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Slippery rock Gazette
Continued from page 24
Krukowski’s manufacturing fa- cility sits in between the quarries, putting everything in close prox- imity. “Logistically it’s a great thing,” says Joanie.
Northern Wisconsin’s Old Rocks
Although the quarries are only a mile apart, they’re separated by more than 1 billion years of geo- logic time. Aqua Grantique is one of Earth’s truly ancient stones – around 1.8 billion years old. The quartz sandstone is a rela- tive newcomer a mere half billion years old. How did such different stones end up right next to each other?
Northern Wisconsin is largely made up of rocks that are more than one billion years old, dat- ing back to the Precambrian Era. These rocks contain geologic sig- natures of the comings and goings of mountain ranges, continents rifting apart, new landmasses adding on, and periodic volcanic eruptions. A lot can happen in a
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  billion years, as it turns out. Aqua Grantique is what ge- ologists call a meta-volcanic rock. It once was molten magma that cooled and solidified into a dark-colored lava rock like ba- salt or gabbro. Later, the rock got buried, compressed, and heated, becoming a metamorphic rock through these processes. The high pressures of the subterranean en- vironment created the stone’s wavy texture and chemical reac- tions gave rise to new minerals
and colors.
By the end of Precambrian
time, around 500,000 years ago, the tectonic action that created Wisconsin’s diverse collection of rocks had calmed down, and the landscape of Wisconsin had been eroded down to a fairly flat plain. During the Cambrian period, sea level began to rise and waves lapped onto the landscape, cre- ating a beach. The geologic sig- nature of encroaching seas is the same, no matter when and where it occurs: a layer of sandstone. Thus, a layer of fresh sandstone was laid down on top of the old, contorted metamorphic rocks.
This Cambrian sandstone layer is one of the most common and
From left: Brad, Jeff and Chris Krukowski in the quartz sandstone quarry, where extremely rare jellyfish fossils have been discovered.
   prominent rock types in south- ern Wisconsin, but in the north- ern part of the state, it was wiped away by erosion, once again ex- posing the ancient metamorphic rocks. But a few protected loca- tions were overlooked by the ero- sive forces of water and glacial ice, and isolated pockets of sandstone were left behind. The Krukowski quarry is one such place.
The quarry has gained celebrity status amongst geologists, as it’s home to an extremely rare stash of fossils... of jellyfish. As you can imagine, a jellyfish is not an easy
thing to fossilize, since it doesn’t have teeth, bones, or any durable body parts. But sure enough, cer- tain sandstone layers in the quarry are dotted with round imprints of jellyfish that got stranded on the beach as the tide went out. The discovery made the cover of Geology, a high-profile sci- entific journal, and helped scien- tists learn more about the fauna of Cambrian seas.
It also made the quarry famous. “We get bombarded with phone calls,” says Joanie. “People are always asking, ‘Can we come see
your fossils?’” Due to ongoing quarrying activity, fossil-hunting is not permitted.
American Stewardship
In an era when so many prod- ucts are made overseas, the Krukowski family prides itself on its local roots. “We are one of the few companies in the U.S. that make countertop slabs,” says Joanie. Jeff adds, “But it costs ten times as much to produce in America as it does in Brazil, or India, or China.”
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