Mole Hill is a 48-million-year old volcanic neck just west of Harrisonburg, VA. It is one of a swarm of Eocene volcanic rocks found in the Shenandoah Valley as well as Pendleton and Highland Counties.
My students and I are working on three projects at Mole Hill:
1. Investigating the source(s) of sandstone xenoliths (or foreign pieces of rock) brought to the surface by the volcanic basalt of Mole Hill. This will help us understand the composition of the crust under the Shenandoah Valley.
2. Using the chemistry of mantle xenocrysts (or foreign crystals) to determine the temperature and depth of the mantle underneath the Shenandoah Valley.
3. Estimating the water concentration of the mantle by quantifying the amount of OH in the pyroxene and olivine mantle xenocrysts.
Mole Hill research in the news:
The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk newspaper):
Virginia is for... Volacnoes?
PBS NewsHour (online):
Ancient Volcano Holds Clues to Earth's Deeper Mysteries
The Daily News Record (Harrisonburg newspaper):
JMU Digs into a Volcano.