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Devil's Marbles - Exfoliation in Action

Devil's Marbles - Exfoliation in Action
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1987-08
Categories: Desert
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-04-26 6:37
Viewed: 7359
Points: 38
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
A few years ago these rocks were used in a Konica advert and have been used countless tomes since by other companies. The shot is a scanned slide and was taken with a Canon 5 and Agfa 100 asa slide film. (Size hint - I am 6' 1'' and when standing in the gap between the boulders came just below half way)

The Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve contains formations of naturally rounded and oval boulders called Karlu Karlu by the local Aborigines. The area is located near Wauchope, 114km south of Tennant Creek in Northern Territory. The boulders are located in a traditional Aboriginal sacred site and are important to the local Aboriginal people. The Kaytetye people believe that the boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Over time, the ceremonies and stories related to the Devil's Marbles have largely been lost, but the site is still very important to the tribe and may be considered to be among the oldest religious sites in the world. The Reserve is accessible all year round and has a network of pathways with information boards and a basic camping area.

There sometimes is some inclarity about the correct spelling. Note that in Australia, no apostrophes are used when referring to geographical names. However, when referring to the rocks themselves, and not to the reserve, an apostrophe should be used. To make things easy. So: The Devil's Marbles are located in the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve.

The Devil's Marbles are made of granite, which surfaces like a little geological island in the desert, surrounded by incredible amounts of sandstone. The granite is thought to be formed about 1.7 billion years ago as a result of the hardening of magma within the earth's crust. Thick layers of sandstone on top of it put a lot of pressure on this granite. After the folding of the earth's crust, which lead to the lifting of the granite, and the erosion of the sandstone the granite came to surface. The pressure was gone which caused the granite to be able to expand; cracks formed, and it fell apart in big, square blocks.

The second phase of the formation of the Marbles started when these blocks got exposed to water. The surface of the blocks began to decay under the influence of the water, and a layer of loose material surrounded the individual blocks. When they came to the surface completely, this layer was flushed away by water and blown away by wind. The next phase of the process had started.

The roundening of the granite blocks is a result of both chemical and mechanical weathering. Firstly, exfoliation plays a part. Chemical processes cause the surface of the blocks to expand and/or shrink. Thin layers of rock come off the boulder. This rounds the granite block, because the chemical processes have more effect on areas with edges. These processes cause the rock to look like it's made of layers like an onion. In effect, only the outer few centimeters are affected by chemical weathering. This process is called spheroidal weathering. Secondly, the boulders are suffering from solarisation. Because the temperature differences between day and night are so great, the rocks expand and shrink a little bit every 24 hours. This causes some rocks to crack, sometimes even splitting them in half.

manuel1982, Alex99, jaycee, Aramok, Necipp, nglen, Adanac, ramthakur, horia, marioana, MommaMiaX3, lee, clnaef has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Evelynn: AttachedJamesp 1 04-26 18:37
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Critiques [Translate]

good shot!!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-04-26 10:57]

Hi James,

Beautiful picture - fascinating notes. I love the colors and the comp. Wonderful details on the boulders. And a magnificent sky.


So are these rocks actually attached to the rock beneath. They look so similar to glacial erratics. They are really big. It is a nice sharp interesting image and note.

Evelynn : )

  • Great 
  • Aramok Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 896 W: 101 N: 1501] (5166)
  • [2007-04-26 12:52]

Great shot. the detail is amazing. I really like the angle here, though I guess there may not have been too much choice!

I was wondering if you have tried any noise reduction software becuase scanned slides/netgatives often give off a lot of noise which is showing in the sky.


Hello James a very interesting shot the POV is excellent nice light and a good range of shadows/highlights good sharpness and I love the sky colour tones tfs rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-04-26 17:56]

Hi James. what a great shot.compostion and POV. are so good. with a great sky colour.Thanks for the notes very useful.

Hi James.
Interesting shot. Very nice excercise with the colour, structure and focus. Very pure and sharp shot. Well done. tfs. Stev

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-04-26 21:30]

Hi James,
What a huge set of marbles you have captured here, very unique , thanks too for the great note that expands thier formation.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-04-26 22:23]

Hello James
Wow you certainly get about.Good colour saturation and well composed.The shot is well focused with sharp details.Nicely done.TFS


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-04-27 3:59]

Hi James.
I like your very interesting note and facts. Quality of the picture is great. I think, that Konica could use this picture for own advertising safely. Great POV, composition, sharpness and fantastic in its beautifulness colours. Bravo and TFS.

Hello James,
Your story about these Devil's Marbles reads well :-).
This is, no doubt, a fascinating creation of nature. No wonder the native aborigines worship it.
The scanned slide image going back 20 years looks mint fresh and beautiful.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-04-27 8:02]

Hi James and really sorry for the delay.
I've been mostly out in the fild these past couple of days searching for some new animals :)
This is a very beautiful shot of this interesting place in our lovely world!
These two huge rocks are indeed a bit wierd, but they make and interesting composition.
Great that you mentioned their size (in relation to you) in your note...otherwise from the shot is rather difficult to tell.

Cheers and TFS

G'day James.
Very nice composition. Great colour and sharpness. Good fun subject. Well done.
Regards, Steve.

Hello James! :)

Fantastic photograph! Teaching me again about another wonderful element of planet earth! They must be monstrous in person, really interesting note, amazing that they expand and contract daily! Thank you for sharing, take care and be well my friend!


  • Great 
  • lee Silver Star Critiquer [C: 38 W: 0 N: 23] (84)
  • [2007-04-27 21:12]

Hi James, interesting photo here. Something we don't see everyday. Great colors and tones. The gradient sky adds a nice touch to the photo. TFS.


This is such an interesting post James! I have learned many things about a region that I have never heard of before. This is a perfect capture of those stunning rocks with superb exposure, POV and details. Thanks a lot!

  • Great 
  • clnaef Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 778 W: 67 N: 645] (6814)
  • [2007-04-28 10:09]

Bonne idée que d'avoir immortalisé ces deux blocs sous un angle très favorable.
Bonne journée.

so impressive!

Hi James,

Amazing what nature can accomplish.
-Why don't they just role down the cliff? :)
Nice shot.
Very informative note.


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