Flat Rock Church, Striped Granite

Flat Rock Church, October 2, 2010
What is this rock, and why is it here?

Over twenty people from the Flat Rock community and the Independence Methodist Church attended yesterday evening’s geology program presented by Fred Newcomb, and hosted by Blue Ridge Discover Center. Fred has taught middle and high school students geology and earth history for 33 years. Before that he was employed as a petroleum geologist for several major oil companies and worked in North Africa and Southeast Asia. He and his wife, Beth (also a teacher), live in Grayson County.Fred began his program at 4:00 PM, setting up outside under a grove of trees. Flat Rock Church and community center are built upon a large outcropping of granite, which gave rise to the inspiration to share some deep history of this unique place. Along with two tables of rocks and other demonstration tools, Fred also handed out printed material to help illustrate the content of his discussion.

Beginning with some basic rock identification, Fred drew our attention to the composition of granite in general, and the striped granite on site specifically. From there he took us back in time, explaining the theory of plate tectonics, origin of the continents, radiometric age dating and eventually pulled us back to the moment and the rock we were sitting on. During the hour and half, he entertained many good questions, explained things with uncanny clarity, and took time afterwards to help identify rocks that some of the community had brought to share.

As the bright autumn sun gave way to brisk breezes, a fire was built and a hot dog roast initiated. Before I departed, one elder member of the community asked me if we could do an astronomy program some day, to which I replied, certainly.

-Scott Jackson-Ricketts