Even though they are sandwiched between two thin layers of quartz, I know I am walking on quartz crystals. Perhaps it was the power of the crystals that commanded me to lay a pathway of quartz rock next to a large granite outcropping in my backyard. More than likely, it was just the eccentricity of the old man in me that became enamored with the formation of these quartz crystals.
Each Quartz Paver Has Quartz Crystals Inside
When I first saw the quartz crystals sparkling in the sun, I thought it would be easy enough to extract them for jewelry. Unfortunately, the crystals don’t easily yield to the hand like a pearl in an oyster. What did strike me as interesting was the flat nature of these rocks with catacombs of crystals inside. How in the heck were these sparkling gifts of nature formed in what looked like a sandwich?
Abundant Quartz Crystal, Big and Small
I am not a geologist, but I can observe nature. What I saw were intrusions, seams, or veins of quartz between huge monoliths of granite. I don’t know if the granite split eons ago or if the space between the granite boulders was already present. Regardless, it appears that molten quartz intruded and filled the gaps, creating what looks like seams between the granite.
Gold is found in quartz. Gold miners of the 19th century in California would excavate small seams of quartz in search of a larger ledge that might contain gold. I have never found any gold in these quartz seams, but I may have been blinded by the sparkling crystals.
The spaces between the granite boulders are relatively smooth. When the quartz mixer intruded, cooled, and eventually creating these rocks, the result are stones that are relatively flat and smooth. The part I do not understand is how the crystals formed. One theory is that the spaces between the granite filled with silica-rich solution that was very hot. The crystals precipitated or grew in this watery solution, similar to growing sugar crystals or rock candy out of solution of hot water saturated with sugar.
Relatively Flat and Smooth, the Seams of Quartz Rock Make a Nice Path
Initially, I wanted to display all the quartz seam samples so you could easily see the jumbled crystal growth between the outer layers of quartz. However, the outside of these small flat quartz rocks is almost as interesting with variety of different colors, striations, and textures as the inside. Some of the quartz has an almost translucent amber color. As far as I can discern, virtually every one of the quartz rocks harbors either crystals or crystalline structure of opaque quartz: silicon dioxide.
As a collector of stuff that strikes my fancy – clocks, coins, books, maps – there comes a time when collected stuff needs to submit to functionality, as opposed to just another dust collector. While the quartz crystal was formed vertically, they seem suited for a horizontal orientation as a paver or stepping stone. With an outcropping of granite in the backyard, the quartz stones seemed to gravitated to its’ rock relative.
My installation of the quartz pavers is not perfect, but the rocks themselves are not exactly uniform. The found quartz pavers have a thickness of .5 to 1.5 inches. I scraped a couple inches of soil from an existing path. I then laid the quartz pavers on the bare dirt generally in a lengthwise direction of the pathway. Occasionally, I had to dig out some granite rock so the pavers would lay flat. Sometimes I would have to dig out a little dirt to accommodate some bulging part of the quartz paver stone.
After they were laid down, I swept some of the excavated soil into the spaces between the pavers. If there was big gap between the pavers, I would insert a smaller quartz rock. After it rained, there was some settling and low spots. I adjusted some of the paver by either slightly lowering some or raising others. Again, it is not some sort of professional paver installation. It is a path like you might encounter in nature, with a little help from a guy who likes to bring some order to chaos.
However, I like the randomness of the lack of a pattern, it’s nature. The pathway is most dramatic when the surrounding soil is wet and dark. The lighter colored quartz is most notable with the contrasting dark soil. I am sure during the summer, when everything is dry, it will all be a light brown color next to the gray of the granite.
This blog post and photos will eventually disintegrate and disappear from anyone’s internet search. The quartz pavers will remain. One day a child will walk up the path, curiosity peaked by little sparkles from the ground, and they will wonder, “Who laid this pathway of flat stones with little sparkles?” That will be my legacy.