Thursday, March 8, 2012

Becky's Found Flint

Yesterday's sunshine found Becky sitting on a stone wall under the huge cherry tree.  She saw this stone nearly buried in the litter close to the edge of the wall recently built by us. Not the usual stone, this one deserved closer inspection.  Some of the edges of this stone are as sharp as a knife edge.  Other surfaces are soft and porous.  We believe that the hard gray area of this stone is flint.  We would like to know how the stone was formed.

There is evidence that Native Americans lived on land very close to our present home.  We can almost see the vee shaped stone structure that still spans the river and was thought to concentrate the migrating fish, eels, shad or salmon, making harvest of this natural food  source easier.  A flint factory appears to have existed a short distance downstream of the eel weir.  I have spoken to a man that grew up on this farm.  He describes finding primitive stone points here in great quantities.  Our land overlooks the river and is largely glacial gravel deposits. The fertile part of the farm lies below us along the riverside.  Native Americans left no signs of their presence on the land where we live.

Most of the rock here is sedimentary in origin.  Ancient mountains were eroded away and their sediments formed layers thousands of feet thick.  At this depth, heat and pressure liquefied mineral matter.  Some of this flowed into voids in the sediments where it hardened. Flint is quartz and quartz is composed of silicon and oxygen.  Glass is manufactured from silicon sands.  This flint does have a glassy appearance and it breaks to a sharp edge.  I have tried to understand the science describing the formation of the earth's crust but it is conjecture, complicated and contradictory.  Identification of the myriad of brightly colored stones found here remains impossible for us.  This piece of flint is one of the easy ones.

We tend to pick up stones that catch our eye.  Most wind up in the small voids in the tops of our walls. A visiting child spotted a piece of flint while he was walking the top of one of our walls.  He wanted to take the flint home with him.  I felt that its sharp edges were too dangerous to place in the hands of a child.  A small stone bearing a really well defined shell fossil was exchanged for the flint but the child felt that he had gotten the poorer end of the deal.  I can see his point.  He was allowed to walk the top of a wall several feet high.  If he had the skill to accomplish that dangerous feat he certainly could have safely handled a sharp piece of stone.  Disappointment is usually temporary.  If he was really interested in a piece of flint, I'm sure he has found a piece of his own by now.

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