Travertine Falls

I took Monday of Easter weekend off to go on a geology hike with my coworker Nancy, who was trained as a geologist, and Tyler, who was visiting from Rochester and is also a geologist. It was a good day for it, sunny and sufficiently warm. The site where we went is called Fall’s Ridge and is sort of within sight of my apartment – at least, I think it’s part of the ridge that I can see from my balcony.

Trail sign
Ruined lime kiln

It has some ruins from a lime processing facility, and a whole bunch of rock formations as a result of the surrounding dolostone being dissolved by water and then deposited in new formations called travertine, much the same way as speleothems such as stalactites are formed. Here you can see a little sample that broke off:

Travertine dripstone sample

Nancy and I had a good time photographing the wildflowers.

Wildflowers (Rue Anemone?)
Bellwort (?)

I definitely understood why wedding photographers carry two or more complete cameras around with them – I was swapping lenses just about every other picture, going between photographing little flowers and bits of rock, and the travertine waterfalls.

Nancy with camera

Nancy was pretty occupied behind the camera, but I think these photos of Tyler came out well technically.

Tyler 1
Tyler 2

The three of us had a good time exploring the “caves” in the cliff that you can see blurrily behind Tyler there. There were a lot of really cool little formations all around us, lurking off in the mysterious corners and folds, and I felt a lot like Atrus as he describes the rocks in his journey down to the City. I was really glad that Tyler had been willing to carry my monopod, since I had been intending to leave it at home, but it allowed me to take these photos of different formations in shadowy areas:

Here is a shot looking up the cliff – you can see how it has a weird texture somewhere between rock and an eroded riverbank – since that’s basically what it is!

Travertine cliff

And here you can see how it forms, as the river carries the calcium/magnesium carbonate with it and then gradually precipitates it out onto the existing substrate – including things like logs and leaves!

Travertine forming

We wondered what happens to the organic material once it’s encased in rock, and although we didn’t come to a definitive answer, I did find the imprint of a leaf in a rock that was chipped, and we found part of a log rotting in the middle of a cave wall.

Geologist Tyler investigates the fallen leaves that are already becoming covered in rock:
Tyler investigating

Some wide-angle views of the main falls along the trail.

Falls Ridge waterfall
Tyler + travertine

Nancy was somewhat more cautious about wading into the stream than we were… but eventually joined us in trying to get more closeup views.

Nancy by the falls
Upper falls

If you’re familiar with the Pamukkale terrace formations in Turkey, this is the same kind of rock, just less elegant and more dirt-colored.

It was a nice walk along the trail, with a variety of other things to photograph. Since the trees were just starting to leaf, there was lots more sunshine than there probably is in high summer.

A painted bridge post

We had a good time trying to guess what the plants were, while Tyler tried to put his naturalist knowledge to use, but we weren’t super successful.

Leaf buds

It was a nice relaxing adventure with a little bit of hiking and a lot of geology and photos – good stuff!

2 Responses to “Travertine Falls”

  1. Ariana
    | Reply

    Very cool. It seems like taking pictures of flowers would be therapeutic. I envy you your camera a little bit. ;)

    • ellen
      | Reply

      Yeah, flowers are relaxing to take photos of in some ways. I like to take photos of other things better though, because once I get the flower photos onto the computer, they tend to all look like just that – flower photos. Nothing special, and it doesn’t motivate me much to process and publish them. Apparently it’s more interesting to photograph rocks. ;)

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