28mm x 17mm

28mm x 18mm

This agate is highly unusual. It's another of those specimens whose outside appearance did not immediately lead me to single it out for any special attention, although later I rediscovered it while sorting boxed material and noted its obvious finesse. It would have likely been collected during 2013/2014 in the area of Usan south of Pebble Rock. As to when exactly I procured it, in this case, that fact eludes me.              

 

            The painterly fortifications here, on the exterior edge are the most finely detailed I have yet seen in a Scottish agate, and also the most bizarre. They remind me of the myriad macabre body parts that litter the strandline.  

 

    After discussion with John D. Marshall, author of the insightful, intriguing and illuminating "The Other Lake Superior Agates", it would seem likely that this specimen is an example of an "agate within an agate", rather than a pseudomorph as I first assumed. There are no obvious mineral inclusions here, rather we have a ghostly, rippling central motif, surrounded on all sides by a surrealistic assortment of misshapen remainders of agate fortifications, dissolving like knots of wood into a bright welt of lava trail. Writhing and uncoiling like melting polythene. The bones of those suffering Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.  Impressions of both stunted and convoluted forms. Crustacean claws and carapaces. Arachnid exoskeletons. Dessicated woodlice armour hanging in a cobweb. Collage, frottage, grattage, chiaroscuro .To me these forms suggest Max Ernst, and include colours concurrent with some of Dali's work.  This agate exists within the inbetween. Two organisms simultaneously in symbiosis and conflict, both sharing and stealing, suckling and secreting, consuming and exuding. Spectres at the feast. 

 

        Or, in more scientific terms. If we assume that agates form initially as a silica gel, and that the oscillation of this substance through outside elements begins to arrange the chalcedony, as well as smaller proportions of myriad minerals, into ringed layers, then we can see that here, two distinct agate systems have begun to evolve, independently of one another, within the same nodule. The fortification banding at the stone's centre is only partially formed, stunted by the simultaneous formation of the separate agate, against which the hemi-eyes of the first rest, some malformed and not yet spherical, appearing to waver as if at distance through a heat-haze. The banding at the edges of the nodule was only just beginning to impose itself, when seemingly the two processes of formation collapsed leaving a vague concentric-banded agate, and the beginnings of another banded agate, along the edges, existing as broken, torn and twisted remnants. These fantastic shapes may have come into being as the now irregular dilations of the agate layering process broke down, and the agate collapsed in on itself, within the vesicle, the chaotic outer layer falling inward towards the more ordered centre. Most agates here have an indent at the base, indicating a mass of gelatinous silica hardening from the outside in, as a baked cake begins to set in an oven. 

 

The repeatedly aforementioned disrupted banding, at the point of interruption, clearly looks as if it began to reactively form an incredible array of shapes and patterns, moving in all directions, some possible lineation was perhaps caused by the current, the direction of flow during dilation. Mostly though, regular formation seems to have gone completely haywire, losing all regularity of pattern. Absolutely fantastic in my opinion.  

 

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Photograph by David Dorman.