What I Learned Today… rocks in a hard place

California’s state rock is serpentine.

There seems to be a state symbol for everything . I’m not really sure of the history of assigning creatures (including mammals, birdsreptiles, fish, and insects), flora (including trees, flowers and grass), colors, minerals and other seemingly random objects to our regions. California has developed or proclaimed 35 symbols representing its vast history, culture and land.

In 1965, California became the first state in the union to name an official state rock. Pretty cool, but odd. serpentine has a beautiful olive-green coloring with a sort of waxy or greasy feeling. And due to California’s location along to major tectonic plates, serpentine is prevalent as a result of the stresses caused from the two plates colliding.

According to this recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization began a campaign called “Drop the Rock” in 2008  to remove serpentine’s status as state rock since it contains the toxin, asbestos. But geologists and others are stepping up to the plate (pun intended) to keep this rock’s reputation and integrity.

I am not a geologist or scientist of any sort, but even if serpentine contains cancer-causing agents, that fact should not change its place as our state symbol. The historical and scientific value does not change. If we are going to proclaim and renege random symbols then the next time a grizzly bear mauls a person, we should offer the position to the endangered giant kangaroo rat.

Photo source: Geohiking


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