Accretionary Wedge #42: Natural History Museum Floor

I am grateful that the topic of this month’s Accretionary Wedge was expanded from just countertops to include any sort of decorative rock, because I grew up in a sadly formica- and linoleum-laden household. Sure, there were nice hardwood floors (once we got rid of the horrible ’70s burnt orange shag carpet), but there was no decorative rock to be had. Goodness knows there are plenty of stone monuments in the greater Washington D.C. area, but I am not going to write about those either. Instead, I’ll be writing about an unassuming floor nearly halfway across the world from where I live now.

I briefly visited London in the summer of 2010, and one of the exceptions I made to my usual short-trip-to-a-city method of wandering around and not actually going into places was the Natural History Museum. I would go into how much I loved this museum, how much I enjoyed the geology exhibits, and into my small complaint that the Kobe earthquake simulator room didn’t shake hard enough that you’d notice it was moving if you weren’t standing completely still yourself, but the prompt is not about our favorite museum exhibits (though that could be a future topic, if it hasn’t been done already), so I digress.

The floor in question is on one of the staircase landings coming down from the geology exhibit. I don’t normally spend time staring at floors, but as someone who studies faults, I guess I have some sort of mental radar that picks up on this sort of thing:

A brochure corner doesn't make for the best scale ever, but that top edge is about an inch and a half long.

I don’t actually know anything about this rock. I assume it’s marble (though I’m the first to admit that rock identification is not my strong suit), but I have no idea where it’s from or how old it is. There are definitely at least two episodes of deformation in here, though: a ductile phase, during which the long tight folds occurred, and a later brittle phase, during which the faults formed and offset the folds.

But anyway, I was both excited to see some faulting in the floor this close to an actual exhibit about faults, and disappointed that the museum didn’t have any sort of sign or suggestion to actually look for this. Though I suppose it could be for the better to not have people staring at the ground while going up and down a staircase…

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