The geology along the Oregon coast is interesting and complex. Lava flows and other volcanic activity, subduction of the oceanic plates and subsequent crumpling and uplifting of the continental plate, as well as faulting, folding, and erosion over the eons have sculpted the landscape that we see today. The plentiful rocks along the coast are primarily of volcanic origin, the remnants of lava that cooled and hardened relatively quickly in geologic time. Intermingled with these igneous rock formations are layers of sedimentary rocks that have been tilted or folded by tectonic activity over millennia. All of the rocks are exposed to the forces of nature, being constantly pounded and tumbled by wave action and weather, undergoing chemical and mechanical dissolution from the intruding sea and rain water, as they make their way through the rock cycle.
The Devil's Punch Bowl Natural Area, located to the north of Newport, was our stop for the second morning on the Oregon Coast workshop. Thanks to careful planning by our workshop leaders, Rick Sammon and Alex Morley, we arrived at low tide so that we could access the interesting rock formations from below. After a brief hike down a relatively steep and sometimes slippery trail, we were on the beach and on our way into the 'bowl'. Devil's Punch Bowl is a cave in the sedimentary rock that was formed by the pounding waves. However, this cave has no ceiling, having long since collapsed, leaving the bowl shaped feature where we would spend some time on this morning making images. The weather conditions were perfect, giving us some nice blue sky to contrast with the colorful rock formations. Check out some the images below, and don't forget to click on them to see them full size.