form of flattery.”

    • Kristina,
      It IS for April Fool’s day. Just a day late is all. I am still recovering from yesterday’s pranks- which continued into this morning. Pulled on me by the young feller in the picture.

  2. Laughter is the best medicine! (but I’m not sick, that I know of!) Thanks for a gentle dose, Dave.

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