Ooliths, Image Credit: Lori Carter
(See more about this image below)
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About the image on this page
In this close-up picture of a piece of gravel (see the image below) collected on a club field trip in Alabama, there are some weird little spheres that are about 2mm wide. Each one is a tiny concretion called an oolith (pronounced oh-uh-lith). Ooliths are formed in shallow water that has gentle back and forth movement. Calcium carbonate in the water accumulates around a nucleus, like a piece of sand or shrimp poop. It builds up layer by layer like a pearl. Over time, the ooliths may become stuck together to form a rock. Then after even more time, the calcium carbonate is replaced by silica. In this case, in addition to the silica, something else was involved in the replacement, perhaps manganese or iron, hence the dark color of the ooliths.
Image Credits: Lori Carter