Mineralogical Studies on Medium to High grade Metasedimentary rocks from Mount Mitchell State Park, NC, USA

Alyssa Coburn


Mount Mitchell was discovered in 1835 by Dr. Elisha Mitchell from the University of North Carolina. It became a state park in 1916, and after the late 1980’s and 1990’s, geological files regarding the mountain ceased being updated with new research findings. Although we know that Mt. Mitchell lies in the Ashe Metamorphic suite which contains Metasedimentary rocks such as schist, gneiss and metagraywacke, updating these geological files on Mt. Mitchell could provide more in-depth information regarding the history of the mountain, especially in regards to how it was formed and what processes occurred to create it. Updating the information of Mount Mitchell will start with going through all the geological files that park has on site. A brief and general rock report will be compiled for first hand observations. At the lab, an accurate assessment of each sample in terms of what minerals are present and its composition were done by using a Polarized Light Microscope (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and spindle stage systems. Further research will include sample analysis by using the Energy-Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) used through the SEM and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) to further analyze chemical composition and mineral assemblages. A final extensive rock and mineral report will be compiled and compared with existing geological data at Mt. Mitchell State Park. Temperature and pressures of the mountain’s formation environments can be calculated and placed into context with other regional geological events through future research. The park’s research and displays can be updated to benefit both the park and its visitors.


Mount Mitchell State Park, metamorphic petrology, microscopy

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