This song was not used as the music for a Psalm, and, like Song 109 – Sedimentation, is referenced by Song 021 – Dunes. As mentioned in these two songs, this series of “geology songs” resulted from thoughts at a 2015 dance recital at SUU, which was directed by our then neighbor Patty Meredith. Once there are rocks in an area, whether from volcanic, intrusive, metamorphic, or sedimentary processes, these rocks can be changed or altered. Some change agents include: an impact by a meteor; weathering from rain, snow, wind, etc.; hydrothermal fluids moving along a fault scarp; pressure and temperature changes tied to structural and fluid movements tied to growth of a salt or shale diapir; intrusion into preexisting rocks by a granite or quartz monzonite or copper porphyry or another heated rock or magmatic body along with hot materials and fluids; or chemical changes because of acid, water, temperature, and pressure. As the words from the song state, which words come from the Glossary of Geology, alteration can be considered a phase of metamorphism, and yet it is usually milder and more localized. These changes result in changes in chemical composition, or in mineralogical composition. For example, alteration can change limestone to dolomite, replacing calcium cells with magnesium cells, which are much smaller, greatly increasing the porosity and permeability of the original limestone rock matrix, creating an excellent trap for oil and gas. Marathon Oil’s Finley Reef is a good example of this type of alteration. Many mineral seams are related to alteration as hydrothermal fluids move along fault planes. Geothermal deposits tend to dissolve rocks, accumulate minerals like gold and silver, which settle out as a type of cap over the center of the geothermal hot spot. There are significant economic advantages tied to understanding geological alteration.
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