Symbols | World
Books | Store | Blog
About | Contact

Vermont Earth Symbols

Vermont State MineralLeft to right: talc, Prosperity and Abundance (carved out of Vermont white granite) and grossular garnet.

Tiny Vermont may have gone overboard with its earth symbols. There are eight of them, including three rocks and two fossils.

Earth Symbols
Mineral talc 1991
Gem grossular garnet 1991
Rock granite 1992
Rock marble 1992
Rock slate 1992
Marine Fossil beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) 1993
Terrestrial Fossil † Mount Holly mammoth tooth and tusk 2014
Soil Tunbridge Soil Series 1985

In 1991, talc was designated Vermont’s official mineral, and grossular garnet was named the official gem.

Talc was chosen because Vermont was the second largest producer after California at that time. In addition, soapstone, which played an important role in Vermont’s growth, is composed primarily of talc.

Green in color and very soft, talc is a souvenir of ancient seas that is generally found in southwestern Vermont. It is used in the production of ceramics, paint, paper and many other things. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “Talc is a part of everyday life.”

The rationale for choosing grossular garnet is explained by the government of Vermont . . .

“Grossular garnet, the State Gem, is technically a mineral — a silicate, which is colored brown due to the presence of iron. Grossular garnet from the Belvidere Mine at Eden Mills is thought to be the finest specimen of its kind anywhere.” — Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session, 1993-1994, p. 25

In 1992, Vermont adopted three official rocks.

The legacy of ancient seas, marble can generally be found in southwestern Vermont. Much of it is extracted from the Imperial vein in Danby. The marble quarry in Danby is the world’s largest underground quarry, covering 20 acres.

Ranging in color from white to black, Vermont marble has been used in building Radio City Music Hall, the National Art Gallery, the Jefferson Memorial and the Vermont State Capitol.

Granite, marble and slate are considered equally important to Vermont’s economy, justifying their joint designation as the state’s official rocks.

While marble is composed of the remains of ancient marine organisms, granite is an igneous rock, devoid of fossils.

“Granite is an igneous rock found along the entire length of the eastern part of the state. It is mainly composed of feldspar, quartz and mica. The granite from Barre is world-famous, and the Westmore-Morse Quarry in Barre is the world’s largest monumental granite quarry. Vermont granite is exported to many states and countries for use as building stone and is prominent in the Vermont State Capitol.” — Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session, 1993-1994, p. 23

Vermont is the only state that claims slate as an official symbol.

“Slate is a metamorphic rock found in southwestern Vermont. It is formed by the compaction and heating of clay, silt or mud. Vermont slate varies in color from red, green, black and purple. Because it splits into thin slabs, slate is used for roofing shingles, sidewalks and floor tiles.” — Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session, 1993-1994, p. 23

Vermont State Rock

Fossil ˆ

Vermont State Fossil

Fossils are rare in New England, yet Vermont has two official fossils.

The original state fossil is the beluga (aka “white whale”), a species that’s still living. However, belugas haven’t lived in Vermont since the Ice Age.

This particular beluga is known as Charlotte for the town where it was discovered. The skeleton was found in a farmer’s field in 1849 during construction of a railroad between Rutland and Burlington.

Charlotte lived about 12,500 years ago when the Atlantic Ocean flooded the Champlain Basin, which was depressed below sea level by huge glacial ice sheets. The resulting Champlain Sea existed until about 9,000 years ago.

The Ice Age beluga was later redesignated the official state marine fossil in 2014 to make way for Vermont’s second official fossil. In 2014, the Mount Holly mammoth tooth and tusk were designated the official terrestrial fossil.

The remains were discovered in 1848 (a year before Charlotte’s discovery) at Mount Holly. The huge molar weighs nearly eight pounds.

Scientists believe the fossils were buried at the summit of the Green Mountains for more than 8,000 years. The adult mammoth probably stood more than eight feet tall and weighed close to two tons.

The Mount Holly fossil mammoth tooth and tusk are on display at the Mount Holly Community Historical Museum in Belmont Village, in Mount Holly.

Soil ˆ

Vermont’s official state soil is Tunbridge. Formed from the residue of Ice Age glaciers, it is a versatile soild that supports everything from forests to crops to the state’s famous maple syrup industry. Tunbridge soils are even found in many downhill ski areas, complementing Vermont’s official winter sports.

Vermont HomeState Earth Home