Obsidian, Flower and Tiny Tree

The big obsidian flows at Newberry Crater are both recent and wonderous. The sheer hostility of those millions of black razor edges makes the Life that is taking hold seem wildly improbable. Pictured below is obsidian, also known as "volcanic glass." Modern science has revealed that the edges can be sharper than modern medical scalpels, lending truth to the archaeological finding that ancient people like the Aztecs used obsidian scalpels to perform amazing surgeries. Another amazing thing about the Newberry obsidian fields is that early in the U.S. astronaut program, you would have seen space-suited astronauts clambering over the rocks, in training for the moon!

Below are remarkable examples of Life in the midst of the desolation of the Big Obsidian Flow near Paulina Lake. First is a tiny, foot-tall lodgepole pine. The penstemon flowers in the picture below that thrive in a niche characterized by great heat, dryness and intense solar radiation. My infared thermometer (IR) measured the rock surface surrounding these flowers at 115 degrees, while the air temperature was just 74 degrees (about 2pm in the afternoon). The ultraviolet level (UVB) was at a very strong 385. (for more on Oregon's UVB, click here).


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Page Last Revised 12/03/2021