Ohio’s Mystery Rocks

Forgive me, but I must start by sharing a song I couldn’t stop singing to my wife’s embarrassment as we hiked, searching for spherical geological wonders. It goes like this…

“I believe in sphericals
Where you from,
You sexy thing.”

*miracles

As in the song, You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate

The optimism from the funky ‘70s song must have put good mojo into the universe because we went from disappointment to a garden of perfectly rounded stones.

Anyway, these miracle/spherical rocks look like they could be dinosaur eggs. Some mistake them for cannonballs or meteorites. Others imagine stone-chiseled Death Stars crashing into Earth.

But these mystery rocks are over 300 million years in the making.

What caused these geologic irregularities to take on such spherical forms, often in perfect balls (“Where you from, you sexy thing”)?

Like an egg, the peculiar rocks had an organic nucleus. Nobody is certain, but the prevailing theory is this. When sea creatures (preceding dinosaurs, by the way) from the Devonian Period died, they had sunk to the seafloor. At the time, Ohio was covered by the sea. Minerals cemented to it layer after layer filling in the porous surface. The forming rock may have slowly rolled from time to time along the ocean floor, smoothing it as it grew, becoming what is now termed – concretion.

When Ohio shale beds erode, concretions protrude from cliffsides and creek beds. These phenomena are in scenic clusters at Highbanks Metro Park just north of Columbus. Imagine the layers of shale as pages of a book. Then imagine placing a rock in the middle of the book and compressing it. The pages warp around the rock. This is how the eroding shale beds look when a concretion surfaces again. The contrast is astounding. Such geological time capsules may or may not have a fossil at the center. Usually, anything organic at the core likely dissolved, leaving a void.

Explore Dripping Rock Trail from the nature center at 9466 Columbus Pike in Lewis Center, Ohio. The hike ascends high cliffs. Follow the woodpecker trail markers for a time. When the trail comes to a “T,” go left over a footbridge. A map there shows a dotted hiking trail to pick up on the other side of the bridge. The hiking trail isn’t marked, so trust where you may see evidence of a dirt trailhead that’ll snake back to hug the creek bed. Follow the creek until concretions make themselves known. If the water is high, many of them may remain hidden.

Enjoy the hunt for Ohio’s mystery stones. Or enjoy this song by Hot Chocolate.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun!

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