Field Trip to the Alberene Soapstone Company Mill
and Quarry in Schuyler, VA
Announcement from the BWH Section of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists
Saturday, March 23, 2013 – Rendezvous at 10 AM, trip from 11 AM – 3 PM
Soapstone in Central Virginia
Drew Thomas, Peter Farley and Steve Stokowski
Soapstone quarries have been active in Virginia for thousands of years, but the aboriginal quarries were relatively small, producing primarily only bowl and decorative objects. Industrial production for architectural, laboratory, and domestic usage uses began in the Albemarle, Nelson, and Amherst counties
in the late 1800’s. It soon centered in the mill town of Schuyler, VA, which was larger than the county seat.
At one time, the largest company employed over 2,000 people and controlled the mineral rights to over 9,000 acres.
This field trip will visit the mill of the Alberene Stone Company at the location of the original large mill in Schuyler, Virginia, and the quarry currently operated by the company (about 2 miles away).
The products currently produced at the plant include primarily slabs for counter tops and vanities, gauged pavers, flagstones and tiles for interior and exterior applications, and a variety of architectural and commercial specialty sizes. Associated sculptors also carve blocks on special order.
Four color and texture varieties of soapstone are produced. Alberene is a fine-grained, dark charcoal color stone that is very durable. Church Hill is a mottled variety of soapstone that contains residual amphibole. Climax is also a dark stone, but it contains veins of white calcite and some yellow siderite. Old
Dominion is a lighter gray variety with dark veins.
The soapstone occurs as tabular, concordant bodies in the Lynchburg Fm., as does associated serpentinite. These tabular bodies dip steeply to the southeast. The Lynchburg grades from a conglomeratic gneiss to a graphite schist. Most authors conclude that the soapstone bodies are metamorphosed and hydrothermally altered ultrabasic sills. An alternative theory founded upon the
apparently conformable field relationships is that the protoliths were ultrabasic lavas.
Sample collecting is ENCOURAGED, so bring rock hammer, sample bags, cameras
Cost: $30/person (checks or cash accepted at start of field trip, or at March 18 meeting.)
Provided: Box lunch with sodas, water, handout, and lotsa quarry time!
Must Bring/Wear: Mandatory hard-toed boots or shoes. Some hard hat and safety glasses available but bring your own so you can be styling.
Attendee Limit: 35
Box Lunch Choices:
Box lunches will consist of a sandwich, chips, pickle and cookie or brownie, with a beverage selection, including bottled water, provided by AEG-BWH. With your reservation, I need your choice of meat/vegetarian and bread:
Meat: Smoked Turkey — Roast Beef — Premium Ham — Chix Salad with Almonds and pineapple
Vegetarian: Spinach VeggieWrap: Organic wheat wrap stuffed with organic spinach, guacamole and pico, mushrooms and asiago.
Bread: White — Whole Grain Wheat — Rye
(Turkey on Whole Wheat is default if no choice made from list of above).
To reserve, please email Kris McCandless no later than Noon, Thursday, March 21, 2013 at email@example.com and give me MEAT and BREAD selections, or, VEGETARIAN
PRIMARY RENDEZVOUS POINT
Meet us in the parking lot between 9:45 and 10:15 am in the parking lot of the Stultz Center, Piedmont Community College, Charlottesville, VA.
We will gather everyone together and caravan down to the soapstone company where we will meet Peter Farley. We will leave no later than 10:15. If you are running late and do not make the rendezvous point, you may call either Steve or Kris’s cell phones for directions:
Steve Stokowski at 508-259-3536
Kris McCandless at 703-727-4374