Geologic History of The Blue Ridge & Western Piedmont
Visit the Nelson Memorial Library for a tour of the rocks that showcase the geologic history of the Blue Ridge.
The rocks that underlie Nelson County contain clues to a long and complex geologic history. When we study these rocks, we are uncovering the geologic history of the Blue Ridge and western Piedmont, as we know them today. Blue Ridge geologic history is characterized by multiple cycles of tectonic plate collisions, rifting or pulling apart, then drifting. This cycle has repeated itself at least twice in the last one billion years.
About one billion years ago as the supercontinent Rodinia was formed, crustal plates collided and formed great mountains (the Grenville Mountains) where the Blue Ridge would eventually stand. These mountains were the ancestors of our present Blue Ridge. With the heat and pressures caused by burial beneath huge mountains, molten masses of rock formed and began to rise upward through the earth’s crust. Some of this molten material may have risen all the way to the surface and poured out as volcanic lava. But much of it crystallized deep beneath the surface, forming large blobs or plutons of granite. These granites are exposed at the surface today in central and western Nelson County, from Lovingston to Three Ridges Mountain.
Geologic History: Learn More