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Unakite, Virginia

Submit an Entry: My Metamorphic Rock

By labradorite

Unakite, Virginia

Colorful unakite

Where This Rock Is From (place, type of locality, etc.)

Although this type of rock is found at various locations throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, this specimen came from Rockbridge County, Virginia. It can also be found in Madison County, Page County, and in Shenandoah National Park.

What This Rock Is

This rock is called unakite. It is named after the Unaka Mountains in North Carolina where it was first found. 300 million to 400 million years ago, hot water containing dissolved iron and calcium trickled through ancient granite altering some of the feldspar into the green epidote. The orangish-pink mineral is potassium feldspar and gray is quartz. It may also contain small amounts of apatite, magnetite, and zircon.

What I Like About This Rock

The large colorful crystals of green epidote, and orangish-pink feldspar make unakite simple to identify. There is some controversy about its classification; some references say that it is a kind of granite but most place it in the metamorphic category due to the presence of epidote. It is easy to cut and polish making it very popular for decorative and ornamental objects such as beads, jewelry, and art pieces. It is also the unofficial rock of Virginia.


  • Unakite is fairly soft and easily weathered. It's probably not a great rock to use in decorating the your flowerbed. Large pieces of unakite are often available at rock shows.

Andrew Alden, About.com Geology, says:

Nice to see a "wild" specimen of this rock-shop staple.
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