Accretionary Wedge #42 – Countertop Geology: Palacio de Carlos V conglomerate

Ian Saginor of the blog Volcanoclast is hosting this month’s accretionary wedge, and this month’s theme is countertop geology!  What a great topic for an Accretionary Wedge – Here’s the call for posts.

The thing that immediately came to my mind was conglomerate, because its my favorite sedimentary rock (see second photo for evidence), especially in turbidite form (see this blog post)!  I have seen some nice conglomerate countertops, particularly when they have been metamorphosed and you can see the strain ellipses in the pebbles.  However, the best use of conglomerate in a decorative setting is the Palacio de Carlos V inside the walls of the Alhambra in the city of Granada, Spain.  It is a large, impressive, round palace built in 1527 for Carlos (Charles) V, a Roman Emperor.  It is pretty freakin’ awesome, mainly due to the fact that all the columns and seom of teh walls are made from a beautiful conglomerate, with multi-colored clasts.  The only bad thing is the conglomerate is cemented by calcium carbonate, and since it has been there for 500 years, it is starting to fall apart.  There are lots of cobbles and pebbles that have fallen out of the matrix, and many more that are loose.  Makes a never ending job for the poor guy that has to sweep this place every day.  Unfortunately, I dont have any information on where this conglomerate is from, or its age or composition.  If you have never been to the Alhmabra, make sure to go, and while you are there, don’t forget about the conglomerate!

Note that all of the columns and bases are made from the conglomerate.  Think about how hard it was to shape those without modern tools!

I heart conglomerate!


3 thoughts on “Accretionary Wedge #42 – Countertop Geology: Palacio de Carlos V conglomerate

  1. Wow, that is a great looking stone. I did some searching and came across one book that called this stone Almendrado and said it was from the quarries of El Turro. It may also be called puddinja del Turro. Please let me know if you find any other information on the stone.
    David Williams
    Stories in Stone: Travels through Urban Geology

  2. The conglomerate stone used in the palace is awesome, but I can imagine the extreme hard work that went into shaping up the rock. Even with today’s modern tools and techniques it’s a job and a half to cut and polish these rocks. We normally choose a conglomerate rock with granite or silt matrix instead of CaCO3 for longer life and better stability….hard work but extremely pleasing at the end.

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