Set in Stone: A Guide to Rocks

Henry David Thoreau said geology is where we “discover the causes of all past changes in the present invariable order of society.” In so many ways science﹘be it chemistry, geology, astronomy, or biology﹘is the study of change over time; the intense pressure put upon a subject causing it to evolve from one state to another, and to grow from there.

As a scientific species, we experience time travel not only when we send probes into space to experience the relativity of time and space, but each time we put a rock under the microscope. At Asphalt Materials, we love the stories that rocks tell. Each one teaches us about what occurred in our valley millions of years ago and helps us appreciate the natural beauty found all over Utah. Over the years our customers have grown to value our various landscape supplies, and our various rock and sand options have elevated our asphalt company beyond just making blacktops.

History on the Rocks

In order to better understand the rocks we sell (and why we love them), let’s travel back in time and see how they were formed. It’s important to note that all rocks are the product of heating, cooling, and compacting of specific minerals and chemicals. Depending on the manner of their creation, all rocks fall into one of three distinct categories.

Igneous Rocks

Igneous rocks are created when molten rock material cools and solidifies. Igneous rocks can often be identified by the often brilliant crystalline specs set into their surface. These crystals differ in size based on how quickly the rock cooled from its molten state; the slower it cools, the more time big crystals have to form and harden. An example of this is granite or our very own Berry Dazzle igneous, which can be seen sparkling in the sun. Some igneous rocks don’t get the luxury of a slow cooling period, however, and are formed with very few (if any) crystals, like obsidian. Here we see a distinction between the two types of igneous rocks. How they are cooled and whether they are ejected from the earth in their molten state makes them one of two possible types of rock.
  • Intrusive Igneous: Rocks that are cooled in their magma state, slowly and deep underground. This creates large crystals.
  • Extrusive Igneous: Rocks that are cooled above the planet’s crust, usually after having been shot out of a volcano as lava. The introduction of air and water causes extrusive igneous rocks to cool very rapidly. This creates small crystals.

Some of our most popular rocks for landscaping are igneous, thanks to their brilliance and color. We offer everything from pitch black lava rocks to shimmering quartz rocks, in order to decorate your yard in a unique and timeless way.

Sedimentary Rocks

As the name suggests, sedimentary rocks are created as sediments, sand, and other broken pieces of rock are layered on top of each other and hardened over millions of years. Like looking at the rings of a tree, we can chart the path of each of these rocks by looking at the lines of sediment and determining what happened in the area. Utah is particularly well-known for it sedimentary rocks, and famous examples include the red rocks of Bryce Canyon and the stripes of the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. We also deal in sedimentary rock, offering stunning decorative options like our Sunburst sandstone.

Thanks to the way in which they were formed, sedimentary rocks are perfect for housing fossils because the remains could simply be piled over as the millennia drew on. Generally speaking, the rocks are also relatively soft and have been known to break apart without much force. This makes the great natural formations in our state extremely delicate. These qualities of sedimentary rocks are not just great at teaching us about the steady flow of time but are also the best rocks to connect us to the earliest life on earth. Each stone is a paradox: lifeless pieces of flagstone, shale, or chalk, and yet formed and shaped by ancient animals and water flows.

Metamorphic Rocks

In Franz Kafka’s seminal work The Metamorphosis, he writes about a man who “awoke one morning… found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.” Much like the protagonist of Kafka’s book, metamorphic rocks undergo an extreme transformation, changing altogether from one type of rock to another. These rocks aren’t melted or shaped by water, but instead, their chemical properties are changed as the earth’s crust heats and squishes them unendingly for millions of years.

Metamorphic Rocks are a great example of Mother Nature’s dominance over the planet﹘even stone is subject to her whims, and cannot maintain integrity if not given a chance to escape. We sell numerous types of metamorphic rock, usually the quartzite that supplements our other igneous and sedimentary rocks to create a more dynamic spectrum of beautiful options for our customers to choose from.

Not Just An Asphalt Company

We love the way different rocks not only tell us the story of our planet and our state but how they can more fully help our customers realize their landscaping dreams. We are proud to offer these landscape supplies, including the asphalt that is our namesake, to our customers in Utah who want to make their property stand out from the rest. Just call us now and we can get planning.