The baking of an angular unconformity: Hutton’s Unconformicake

A post by Chris RowanHopefully, now that you’ve gotten a good look at the real Hutton’s Unconformity in all its geological splendour, you won’t think too badly of my attempt to recreate it in cake form for the Accretionary Wedge Bake Sale.

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point

Hutton's Unconformity

Hutton's Unconformicake.

Some annotations show that the “Unconformicake” recreates at least the basic features of the outcrop at Siccar Point, even if I’ve yet to find a rock that weathers to buttercream.

The annotated unconformicake

The annotated unconformicake

However, one of the reasons that I chose to make this particular cake was that the process of making it mirrors the events that produced the outcrop at Siccar Point. For reference, my raw materials were two loaf cakes, one vanilla, one chocolate. First, I stacked alternating vertical slices of vanilla and chocolate cake on top of each other, using liberal quantities of raspberry jam as a lithifying agent.

Banded chocolate and vanilla cake layers being deposited in an initially horizontal orientation

I then rotated this stack onto its side, and used a knife to level off the top – creating lots of clastic crumbs in the process – before covering it with buttercream icing.

The lower banded cake unit is tilted and eroded.

Next, horizontal slices through the vanilla and chocolate loaves were laid down above the buttercream layer.

The upper banded cake unit is laid down.

More buttercream was added to finish, to represent a modern erosion surface.

The finished unconformicake.

Of course, since culinary erosion rates are much higher than geological ones, it did not take long for this outcrop to be significantly cut down to size, it’s profound structural and temporal secrets lost to would-be Huttons of the cake-baking world.

Rapid erosion of the unconformicake in the 4 days after baking.

Those of you who are good with geometry may have worked out that I didn’t quite use all of my two starting loaves to create the unconformicake: in fact, enough remained to create a bonus allochthonous thrust sheet. Appropriately, chocolate was acting as the exotic terrane.

Should this be our new banner, do you think?

Unsurprisingly for a recreation of a structure produced in zones of significant mountain-building, uplift and erosion, this particular specimen was reduced to nothing in no time at all – although oddly enough, just as with the unconformicake the major forces at work were anthropogenic weathering agents. Maybe there’s a Nature publication in this…

Categories: bloggery, structures
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Comments (4)

  1. Nina F says:

    Too clever! Another great illustration of geological forces. I do have my suspicions what those anthropomorphic weathering agents might have been, however…

  2. Jenny says:

    You knew I would comment on this one now, didn’t you!!!! Lucky Elisabeth to get a geologically accurate birthday cake :) It’s the second time this month that I’ve had cause to wish that cake could be sent via internet…

  3. Silver Fox says:

    That’s the yummiest unconformity I’ve ever seen!

  4. Dana Hunter says:

    Man, those anthropogenic agents sure do wreak havoc, don’t they just? Love the bonus thrust sheet!

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