Gravel Exudes Mystery Salts

This is one of the more obscure images ever posted on this blog.

IMG_4021gravel480And it’s exact nature is at question. It is a precipitate from crush-and-run gravel that, if located in an outdoor setting in the sun and rain would look like regular gravel.

This was observed in a location under roof of an extensive metal building in which a great deal of farm equipment is housed.

The owner is distraught to find that the entire floor of gravel from a local quarry looks as if it has been strewn with popcorn or crispy cottage cheese or cat puke. It is not a like powdery chalky discoloration of the gravel but is so dense as to totally obscure the rock from view in most places.

I’d guess it’s a calcium salt precipitate and that maybe there is more limestone in this particular gravel source in the county, which I thought was more generally quartz-granite derived.

So help me here, geology and soil chemistry types. Not sure that anything can be done to solve this farmer’s issues with corrosion, but I’d sort of like to better know what’s going on.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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