Trying on the Murphy Belt for Size

So it’s been three and a half months since this semester started, and we’ve finally made it to the one chapter of Geology that I’ve really been looking forward to: North Carolina Geology. This is the stuff that’s relevant to us–the information that’s really worth retaining. Being from the mountains of North Carolina, our livelihoods are built on rock and carved from the stone that defines the status of our community. Sitting in class the other day, it was really cool to hear Dr. Pillar talk about the Murphy Belt, which is exactly where I live: Murphy, North Carolina. Composed of rocks from up to a billion years ago, the Murphy Belt is a complex mixture of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks that have been squeezed, fractured, faulted, and twisted into folds. Our belt is well-known for its feldspar, mica, and quartz deposits; these three major minerals being utilized in a number of professions, specifically the ceramic, paint, and electrical industries. Olivine is also found in the belt, and after being mined, it’s oftentimes used for refactory and foundry molding sand. Granite is a rock that’s prevalent all across the state, and it’s no different for those of us in the Murphy Belt. There are fairly large deposits and outcrops of the intrusive, felsic igneous rock scattered all across the region–these can be seen from the road when driving along US-74 or when hiking on a backcountry trail. The belt is in the western-most part of the state, a portion of North Carolina in which the towns and communities are dwarfed by nature–an idea that few people have ever encountered before. So much of the Piedmont region has been developed for humans’ benefit: in response to this fact, I suppose my one question is why are we so keen on tearing down and re-developing pieces of nature that are oh-so-perfect already? Maybe that’s just me; I suppose I’ll get off my soapbox now. In addition to the rocks and minerals mentioned beforehand, there are three other minerals/rocks that are hugely important to the Murphy Belt and its surrounding areas: talc, marble, and soapstone. The deposits of Marble are actually so large that we have a town named Marble after the sheer amount of the metamorphic rock found there. Derived from limestone (which we also have in a fairly-large abundance), marble is, if you’d like to call it this, our defining rock. Our county courthouse is made of the stuff, and WOW, is it a beautiful structure or what?! I guess the point of me blogging about all this is just that I think it’s cool how learning about the Earth can actually pertain to all of us living here in North Carolina. Our geologic makeup is unique, leaving geologists’ with a constant fascination that keeps bringing them back for more.


About willdogg10

I am a renegade in this world, challenging both myself and others to become more and more inspired by our faith and the God for whom we live every single day. May we take heart in the possibilities that LOVE and SELFLESSNESS have to offer us, and may we come to realize that the greatest luxuries in life are those we participate in that belong to Someone greater.
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2 Responses to Trying on the Murphy Belt for Size

  1. Wendy Foster says:

    Great blog! I am looking forward to discovering all that is geological about North Carolina as well. My husband worked for a company that has eight rock quarries located in different parts of the state. Some mine granite, some slate and others sand. We have a very diverse state and I am looking forward to learning more about North Carolina’s natural treasures.

  2. nrcook14 says:

    Trying on the Murphy Belt for Size…? Good one my friend. As corny as this publication may be, I did find it quite interesting. I myself, also live in the Murphy Belt and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. Throughout the entire time I lived in Murphy, I never really thought about the different types of rocks it may be home to. Now that I am taking this Geology course, it has sparked more of an interest to learn even more about the area that I’m from, and hopefully I’ll be able to put some knowledge of rocks into effect the next time I go back to Murphy. Probably one of the coolest things about the Murphy Belt, I would have to agree, is the vast amount of marble it has which I have always known of. I mean we do have a small little town named “Marble” due to the fact. Geology become more and more interesting as we can relate it to our own lives and surroundings.

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