(Greenville County). Table Rock is a small mountain that rises dramatically above the surrounding landscape northwest of Greenville. It rises to 3,197 feet above sea level with a relatively broad summit shaped like a table, a characteristic that is said to have inspired the name given to it by Native Americans of the region long ago. Table Rock, located in the inner Piedmont belt, is just south of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Recreation Area, including Caesars Head and Jones Gap, both of which share a similar geologic history.
Like Caesars Head and Sassafras Mountain, Table Rock formed through the process of plate tectonics. Geologists believe that a continental fragment or island arc moved, as one plate slid under another, and then collided with ancient North America during the Ordovician period about 430 million years ago. The force of this collision generated heat and produced magma. This formed a large batholith miles underground that later cooled and hardened to form granite. Today the exposed rock of this batholith is found from Virginia to Alabama. During later collisions in the Devonian and Pennsylvanian to Permian periods, this granite was squeezed and reheated in a metamorphic process that turned the granite into a metagranite, or granitic gneiss. Over millions of years the land was uplifted, the ancient mountains eroded, and so the intrusive igneous rock of Table Rock was exposed at the surface.
At the base of Table Rock and visible along the trails at Table Rock State Park lies another interesting rock, amphibolite, which is metamorphic basalt derived from the ocean crust that was also emplaced during collision. These amphibolite schists and metavolcanics of the surrounding area have eroded faster than the harder metagranite of Table Rock, and so it has weathered to form an isolated hill called a monadnock.
Kovacik, Charles F., and John J. Winberry. South Carolina: The Making of a Landscape. 1987. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989.
Murphy, Carolyn H. Carolina Rocks! The Geology of South Carolina. Orange- burg, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1995.