--> --> From Stone to Paper and Back Again: Creating Stone Geologic Maps

AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting

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From Stone to Paper and Back Again: Creating Stone Geologic Maps


The process of creating geologic maps has changed considerably since 1809 when William Maclure produced the first geologic map of the United States. They have evolved from beautifully hand-drawn and colored paper maps, to computer generated and interactive maps. However, their origin has always been the same - rocks: finding, analyzing, and sketching their configurations. The resulting maps can be captivating because of the relationships they illustrate, and often beautiful due to the colors and patterns. Because of my geologic background and work in stone inlay, I wanted to come full circle and take the maps back to the stone. I did this by creating geologic maps cut from stone slabs that emulate the colors used in paper maps and adding site specific mineral and fossil specimens. In the last six years I have completed 12 states including five that are in the Rocky Mountain Section of the AAPG: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. Creating geologic maps from stone involves numerous steps and months of work. The process starts with simplifying a detailed geologic map to make a cartoon that ultimately becomes a digital file for a waterjet cutter. Then the stone slabs are carefully chosen for color and texture to represent the key units in the map. Finally, the piece is constructed with meticulous attention to detail. Many clients collaborate in this process by making available their own specimens or providing guidance on favorite stones or colors. Process photos and a time-lapse video help explain the methods involved, and for reference the Wyoming geologic map will be on display at the Section Meeting in Cheyenne.