Highland County Geologic Map


This image illustrates part of the geological map of Highland County, Virginia in the Valley & Ridge province.  Note the linear belts Paleozoic sedimentary rocks that are repeated by folding.  From oldest to youngest these include O1 = lower Ordovician strata, O2 = upper Ordovician strata, S1 = Silurian strata, SD = Silurian-Devonian strata, D1 […]

Micrograph of Deformed Quartz Sandstone


This micrograph colorfully illustrates deformed quartz grains in a well-cemented quartz sandstone from the Cambrian Antietam Formation, a prominent geologic unit in the Blue Ridge geologic province.  Many of the individual sand grains are elongated (~horizontal orientation), but not recrystallized.  Photo taken in cross polarized light with the gypsum plate inserted.

Hylas Zone Mylonite


This micrograph illustrates a mylonite from the Hylas Zone in the eastern Piedmont ~5 km west of Doswell, Virginia.  The rock is characterized by a well-developed foliation with elongate quartz ribbons (transparent grains) and feldspar porphyroclasts.  The rock originally was a granodiorite that was strongly deformed and sheared, under ductile conditions, into a mylonite. Checkout […]

Virginia’s State Rock: Nelsonite


On July 1, 2016, Governor Terry McCauliffe signed a bill into law that made nelsonite the first official state rock of Virginia. The initiative for this project was led by students from Piedmont Virginia Community College.  Michelle Stanislaus and her classmates from their Historical Geology class and Government class ran the petition for this law starting […]

At the Pluton’s Edge

pluton contact

When large quantities of magma intrude and solidify in the Earth’s crust they form bodies of intrusive igneous rock known as plutons. The featured image nicely illustrates the edge (geologic contact) of a granitic pluton in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. The granite is part of the 706 ± 4 million year old […]

Virginia’s State Fossil

Chesapectean Fossil

This distinctive scallop is the state fossil of Virginia and is the first fossil described from North America in 1687. Chesapecten sp. are commonly found in strata exposed along Coastal Plain cliffs along major rivers in southeastern Virginia and eastern North Carolina. Chesapecten jeffersonius is the index fossil for the Lower Yorktown Formation, and is distinguished by the number […]

Old Rag Mountain

The NW face of Old Rag Mountain, which is situated in the Shenandoah National Park. This mountain is famous for the rock scramble that is at the top.

Old Rag Mountain is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. The trail leading to the top is one of the most popular hikes in Virginia. This is due to the fantastic views, and the scrambling nature of the hike required to reach the summit.  The large granitic boulders provide a unique rock […]

Mount Rogers

Mt Rogers

Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia, with its summit 1,746 meters above sea level (5,729 ft). The peak is located in the Blue Ridge province in southwestern Virginia on the border between Grayson and Smyth counties.  Mount Rogers is underlain by Neoproterozoic rhyolite.  The upper reaches of the mountain are cloaked in alpine forests of red […]