Mica in Virginia

The early Europeans explorers were disappointed to realize that the shiny, glittering grains they saw in mineral samples were flakes of mica rather than gold. The mica had been formed with the igneous and metamorphic roots of the Appalachians and the Piedmont, and at times large sheets could be found.

John Lederer discovered some "Isinglas" (mica) in 1669 at the headwaters of the Pamunkey River:1

Here a little under the surface of the earth, I found flat pieces of petrified matter, of one side solid Stone, but on the other side Isinglas, which I easily peeled off in flakes about four inche square: several of these pieces, with a transparent Stone like Crystal that cut Glass, and a white Marchasite that I purchased of the Indians, I presented to Sir William Berkley Governour of Virginia."



1 Lederer, John, The Discoveries of John Lederer, translated by Sir William Talbot, Readex Microprint, 1966, p. 7

Minerals of Virginia
Virginia Geology
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