Sunday, May 15, 2022


One of the characteristic aspects of the Mifflin Member of the Platteville Formation is its habit of planar jointing. The faces of outcrops often look like someone took a rock saw to them. Nor are they necessarily single flat planes; sometimes joints intersect to form sharp angles. The heavy thunderstorms the previous week inspired a large chunk of Mifflin outcrop to collapse along intersecting joints.

Tumbled down

The joint planes did not form overnight, which can be seen by the amount of roots and soil in the new outcrop faces. There were some pretty big roots in there as well, but whatever tree(s) had once produced them is long gone.

A view into the wedge more or less along one of the two joints.

This particular rockfall was about as polite as possible, occurring not at the top of a stereotypical 30-foot bluff but from a much lower bluff, adjacent to a bike path. The orientation of the wedged stack shows that it toppled out of its former position. The top of the stack is therefore farthest from the bluff. Perhaps it failed at the base first, due to poor support from the Pecatonica, then flopped over.

History going from left to right

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