I know many readers love hearing about our historical explorations, but lately, I’ve mostly been researching contemporaries. If you receive my newsletters, you know I’ve been to Santa Cruz (above image is sun rising over the Pacific at Santa Cruz's Half Moon Bay–think about it) to research the setting for the Crystal Magic books. I’m currently digging into geology tomes, studying the fascinating science behind the Santa Cruz mountains. I’m not sure any of you want to read about the ancient volcanoes and earthquake faults that make up the California coastline, but rocks fascinate me!
Our local beaches are littered with glittering stones rounded by wave action. We’re south of the Santa Monica range of volcanoes that produced the Channel Islands and our beaches. Magma and lava cooled and hardened into quarzite, granite (which looks just like your counter tops!), slate, pumice, and marble, which we use to decorate our yard. Eons of wave action produced lovely rounded pebbles with streaks of color and crystals.
If you’re still reading and haven’t fallen asleep yet, then I’ll get into the good stuff. Geologists fling around terms like “igneous” and “metamorphic” and “sedimentary.” These simply refer to how a rock was formed. Those names don’t explain what minerals are contained in the forms—and that’s where the fun begins.
Along with the cooling of lava, a variety of conditions create minerals. Heat and pressure from the earth’s core force cooling liquids into crystalline structures. Those unique geometric shapes depend on the minerals in the lava or the liquid that’s being pressurized. Because silica is so abundant in our soil, silicate minerals are the most common. Quartzite, for example, is sandstone that has been pressurized under intense heat and contains one of the purest concentrates of silica in the world. Quartzite is often formed when continents collide—which is essentially what the California San Andreas fault is.
So when my Crystal Magic people start playing with crystals, they are dealing with structures of molecules formed from whatever elements were in the soil at the time they were pressurized and heated. I’d like to play up the California gold rush factor—a part of history that everyone knows. But gold is a different weirdness entirely—it comes from meteorites! Really, would I lie to you?
Diamonds are even more complicated, even if my characters are successful at creating synthetic ones. One thing is probably for certain—diamonds are not generally created from coal. Coal is formed from compressed and heated plant material and is very seldom found as deep as it takes to create sufficient pressure and heat to form diamonds. Again, we get volcanoes, shifting tectonic plates, and meteors providing the impact necessary to form diamond crystals.
Because the California mountains were created by tectonic plate shifts and volcanic activity, they have enough mineral deposits to entertain the most jaded of rock hounds and to keep my characters nicely supplied with any crystals they require. The state gemstone is benitoite –a great vehicle for the powers of my characters, should they decide to dig into it. It’s dichroic hues have been said to allow an interconnectedness with other realms—now how can I not imagine the uses of such a power?
In my Georgian Malcolm and Ives novels, I had to skirt around the scientific basis for the characters’ various “gifts” because science hadn’t developed sufficiently to even explain “molecular structure.” In my almost-Victorian novels (why has no one named the era between George IV and Victoria?), science was making exciting discoveries, so I could play a little more, but they still didn’t have the knowledge of how many things, including our brains, worked. So bringing the characters into the 21st century is an interesting turn-about. Now the “witchy” parts of their gifts are suspect as New Age silliness, and they go out of their way to find scientific explanations, even the most gifted of my Malcolm heroines.
Do you have any interest in studying rocks or geology? If not, is there any science that does catch your interest?
And for anyone interested, one of my contemporary romances, IMPERFECT REBEL, is free on all platforms today through June 25. books2read.com/cm2
“…both a love story and a story of personal growth.” —Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times, 4 1/2, TOP PICK