Two hundred million years ago, there was a tremendous earthquake. The shale bedrock cracked and split apart and molten rock surged up from below to fill the gap. A piece of bedrock broke off and settled into the molten rock as it cooled. But it wasn’t absorbed. Its edges melted and pressed against the host rock. A crystalline layering resulted, a xenolith or “strange rock”, an unusual if not unique outcropping exposed at the surface.
But Nature wasn’t done creating the giant gemstone yet. The massive Wisconsin glacier that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age ground against and polished the stone over more than a hundred thousand years. The softer rock surrounding it was scraped away. About twelve thousand years ago, the great ice sheet retreated, and the water runoff further abraded the rock.
That rock is in our neighborhood, in that large empty lot off Forest Avenue, right across the street from Pep Boys. College students visit it regularly. Occasionally, geologists and hobbyists come from near and far to take some pictures and personally examine the unusual gift that Nature’s given us. Although similar rocks exist elsewhere, they only protrude to the surface at two known locations – one in South Africa and this one, right here in Staten Island!
The Mariners Harbor Civic Association has tirelessly pursued the city and state agencies that owned the land where the outcropping appears. After many attempts over a number of years, the government agencies have finally come together to grant the Parks Department a contiguous lot to develop into a park.
Some of the projects that we envision are:
1. Mass plantings of native plants and perennials, such as in Battery Park City
2. Polishing and enhancing the rare rock formation
3. Enhancing the walking paths with pebble rock
4. Brass plates identifying the rare rock formations
5. Signage that gives a narrative of how the rock was formed millions of years ago
6. Iron Gate with Rock pillars that will identify the opening to the park on Forest Avenue
7. Maybe a dinosaur or two to enhance the feel of a prehistoric park (That’s after we reach $1,000,000 mark)
Our success will be measured once we can all sit on a park bench, watch the children viewing the rare rock formations, smell the lilacs blooming, and RELAX in a gorgeous six acre park in Mariners Harbor!
The Friends of Graniteville Quarry is hosting a clean-up on Saturday, November 17th between 10 am and 2 pm. Dr. Alan Benimoff will be on site to give tours of the rare rock formation as well. Can you please provide contact information for the local troops on Staten Island. I think this would be a GREAT PROJECT FOR THE BOY SCOUTS to work on!
Friends of Graniteville Quarry