written in stone
i've never found a word on a pebble before ...
It's a bit smaller than the palm of my hand, and it was really amazing to find! (well, I think so ... :)
report from a geologist:
The specimen is a somewhat rounded pebble of white vein quartz, approximately 7 x 6 x 2 cm. The quartz contains a thin, very tightly folded vein of blackish chlorite, slightly stained brown by iron oxides. On one surface, the chlorite veinlet appears to spell the word "LOVE" in 2cm high capital letters. The angles of the "L" "V" and "E" and the lower curve of the "O" are all delineated by fold hinges. There is a question as to whether the word "LOVE" is natural or an artefact.
The brown-black lettering is part of the chlorite veinlet, and cannot have been intruded into the quartz artificially. It has not been painted on. Inspection under a stereo binocular microscope at a magnification of ca. x16 reveals that most of the surface bearing letters is moderately worn. However, there are some sub-millimetre areas of fresh damage on and near the letters suggesting that tiny areas of quartz have been flaked off recently. The most obvious examples are in the break of the circle at the top of the "O" and on the stem of the "E" just below the black blob that conveys the impression of a central bar. It is possible that these lines are artificial "improvements" to the original shape, made with a dental pick or engraving tool. It is also possible that they are damage inflicted during the severe storms in the North Coast area. In either case, the word "LOVE" is likely to have been just as legible before this new damage as afterwards.
If the whole word was created by selective removal of the quartz from around the chlorite, this was done long ago, before the majority of water-rounding of the pebble took place. This seems unlikely. Even if this was done, selective exposure of chlorite to produce the word would have been a considerable artistic feat in it's own right. However, on the balance of probabilities, I believe the word "LOVE" in this rock was formed largely by natural erosion with minimal or no human enhancement.
Dr A Christy
Manager, Analytical Laboratories
Department of Earth and Marine Sciences
Faculty of Science
Australian National University