“What you got in there? Bricks?”

The UPS guy was making the typical joke because the box was so heavy.

“No,” I said, “a rock,” thus fulfilling the other weight related cliche. Then I added: “My wife is a geologist.” The UPS guy laughed heartily and happily rid himself of the 40 pound box.

In the box was a rock my wife carried out of her field research area inside the Grandfather Mountain Window in northwestern North Carolina in the Linville Falls area. (Rock pics below)

She carried this thing out of the woods and back to the car. Like I said, it weight about 40 pounds. But it’s awesome as hell. Here’s why…

Formally, it’s known as Blowing Rock Gneiss, and it’s roughly 1.2 billion years old. Billion. With a B.
It was created during the Grenville Orogeny, which occurred during the formation of the supercontinent Rodinia. Most people only know about Pangea but there were several supercontinents before Pangea (which was the most recent at 320-270 million years ago), and Rodinia was one of them. For those of you living in the eastern US, you may be interested in knowing the Appalachian Mountains are old. Very old. Older than the Rockies. Much of the Appalachian chain was formed during the Grenville Orogeny. Here is a modern day map of area affected by the Grenville Orogeny. It’s no coincidence it matches the Appalachian chain. Also notice the little bit in Scotland – further proof of good old continental drift.
So what does a billion-year-old rock look like?

It’s got tons of smaller instances of geologic events and other minerals and whatnots that my wife could explain way better than I can that make it a really awesome rock. I sprayed it with water because it increases the contrast of the various minerals, rocks, and elements that make it up. Remember, this sucker is a solid 40 pounds. Here it is with my wife’s GeoLEGO likeness for scale –

Pretty rad, right?


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