Monday, May 14, 2012

Leizengon Structure or, How I Spent Monday Morning

That is the term I was trying to remember the other day when I took the photo below, over in Bankhead.  The photo above was taken in Arkansas and is an example along a nature trail with a sign right in front of it, so I am pretty sure that is Leizengon Structure, which, according to the sign, is simply what happens over many years as the sandstone wears away and veins of much-harder iron are left behind.  I would have named it Iron Vein.  Well.  Really, I would have named it 'Fabulousestherosis Rock', so I can't really blame Leizengon for anything other than having a really hard name to spell.  Or maybe it's not named after anyone...

Is the above a Leizengon Structure?  It's not veiny, so I am not sure.  I am not so great with rocks, at the risk of sounding horribly prejudiced, they all kind of look the same to me.

I did more research in which I could only find references and photos of the SAME dang rock and sign I had taken a picture of.  I found this article in the January 2012 T Town Rock Hound newsletter:

The Leizengon Obfuscation: Scott Robb, TRMS
Sometimes geology takes on characteristics of pornography. In this case, the problem of defining something that you will know whenever you see it. Petit Jean Park, in Arkansas, seems an unlikely place for this to happen, but once again reality has defied probability.
Much like Plato and Atlantis, Petit Jean proudly displays two geology exhibits which seem to only refer back to themselves, as do all other Google search results mentioning them, the infamous Leizengon Structures. Signs at each exhibit proudly show pictures, announce the name and provide mutually
supporting, detailed conjectures as to how they happen to exist.
While the signs are nicely done, they claim that water seepage has allowed iron to organize itself into something akin to broken Dairy Queen chocolate crusts, covering humongous, intersecting sedimentary blobs of soft serve ice cream. Possibly all dropped off of some missing 8-gallon metamorphic waffle cones? Once organized the iron apparently began a resistance movement to frustrate the forces of erosion. Plausible, but if true why not name it something meaningful, like “giant frothy iron bubbles”? Why hide behind “Leizengon”?
Extensive research took fifteen minutes to guess that “Leizengon” may derive from some German or Dutch terminology or name, an obvious ploy to entrap further searching in the dreaded morass of Germanic compound noun formation. Babelfish finally coughed up that “lei” translates from Dutch to “slate” in English. “Zen” and “gon” remained unchanged, evidently with some undisclosed meaning common to all languages.
Looking back, it seems probable that the Park founders were involved in a discussion similar to this:
“It‟s kind of neat and you don‟t see it a lot anyplace else, maybe we could use it as a park attraction?”
“Sure, but we'd have to call it something unique.”
“What about "big iron bubble froth‟?”
“Would you drive out of your way to see "bubble froth‟ or buy a postcard with a picture of it?”
“We need a name that sounds authoritative but is short on actual meaning, like "political responsibility‟.”
“My kid got a new game called The Nine Gozel of the War Dogs. If you mix the letters, we get "Leizengon‟. People will think it's something official that Werner coined.”
“Okay, but what do we say it is?”
“Just say its "iron bubble froth‟ but use petrologic terminology to do it. If you take more than two sentences to describe what happened, people will recite it as fact.”
Speculation of this sort leads to further curiosity about whether or not they came up with the name and signs then built the geology to prove everything was true. The magnitude of the possible deception can give a person sleepless nights and a quavering uncertainty about the stability of roads running up to the exhibits. Better to adopt an accepting philosophy. All in all, the signs and exhibits are well done and seem quite durable, in fact rather massive. I would have no qualms about sending Leizengon postcards to announce the superb vistas and unique features enjoyed on my trip there, but failed to acquire any.

Scott seems like someone I would get along with, really well, despite the fact that he knows about different rocks and I am barely able to decide if something is concrete or natural and have made Matt sigh more than once by telling the kids a chunk of concrete in a creek is a conglomerate.  Which, I want to point out here, by definition it IS...just...not the actual sedimentary rock kind which apparently happens naturally and not in a truck.  So, while Scott used a word I had to look up (petrologic which has nothing to do with British gas or logic, but is the study of the origin of rocks) over-all, his write-up eased my mind.  It's okay that I can't tell if the photo at Bankhead is Leizengon or not.  Only the founders of Petit Jean know for sure.

I will call the Bankhead rock type...chippy.