Photo: Adam Silverman
Plutonic, macro-basalt bloom


For Dr. Louis Hirshkowitz


The mystery of the Plutonic macro-basalt bloom has been around since humans first discovered them on the high desert floor. They are represented in the petroglyphs near the Salton Sea dating back over 9,000 years and, they have been studied by scientists since the birth of geology.


We still don’t know much about them. We do know that these things appear very infrequently, every few decades at the most. We also know, but we don’t know why, they always appear in close proximity to Pegmatite dikes (the large crystal sheet-like intrusions that cut across the grain of the rock into which it has intruded, composed primarily of quartz, feldspar and usually some mica). Early geologists and philosophers believed that the plutonic macro-basalt bloom had either been left behind when the seas receded 250 million years earlier, were hardened magma that had pushed up from the core of the earth, or that they had fallen from the sky.


The geologist Louis Hirshkowitz, who dedicated his career to the study of Plutonic macro-basalt blooms, published his infamous paper, “The birth of the bloom”, in 1929 in the journal of Geology. In it he posited the following theory: “These strange objects known as Plutonic macro-basalt blooms seem to be a unique ‘life form’ for lack of a better term. I believe they appear spontaneously from another dimension, having self-generated from a condensed and concentrated magnetic storm that occurs within the object at the atomic level. Beginning with the wind blowing exactly right, so as to take up some rock varnish in its flow. Then turning the microrbial of the macrolaminations of manganese and Iron oxides into fine atmospheric dust, and then it’s magnetic pull toward and into itself resulting in a mass of self generating, and growing plutonic macro-basalt bloom. When the magnetic charge is broken from a shift in the wind, or other unknown force, the bloom drops from its dimension of origin, into ours, and onto the desert floor”.


After the publication of this paper, Dr. Hirshkowitz was dismissed from his faculty position at the California Institute of Technology. He moved to Joshua Tree in 1930 and was never heard from again.