A Walk Along the Palos Verdes Tidepools


Benida Solow and I took advantage of post-rainy day clear skies to walk along the geologic fantasyland that is the tide pool area below the seacliffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula yesterday.


In the words of geologist Ron Merritt Morris: “The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a tectonic fault block of seafloor sediments and volcanics draped atop a submerged mountain of metamorphic rocks that began rising out of the Pacific Ocean 1.5 million years ago.”


Or, as Earth Science World puts it, “California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula contains more than a dozen distinct uplifted wave-cut terraces. Folded Miocene sedimentary rocks are exposed in the sea cliff.”


Although the tidepools did not teem with life…


…the abundance of mussel, snail, clam and abalone shells and fragments along the shore and the great swaths of beached kelp indicated a thriving community off shore. We did see a sea lion swimming nearby, a gaggle of cormorants on an offshore island, and a colony of well-fed semi-ferral cats living among the boulders between the shore and the parking lot.


Although most signs of humans having been there disgusted us (graffiti on the seacliffs and litter along the shore), one passerby left a pleasing sculpture in one tide pool.


Benida found a magical rock, the size and shape of a human heart, and striated with sparkling quartz that suggested a jumping sea mammal. A fitting valentine from the earth and sea that she honors in so much of her work.