Geology of Vermont
Belvidere Mountain, Eden and Lowell,
by M. Gale, 2000
Click here for a bedrock map of Belvidere Mtn and Tillotson Peak (3.0
mb pdf, Compilation 2007)
Gale, M.H., 1986, Geologic Map of the Belvidere Mountain Area, Eden
and Lowell, Vermont: USGS MIS map I-1560.
View to the southeast from the summit of Belvidere Mountain.
Map compiled from Bothner and Laird (1999), Cady et al (1963), Gale (1980, 1986), Kim (1997) and Schoonmaker (1997). |
Belvidere Mountain and Ritterbush
Above is a view to the southeast from
the summit (3360') of Belvidere Mountain in Lowell, Vermont. The view
from above the asbestos quarry is towards Hadley Mountain, Mt. Norris
and the Worcester Range. The area is characterized by a series of
northeast trending ridges and valleys. Belvidere Mountain and Hadley
Mountain are separated by the Burgess Branch of the Missisquoi River.
Topographic relief is 823 meters. The area is also a drainage divide
with the northern slopes of Belvidere Mountain draining north to the
Missisquoi River and the southern slopes draining south to the Lamoille
Judge M.E. Tucker found asbestos
in the area in 1899 (Marsters, 1905). In the 1960's, an average of 3500
tons of ore were mined daily (Hadden, 1996) with chrysotile asbestos
used in brake linings, roofing, shingles and pipe lining. Asbestos related
health issues and stringent environmental laws depressed the asbestos
market and the mine closed in 1993. The mountain continues to capture
the interest of mineral collectors, hikers on the Long
Trail, ecologists studying plant communities related to the high
magnesium, iron and calcium-rich rocks, scientists investigating ways
to store or "dispose" of excess carbon dioxide (CO2 sequestration) (see
Fig. 5), and others interested in the magnesium rich rocks. For regional
geologists, the area is interesting due to the occurrence of the ultramafic
rock within the ophiolite
belt of the northern Appalachians, its association with a variety
of metamorphosed mafic rocks, and the structural and metamorphic history.
(see Fig.6), the Vermont State Gem, is found at Belvidere Mountain along
with 40 or more other rock-forming minerals. For a complete list of
minerals (plus beautiful photographs) , history of the quarries, and health-related issues the reader
is referred to Hadden (1996) and Van Baalen and others (1999).
Active asbestos quarry in 1985. Photo is from VGS archives.
Quarry pond and buildings in 2004 (photo- S. Krevor, 2004)
Scientists sampling the waste piles (photo- S. Krevor, 2004)
Grossular garnet (photo- S. Krevor, 2004)
Waste pile and gullies (photo- S. Krevor, 2004)
Erosion of waste piles (photo- S. Krevor, 2004)
Chidester, Albee and Cady (1978) mapped the geology of the ultramafic
rocks and the quarries. They mapped dunite, peridotite, and massive serpentinite
surrounded by schistose serpentinite in the quarry. Asbestos * is present
as slip fiber and cross fiber.Layering is prevalent in the massive
rock. Talc-carbonate and quartz-carbonate rock were also mapped. Serpentinite and serpentinized ultramafic rock refer to the rock - serpentinized dunite, harzburgite and/or peridotitite. There are also Serpentine Group minerals and these include antigorite, lizardite and chrysotile. Some of these serpentine group minerals have a fibrous or asbestosform habit. The most common serpentine group mineral making up the serpentinized ultramafic rock in the quarry is antigorite. Chrysotile (the mined asbestos mineral at Belvidere Mtn.) is less common in the groundmass and tends to occur along fractures and slip planes. Actual minerals within each rock are difficult to identify without looking at a thin section or having an x-ray pattern.
Chidester et al reported modal analyses of 23 samples of dunite, serpentinite and schistose serpentinite. 5 samples reported chrysotile with modes ranging from <1 to 13.2. The large waste piles at Belvidere Mountain are the result of the low modal values of ore in the host rock. *(Asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring, fibrous silicate minerals mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength. Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, and in thermal insulation, fire proofing and other building materials. Many products in use today contain asbestos. From: US EPA web site)
and others (1982) and Stanley and others (1984) considered the ultramafic
rocks to be ophiolite fragments or fault slivers. Gale (1980, 1986)
mapped the area south of the summit, focusing on the metamorphosed
mafic rocks and defined several fault surfaces. She mapped the Belvidere
Mountain Complex which includes, from top to base, serpentinized ultramafic,
coarse-grained amphibolite and garnet amphibolite, fine- grained amphibolite,
greenstone, and muscovite schist (muscovite schist with small to large
rounded blocks of amphibolites and greenstones). The mafic rocks define
a tectonic stratigraphy underplated at the base of the serpentinite
and emplaced onto the albite gneiss of the Hazens Notch Formation. Click here for a
bedrock map of Belvidere Mtn and Tillotson Peak (3.0 mb pdf, Compilation
The Lowell Quarry, 2004
Towers at the Eden Quarry , 2004
Muscovite schist with clast of greenstone.
Clast is near the center of the photograph.
Outcrop of massive Belvidere Mountain
fine grained amphibolite exposed near the summit.
The Belvidere Mountain Amphibolite
was originally named by Keith and Bain (1932) for the amphibolite
on Belvidere Mountain. Albee (1957) mapped the greenstone south of
the mountain as part of the Belvidere Mountain Amphibolite at the
top of the Camels Hump Group, below and west of the Ottauquechee Formation.
The coarse grained amphibolite, exposed at the summit and above the
silos on the east flank of the mountain, is a dark gray, banded massive
rock composed of amphibole (barroisite cores, barroisite rims, (Laird,
1977) ), epidote and garnet with lesser amounts of albite, chlorite,
sphene, sericite, biotite and calcite. Calcite is present as aggregates
giving some outcrops a speckled appearance. Garnet occurs as pale
red or green porphyroblasts, depending on the amount of alteration
to chlorite. The parallelism of amphibole laths defines the dominant
lineation. The maximum thickness of the amphibolite, assuming 100%
repetition by folding, is 60 meters.
Belvidere Mountain greenstone (mafic schist) on Route 118.
The greenstone is a fine-grained, blue-green metamorphic rock with
albite porphyroblasts in relief on the weathered surface. The rock
is composed of amphibole, epidote, quartz, chlorite, albite, biotite,
sphene and opagues including pyrite and magnetite. Some chlorite
occurs as a pseudomorph of garnet. The unit includes albitic greenstone,
a schistose greenstone and a light and dark green banded greenstone
(exposed on Route 118). The textural variations in the rock do not
define separable map units and occur together within single outcrops.
The contact of the greenstone with
the coarse grained and fine grained amphibolites, the serpentinite,
and the pelitic schist/muscovite schist are fault contacts marked
by fault slivers and thin talc zones. The foliation in the greenstone
becomes more prevalent, pervasive and closely spaced at the contacts
with the serpentinite. The contact of the greenstone with the albite
gneiss and with schists of the Hazens Notch Formation is interpreted
as a fault contact.
11/8/08 - For information about assessment and mitigation efforts at the site, please visit the Waste Management Division web site. For information about EPA activities, visit the EPA web site.
For air photos of the mountain,
please see UVM's Vermont
Mining web site.
For additional photographs of Belvidere Mountain and the closed asbestos
mine, visit our photogallery 7.
Photographs of Minerals at Belvidere Mountain from the mindat.org
Some suggested references for the geology of Belvidere Mountain:
Albee, A.L., 1957, Bedrock geology of the
Hyde Park quadrangle, Vermont: U.S. Geological Survey Quadrangle
Map GQ-102, scale 1:62,500.
Cady, W.M., Albee, A.L., and Chidester,
A.H., 1963, Bedrock geology and asbestos deposits of the upper Missisquoi
Valley and Vicinity, Vermont: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1122-B,
Contributions to Economic Geology, 78 p.
Chidester, A.H., Albee, A.L., and Cady, W.M., 1978, Petrology, structure
and genesis of the asbestos-bearing ultramafic rocks of the Belvidere
Mountain area in Vermont: U.S. Geologic Survey Professional Paper
1016, 95 p.
Doll, C.G., Cady, W.M., Thompson, J.B., Jr., and Billings, M.P.,
1961, Centennial geologic map of Vermont: Vermont Geological Survey,
Doolan, B.L., Gale, M.H., Gale, P.N., and Hoar, R.S., 1982, Geology
of the Quebec re-entrant: Possible constraints from early rifts
and the Vermont-Quebec serpentine belt: in St. Julien, P. and Beland,
J., eds., Major structural zones and faults of the northern Appalachians:
Geol. Assoc. of Canada Spec. Paper 34, p. 87-115.
Gale, M.H., 1980, Geology of the Belvidere Mountain Complex, Eden
and Lowell, Vermont: Master of Science thesis, University of Vermont,
Burlington, Vermont, 169 p.
Gale, M.H., 1986, Geologic Map of the Belvidere Mountain Area, Eden
and Lowell, Vermont: U.S. Geological Survey Misc. Investigations
Series map I-1560.
Goff, F. and Lackner, K.S., 1998, Carbon dioxide sequestering using
ultramafic rocks: Environmental Sciences, vol. 5, no. 3, p. 89-100.
Keith, S.B. and Bain, G.W., 1932, Chrysotile asbestos: I, chrysotile
veins: Economic Geology, vol. 27, p. 169-188.
Kim, J., Gale, M., Laird, J. and Stanley, R., 1999, Lamoille River
Valley bedrock transect #2: in Guidebook to Field Trips in Vermont
and Adjacent Regions of New Hampshire and New York: 91st Annual
New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Meeting, Burlington,
Hadden, S.H., 1996, Minerals of the quarries of Lowell-Eden, Vermont:
Rocks and Minerals Magazine, vol. 71, no. 4, p. 236-246.
Laird, J., 1977, Phase equilibria in mafic schist and polymetamorphic
history of Vermont: Ph.D. thesis, California Inst. Tech., Pasedena,
Laird, J. and Albee, A.L., 1981, Pressure, temperature, and time
indicators in mafic schist: their application to reconstructing
the polymetamorphic history of Vermont: American Journal of Science,
v. 281, p. 127-175.
Laird, J., Trzcienski, W.E. and Bothner, W.A., 1993, High-pressure,
Taconian and subsequent polymetamorphism of southern Quebec and
northern Vermont: in Field Trip Guidebook for the Northeastern United
States: 1993 Boston GSA, v. 2, p 1-32, 1993 Geological Society of
America Annual Meeting and 85th Annual New England Intercollegiate
Geological Conference Meeting, Boston, MA.
Laird, J., Bothner, W.A., Thompson, P.J., Thompson, T., Gale, M., and Kim, J., 2001, Geochemistry, petrology, and structure of the Tillotson Peak and Belvidere Mountain mafic complexes, northern Vermont: NEGSA 36th Annual Meeting, Burlington, VT.
Hammerstrom, J., Gunter, M., Seal, R., Chou, I., and Piatak, N., 2008, Mineralogical Characterization of Tailings at the Vermont Asbestos Group Mine,
Belvidere Mountain, Northern Vermont: (Abs.) Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2008 Joint Annual Meeting, Houston, Texas.
Marsters, V.F., 1905, Petrography of the amphibolite, serpentine,
and associated asbestos deposits of Belvidere Mountain, Vermont:
Geol. Soc. America Bull., v. 16, p. 419-446.
Stanley, R.S., Roy, D.L., Hatch, N.L. Jr., and Knapp, D.A., 1984,
Evidence for the tectonic emplacement of the ultramafic and associated
rocks in the pre-Silurian eugeosynclinal belt of western new England-vestiges
of an ancient accretionary wedge: American Journal of Science, v.284,
Van Baalen, M., Francis, C., and Mossman, B., 1999, Mineralogy,
petrology and health issues at the ultramafic complex, Belvidere
Mountain, Vermont, USA: in Guidebook to Field Trips in Vermont and
Adjacent Regions of New Hampshire and New York: 91st Annual New
England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Meeting, Burlington,
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