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Texas Memorial Museum, Texas Natural Science Center

Science Live! @ the Museum
: Beachcombing in Austin? - Live Webcast: May 21, 2004

Transcript for Field Outing - Texas Quarries:

Dr. Ann Molineux, NPL Collections Manager: My name's Ann Molineux and I'm from the Texas Memorial Museum.

Robert Copeland: Ann, I'm Robert Copeland. I'm the, Production Manager for Texas Quarries. We're located right now at the Armadillo Quarry, which is where our process began.

Dr. Molineux: Mr. Copeland's going to show us some very interesting things today. We're going to see how rocks are milled; we're going to see where they come from. Because we've already seen what's in them, we know what the animals were. Now we're going to find out how we make use of them today.

Mr. Copeland: It is the best business in Austin as far as uniqueness and a very rich history that goes along with it.

Dr. Molineux: Well, I think we benefit a lot from what your quarry does.  And we're very lucky to be able to come here today.

Mr. Copeland: I, I do want to correct you, though, right here in front of everybody.  It's not rock, it's stone.

Dr. Molineux: Oh dear, now I'm always getting into trouble for this.

Mr. Copeland: Well, a stone is a precious material, and when you have spent as much time with it as we have, it becomes very precious. A rock, you can find it anywhere just beside the road.

Dr. Molineux: So I stand corrected.

Armadillo Quarry: (Quarrying of limestone)

Mr. Copeland: What we're seeing here is our, what we call our Cordova Shell that has all of the shell inclusions on it. You can see from the top foot and a half or two foot of material that's, was our Cordova Cream. Over the eons of time that has passed, that has been eroded away and so the shell is on, close to the surface. So when we're quarrying and we just want to come after Cordova Shell we, we come into this area and, and quarry the Shell.

Now, the Shell is still in place at the other site that we looked at underneath the Cream. But we're primarily after the Cream in that area.

Dr. Molineux: Can you see these impressions here?  These are the impressions of the Cordova clam that's called Trigonia. And that's what makes the face of the stone look so beautiful because we have all these ridges where the shell left its impression. There's no shell left in there now because that's been eroded away.

But is sat there long enough that the mud hardened around the protrusions on the outside of the shell, and left you with this beautiful pattern that really makes this stone so wonderful.

Hi, well, now we're at the next step.  First, we saw where all the organisms were, and how beautiful those rocks looked. Now, we're going to look and see what we do with those wonderful marine creatures.

Now, today; how we build with them and make stone stairs and steps and tables. So, why don't you join me and let's go and investigate and see what's inside this wonderful mill.

Texas Quarries: (Scenes of limestone being cut)

Mr. Copeland: Everything that, that we do as far as throughout the mill is a custom, it's a custom job. The architect has made up a set of architectural drawings, and we have bid the job off of those architectural drawings.

Then, once we have the job, we make up what we call our shop drawings; which is taking the architectural's drawings, and his details and everything, and identifying each individual piece of stone that is on, on the project.

Texas Quarries: (Scenes of limestone being cut, hoisted and carved)

Dr. Molineux: Now, we've come to the end of our day. And the stone, that's on the way to being part of a new building. And we want to say thank you very much indeed to Robert Copeland and his wonderful help and to Texas Quarries for allowing us to come.

Mr. Copeland: Thanks for coming out and enjoying Texas Quarries.  And as we said, it's very unique and there's nothing like it.

Dr. Molineux: Now, we've got back from our great day on a Cretaceous beach.  And we've seen how that beach material became rock, and now it's become stone. And it's been taken off to build some of the most beautiful buildings in Texas.

One of those buildings is right behind me.  This is the Texas Memorial Museum and if you look at the walls beside the doorway, you'll see that the stone is packed with those marvelous creatures that we saw on our Cretaceous beach.

If you look closely here, you can see these funny little blobs that are in line. Those are what we call Stein curns of the inside of the snails that we saw out at the quarry.  Look at the curved shells.

These are all impressions of that clam we talked about earlier called Trigonia. And sometimes if you look at these rocks at a different angle this, the examples that we've been talking about will look different.

For instance, if you look at these snails, they look like round, coiled centers instead of these elongated pointy collections. What we've done is we've cut through the snail.  The snail was coiled in one direction. And on this side we were seeing it lying down.  And on this side, we're chopped right across it, so it looks different. So that sometimes you can look at rock, and you have to learn how to recognize fossils at different angles depending on how it's cut.

Now, Mr. Copeland would be annoyed if I called this rock. This, remember, is stone because we're talking about a building. This is a building stone. And what we have here is both the Cordova Shell and the Cordova Cream.  Which is got a little bit weathered. All these black lichens and algae, that comes from being exposed to the air.

In fact, one of the things that we discovered today was that these very stones came from the quarry that we were visiting, the Texas Quarry out in Cedar Park. But it came in 1936. That's a long time ago. And between the years of about 1936 and 1939, this building was built from cut stones from the quarry that you were in today.

So, when you're around Austin or on the University of Texas campus, keep your eyes open and see if you can see anymore of the wonderful Cordova Shell, full of its clams and its snails, or the Cordova Cream, full of its evidence of beaches.

Science Live! is funded by a grant from UTOPIA.

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