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white splotches, request for opinion on origin
09-12-2016, 02:50 AM, (This post was last modified: 09-12-2016, 03:14 AM by ThrillChaser.)
white splotches, request for opinion on origin
I was going through some old pictures recently which I had taken out on the chase and came across some which I had seen before, but chose not to follow up on. They show a natural rock shelter with a white splotch on a rock.

At first glance it may appear the blotch is in the form of a triangular "blaze" that you might find on a horse's forehead. The pictures don't really show it too clearly, I was using a high-zoom in windy conditions without a tripod, but I remember leaving there convinced that the shape of the white mark was more of a "splotch", like someone had poured white liquid (such as paint, or bird poop) from above, and there were a couple lines of white drip leading leading down from the main roughly circular splotch shape above. I still believe that to be true, and if I squint I can barely make that shape out in the pictures linked above.

What I'm more curious about is the origin of this stain. First I should preface this by saying that I don't remember exactly where I took this, but I know roughly the area, say, which side of which hill. It's pretty rugged, near or above 12000ft, and the pictures are taken at very high zoom, looking pretty much straight up a pretty steep boulder/talus slope with occasional alpine bunchgrass, and the boulders just get bigger as you go up. I'm thinking the size of the stain is likely at least 2ft in length from top to bottom, and possibly as long as 3ft. That'd make the rock shelter opening between about 8-12ft high. The shelter I do believe is accessible reasonably safely (as high altitude mountain adventures go), without special equipment beyond a reliable and well built pair of boots, but it would probably qualify as no place for the meek.

So how did that stain get there? What is it?

Bird? That's a lot of poop. Where's the nest?
Some other kind of animal have white poop that likes to poop over a rock?
Paint? Huh? There? Who? Why? When? Wouldn't paint wear off due to rain? Can you pour oil-or-other-based paint on a block of granite and expect it to weather the elements for years? Decades?
Lichen? Is there white lichen? Or it just looks white, it's really another color?

Other suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your input and opinion.

You know what, I think I finally answered my own question. It is bird poop. The nest is likely under the overhang of the uppermost, outermost rock. I was looking for a nest on the top of the rock. Any guesses as to what kind of birds nest under a rock overhang and poop an awful lot like that? I've heard some VERY loud squawking coming from nigh high in that canyon after a rainstorm has passed.

You know, it's funny how sometimes just the fact of posting something publicly makes you prepare for the feedback you might get, and makes you take that 500th look to make sure your ducks are all in a row.

I'm going to leave this post here as a reminder to me and a lesson to anyone else who cares to learn it.
09-12-2016, 07:17 AM,
RE: white splotches, request for opinion on origin
If it's at 12,000 ft why worry about it?
09-12-2016, 07:22 AM,
RE: white splotches, request for opinion on origin
I believe what you are seeing is calcium that has leached from within the rock.

This is my best guess. Would be nice to hear the opinion of a geologist.

I've found these stains that appear to run uphill. Upon further inspection realized the stain was formed high on the cliff before the bolder broke free.

On a side note, these bolder fields are a great place to find minerals.
"Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness." -Marshall McLuhan-

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