Paper No. 92
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


GUZMAN, Derek and JOHNSON, Elizabeth A., Dept of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807,

Trimble Knob is a hill formed by a basaltic Eocene neck located in Highland County, VA. It is one of a plethora of Eocene igneous bodies in the Valley and Ridge Province erupted between 48-35 Ma (Southworth 1993). The neck is 30 m in diameter and is located near the hinge of a SW-trending syncline along the contact between the Devonian Millboro Shale to the east and the Devonian Ridgeley Sandstone to the west. In this study, detailed field observations of the contact zone of the igneous body as well as petrographic observations are used to test two hypotheses: 1) Trimble Knob formed during a single eruption; 2) multiple eruptions occurred at Trimble Knob.

At the peak and on the western side of the exposed neck, poor- to moderately-developed columnar jointing is present. The basalt contains clinopyroxene and olivine phenocrysts in a fine-grained groundmass. The columnar basalt transitions to massive basalt along the southeast edge of the hilltop. A debris flow scarp has exposed the bedrock on the eastern slope of Trimble Knob. A transition zone of basalt with a hackly texture extends about 12 m down the eastern side of the neck and includes sparse angular black shale xenoliths several cm across. In thin sections, autolithic basalt fragments are cemented with carbonate minerals. Below the transition zone, a diatreme breccia containing rounded to subrounded xenoliths of shale, tan sandstone, and gray limestone is observed. In thin section, carbonate cement, clinopyroxene and olivine phenocrysts, and autobrecciated basalt clasts are observed. Based on field observations and petrographic characteristics, the diatreme xenoliths are identified as the Milboro Shale, the Ridgely Sandstone, and limestone from the Helderberg Group. The diatreme breccia was created by an explosive eruption that ripped out clasts of the country rock in a chaotic fashion. We propose that there was a single, two-stage eruption at Trimble Knob. An initial explosive eruption produced the diatreme, followed by a less violent flow of magma through the center of the plug.

  • Trimble Knob GSA (print 1 HQ).pdf (17.8 MB)