Geojournal Week 05: Never Metamorphic a rock I didn’t like

This week, we’re to find some metamorphic rock used in construction, and write about that.

My first thought, as I’m sure most people is, is to look into slate. We don’t have as much around here in Colorado, as far as I’ve been able to tell. I’ve known slate was used in building, even before this week’s reading, but it occured to me that I’ve never really though about how slate is prepared. I’ve seen marble being carved, but there’s no way they could get something like a chalkboard without a ton of effort, right? So I headed to Youtube, to see if I could find some video on how it’s made. The first one I found dealt with a Welsh slate quarry filmed in 1964.

The assertion that the quarries would be worked the exact same way in 100 years seemed bold to me, so I looked for a more modern video. This one I found was shot in 2010, so fifty years or so. And while the audio has a bit to be desired, we can see a lot more of the process.

At the end of this second video, we hear the manager talking about blasting a new chunk of rock out. While I’m sure they use electric detonators instead of a match and fuse, I’m sure the majority of the work is done in the exact same way.

One thing that caught my interest was shown in both of these videos was the splitting of slate. In both cases, a man with a hammer and chisel was giving the slate a tap and it split into thin sheets. I guess not only is it possible to get a chalkboard with this method, it’s dead simple. I knew slate liked to split like that, but that’s not the same as watching someone effortlessly measure a rough width, and create a full plane in a single smack. I think it might have actually taken longer to make that cut in 3D modelling software than in real life.

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