Science

A New Yorker in New Mexico: Seeing Red, A Photo Essay

The first time I ever saw red rocks was in 2006 when I traveled to Las Vegas and visited Red Rock Canyon. I was in Vegas to see the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, commemorating the 40th anniversary.  Other than the Experience, I found Vegas to be largely tasteless and mind-numbing. Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam provided a relief from the smoke-filled overstimulated atmosphere. Red Rock Canyon really made an impression as did the areas outside of the city. It was the first time I had ever experienced the desert and the kind of silence and stillness it offers.

The following year, in 2007, was when I first visited New Mexico. I immediately fell in love! I can recall driving from the Albuquerque Sunport to my hotel in Bernalillo with my eye constantly being drawn to the Sandia Mountains (which still happens). On the third day of that trip, I explored the Jemez Mountain trail and it was here that I first saw New Mexican red rocks. They are nothing short of spectacular. The color is shockingly beautiful. On my third trip in 2018, I saw even more New Mexican red rocks, most notably on my drive to the Ghost Ranch. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the desert varies around the state. I found this to be also true, visually, of the New Mexican red rocks. I did a little research to find out why.

A disclaimer: I am an artist and not a scientist. However, I have a layperson’s interest in science and have done my best to preset reliable information in this blog entry. What I am doing here is trying to get answers to my own observations while presenting artistic photographs. Art and science can co-exist. If you don’t think so, please read this article on Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Back to the New Mexican red rocks!

According to the Earth Science Club of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology the Earth is made mainly of rocks arranged in three concentric layers. The Earth’s crust contains the rocks we see at the surface. Most rocks are a collection of one or more minerals, but some contain noncrystalline inorganic material (like obsidian) or organic material (such as coal). The ultimate origin of all rocks in the Earth’s crust is the mantle (magma or lava), space (meteorites), or organisms such as plants and animals (organic matter).

According this publication by the NMT Earth Science Club, it notes that the red rocks I saw on the Jemez Trail / Route 4, are rhyolite, an igneous-volcanic type of rock. Interestingly, rhyolite will commonly scratch a knife or hammer. While the red rocks I saw around Abiquiú are sandstone a clastic sedimentary rock composed primarily of quartz grains that may be stained red, brown, pink, or yellow from iron oxides.

I love red rocks and seeing them on a grand scale is an experience I recommend.  I think, in part, I love New Mexican red rocks because they remind me of classic New York red bricks. I hope my pictures properly capture these gorgeous colors of nature.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

edwinroman.com

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