Our department uses its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina for field trips at all levels of our curriculum. Many of these outcrops are at road cuts open to the public and suitable for visits by large numbers of students and teachers. Others are located in privately owned quarries. Several of these rocks and many others are in our Rock Garden and can be visited virtually.
For information and photos of specific locations see Field Trip Locations below. Download our KMZ file for use in Google Earth.
Field Trip Locations
- Ashe Metamorphic Suite - Eclogite (Optional Stop): Eclogite outcrop at the base of the Ashe Metamorphic Suite. Outcrop is exposed on roadcut on west side of road. Parking can be problematic here.
- Ashe Metamorphic Suite - Pelitic Schists: Pelitic schist outcrop on the north side of the road and under the NC221 Bridge by the New River in Ashe County.
- Ashe Metamorphic Suite - Ultramafic Body: Students can collect porphyroblastic garnet (>1 cm) chlorite schist and magnetite bearing chlorite schist at Greer Hollow in Ashe County.
- Blowing Rock Gneiss - Tweetsie Outcrop: The well-known “Tweetsie Railroad” outcrop exposes Blowing Rock Gneiss and cross-cutting felsic and mafic dikes.
- Blowing Rock Gneiss - Landslide: Students in Introductory laboratories visit a landslide that occurred in December 2006 south of Blowing Rock, NC.
- Blowing Rock Gneiss - New Roadcut: New roadcuts south of Blowing Rock, NC made during the widening of NC 321 expose Grenvillian Blowing Rock Gneiss cross cut by pegmatitic and basaltic dikes.
- Dunite Pod: Anhydrous and hydrothermally altered dunite pods occur throughout the Ashe Metamorphic Suite.
- Grandfather Mountain Formation Metaconglomerate: The NeoProterozoic Grandfather Mountain Formation includes metamorphosed sedimentary and metamorphosed volcanic rocks formed during failed rifting of the Grenvillian supercontinent at 735-745 Ma.
- Grandfather Mountain Formation - Beacon Heights Eolian Dunes
- Grandfather Mountain Quartzites at Beacon Heights, which preserve relict crossbedding
- Farmington Gabbro: More info coming soon. This field trip requires access to the Smith Grove Quarry, owned by Vulcan Materials (special permission required).
- Concord Plutonic Suite - Gabbro
- Concord Plutonic Suite - Syenite
- Topaz Collecting Site
- Triassic Basin - Solite Quarry (Cascade, VA): The Solite sedimentary rocks are considered to be among the richest and most productive Triassic terrestrial sequences in the world, with abundant and diverse insect, plant and vertebrate fossils.