Official National Rock

As usual, Gail Collins has written a fine editorial today but for perhaps the first time she addresses a key issue to geologists: an official national rock. Here is what she wrote. “The United States has a few of these items, like a bird and an anthem, but there’s plenty of territory to cover. The president could demand that Congress pick an official national rock. Committees could hold hearings about the relative merits of slate and granite. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would threaten to filibuster unless his colleagues considered coal. But, in the end, I believe everybody would rally around a grand compromise for marble. And the country would feel much, much better.

Baby steps. Then we can get to the debt ceiling.”

Personally I favor limestone, at least from a building stone point of view. As I have written before, the Salem Limestone from Indiana is the most widely used building stone in the USA, particularly in official buildings such as court houses and post offices. It is rock that everyone would have the chance to see.

I could also see focusing on another favorite of mine, the Morton Gneiss. It, too, is widely used, plus it is part of the original craton of what is now the North American craton, thus an original American rock.

Or what about the puddingstone of Boston. One could compare it to the United States in that the puddingstone is a conglomerate made of diverse bits of pieces, which together give it its distinctive look.

In contrast, corporate interests might favor marble for its use in places of power, such as board rooms and elegant offices; salt, because of the salt domes rich in oil and gas; or shale and its new found prominence due to fracking.

Slate also can make a claim, at least an historic one. For many years, it as ubiquitous as plastic, finding use in billiard-table beds, steps and risers, wainscoting, moldings, lintels, laundry tubs, cisterns, urinals, blackboards, headstones, counter tops, brewer’s vats, greenhouse shelves, chimney tops, switch boards, and panels for electric work, to name just a handful of its many uses. It can also make a claim for the geologic term most used in our language. We wipe the slate clean or start over with a clean slate. We refer to a tabula rasa, literally a scraped tablet, but more often defined as a clean slate. We vote for one of a slate of candidates. We are slated to do something and those who had a debt were formerly said to be on the slate.

Any thoughts? And, should we have an Official National Stone?


4 thoughts on “Official National Rock”

  1. Basalt from Hawaii, since it comes very young. Every state likley has basalt either exposed or at depth.

  2. I was gonna second the basalt, having just been to Eastern Washington, but I’d be just as happy with Morton Gneiss.

  3. I can’t imagine how you could pick just one; there are just far too many beautiful, ubiquitous stones all over the country.

    And if we leave it to the government, they’ll favor some nasty-looking schist like Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the National Bird.

  4. Morton G or perhaps Dakota Mahogany since so much is used in DC how about Vermont I mperial Dannby, used in national cemeteries , I ndina limestone for historic buildings is best choice, Is it still used so much

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