"Spaceship Earth" - a sculpture designed as a tribute to the famous environmentalist David Brower - was built completely from Brazilian blue quartzite. The sculpture, created by renowned Finno-American sculptor Eino, was a sphere fifteen metres in diameter and weighing 175 tons. The stone for this ambitious project was obtained from the Brazilian-based GRAMIL quarries. GRAMIL also supplied the tools for cutting the quartzite, without which the project would not have been possible. The sphere represented Earth, and for the blue planet the quartzite was rather fitting.
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. During tectonic compressions, which result in high pressures and high temperatures, the original quartz from the sand grains of which sandstone is made fuses with quartz silica cement to create quartzite. The original quartzite is usually white or gray. However, due to impurities from other minerals, quartzite of different colours can be readily found. The most notable is pink and red quartzite, which colour comes from contamination with different amounts of iron oxide.
Spaceship Earth was unveiled at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia in October 2006. But only three months later, on the 4th of January 2007, the sphere collapsed, breaking into the 88 pieces from which the original globe was assembled.
Quartzite is very resistant to chemical weathering, so the stone could not be blamed. Instead the culprit for the disaster is assumed to be the glue which held the structure together.
The original meaning of "Spaceship Earth" was a term expressing concern over the use of limited resources available on the planet. The collapse of the sculpture could be said to take the analogy a step further as the planet it represented sails ever closer to disaster.
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