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Catalina Island Conservancy

photo gallery

Photos by Carlos de la Rosa Chief Conservation and Education Officer Catalina Island Conservancy

November 2008

Nature's Art: Catalina's Fabulous Rocks and Minerals

Catalina has a rich and complicated geological history. Not only has it been an island for hundreds of thousands of years, but over this time, it has been exposed to volcanic activity like earthquakes and massive uplifting, and to changing sea levels following major climate changes across the millennia.

What we are left with is an incredible variety of exposed minerals and rocks, all telling a different part of the story. On Catalina, we see ribbon rocks looking as if they had been painted on sides of steep cliffs; emerald-like deposits that shimmer in the sunlight; precious and not-so-precious metals that fueled dreams of wealth in the mid 1920s; blinding-white hard quartz crystals; and soft, useful steatite or soapstone, that made an ancient Island industry possible. They all have formed a beautiful quilt of rock, minerals and stones for us to marvel over and to enjoy.

Plants have thrived for centuries on the dissolved nutrients that are exposed by the decomposition and mix of minerals. And animals, and humans, too, participate in these processes in sometimes unique and unexpected ways.

Explore with us the inanimate diversity of Catalina Island's rocks and minerals and their connections with us and our surrounding living world. Click here for the photo gallery.