By Debbie Artigliere
At John Knox Village, Coquina Rock is a beautiful addition to our landscaping. You have probably walked or driven by some wonderful examples of this unique sedimentary rock which was formed along the east coast of Florida. “Coquina” means ‘tiny shell’ in Spanish.
It is a relatively soft stone, easy to cut and mine while still in the ground, but hardens when exposed to air, making it suitable for building. Coquina is a mixture of snail fragments, mollusks, ammonites, trilobites, quartz crystals and sand grains held together with calcium carbonate that formed when much of our present-day coast was underwater.
Large scale mining began under Spanish rule in 1671 for the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Used as construction material for four centuries, the remains of the sugar mills, living quarters, and colonial buildings were constructed completely with coquina rock and dot our eastern coastline.
To preserve the rock in its natural state, today most public coquina rock is illegal to mine. Mining is still allowed on private property.
Pictures above are fossils from Debbie’s collection: Left) trilobite, Middle) ammonite, Right) close up of coquina rock. Coquina rock (right) located between the Pavilion and Lake Fountain.
Many thanks to Anthony Yebba, former Mayor of Orange City, for his contribution to this article.