Boring Rocks

I have just come across a new word – saxicavous, so I look it up in that well-known source of Truth and concise definition – Wik Dictionary.  To discover a bald definition: “boring rocks“.

Wonderful! This is a word I have been looking for all my professional life. What geologist has not long sought such a useful adjective.

But this does not seem quite right, so I go to a more reliable and comprehensive source – the Meriam-Webster Dictionary. This gives the game away. The word means a rock (Latin: saxum) that been bored with lots of little holes and pits (Latin: cavere, “to hollow out”) by a class of small marine mollusk known as the Saxicave.  To this genus belongs the wonderfully named wrinkled, red-nosed, rock borer (Hiatella Arctica).

Come to think of it, that’s very good description of many diamond drillers and miners I have known.

Pity, but still a useful pun. I still shall try to fit the word in somehow, somewhere, someday, if only to show off my new-found erudition. For example, if we make a logical extension to the definition of a saxicavous rock so that it includes the effects of any kind of biological activity (and not just that of the red-nosed borer and his ilk) then the irregular bored and hollowed out areas (stopes) of many old underground mines could be described as saxicavous. Maybe the term will catch on?

Hiatella Arctica

The wrinkled, red-nosed rock borer (Hiatella Arctica)

Saxicavous rock
…and this is what it does: a saxicavous rock.


…but not to be confused with this…a vesicular basalt.

Plan of old mine workings

…but perhaps by extension – plan view of anthropogenic bored and hollowed rocks (aka stopes) of a former underground mine. Saxicavous rock?

Comments are closed.