Help solve this mineral mystery

A few days ago I came across a seventy-foot long outcropping of this red mineral with a shiny black surface. The shiny surface is no deeper than the thickness of a business card and the rough, rusty-looking material is rigid, but friable. It looks like a decomposed rock of some kind, but you can easily break it apart with your hands.

This outcropping was uncovered when Southern Heritage Homes in Rocky Mount, VA, decided to expand their parking lot by excavating a hillside next to their manufacturing plant. The excavation was completed without incident leaving a bank of red earth at the end of the day which looked no different than the usual clay soil of the region.

By the next morning, the face of the embankment had fallen away in spots exposing an irregular black surface with iridescent highlights, It appeared to be a glassy rock at first, but the reflective surface would disintegrate at the touch of a finger. There appear to be multiple layers of the reflective surface at different depths in the outcropping.

When I examined a large chunk of the material, it was fairly heavy like a brick, but the consistency was like Beaverboard, the insulating board that was once used in constructing walls. I thought it might be an ore of some kind, but I have no idea where to start looking for informtion on this mineral.

Has anyone seen anything like this? Does anyone have any idea what it might be?

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0 Responses to Help solve this mineral mystery

  1. My guess is that it is just simple shale.

    p.s. I really have been enjoying the photos 🙂

  2. Bronwyn says:

    Shiny black stuff in red, possibly iron-bearing rock? Could well be hematite ( Even if that’s not it, it probably has some iron in it somehow.

  3. RS says:

    This is a very well-designed blog, I think. I discoved it because it was on recently updated blogs on the firstpage of typepad.
    I like your presentation of yourself and why you write this blog. I like that very much.

  4. yoav says:

    are you sure this is a natural substanse?
    pls take care for it may be an industrial product.

  5. Linda says:

    Might it be mica?

  6. Courtney says:

    I came across your blog while trying to find out just what beaverboard is. I don’t usually ever comment on any blogs I do read (much less older entries), but saw the pictures and was reminded of my childhood in SC and NC digging in the dirt.

    From the pictures and description, there is no doubt in my mind that its mica. It also shows up in rocks, where it’s often not really flakey and sheet-like (although it can be), but more like small specks of glitter.

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