Geology and Topography of Tennessee

This gallery has photos of the geographical features and rock types in Tennessee (use with Teacher Resource page)
Image Number Image (Click to Enlarge)CaptionImage Viewed
1 This gallery is on the topography and geology of Tennessee. <em>Topography</em> refers to the landforms (mountains, valleys, plateaus, etc.); <em>geology</em> is the study of the types of rocks that the landforms contain. "Geo" means <em>earth</em> and...

This gallery is on the topography and geology of Tennessee. Topography refers to the landforms (mountains, valleys, plateaus, etc.); geology is the study of the types of rocks that the landforms contain. "Geo" means earth and...

This gallery is on the topography and geology of Tennessee. Topography refers to the landforms (mountains, valleys, plateaus, etc.); geology is the study of the types of rocks that the landforms contain. "Geo" means earth and "ology" means study of, so geology is the "study of the earth". Think of the state of Tennessee as a 500-mile geologic roller coaster, beginning in Memphis. The age of the rocks increases going from west to east. The types of rock change with the differences in land forms. West Tennessee is very flat, the land forms are called:Mississippi River Alluvial Floodplain and Gulf Coastal Plain. The grade begins the gradual incline until reaching the Tennessee River. Just east of the river the Western Highland Rim begins its' rolling terrain. After a short incline, the land drops down again into the Central Basin. It is here that our "ride" begins at the cedar glades of Cedars of Lebanon State Park, 30 miles east of Nashville. The soil in the cedar glades is very thin and in some places, non-existent. A great book to help learn about the geology of Tennessee is: A Geologic Trip across Tennessee by Interstate 40 by Harry L. Moore. If you are interested in getting deeper into the chemistry of the rocks, check out this website:link 2142
2 Cedar glades have many unique wildflowers, such as this Fameflower. It is amazing how these delicate little flowers can live in such harsh conditions.

Cedar glades have many unique wildflowers, such as this Fameflower. It is amazing how these delicate little flowers can live in such harsh conditions.

Cedar glades have many unique wildflowers, such as this Fameflower. It is amazing how these delicate little flowers can live in such harsh conditions. 1208
3 Not all of Cedars of Lebanon has flat sheets of limestone, this area of the park is honeycombed with caves and dotted with large limestone boulders.

Not all of Cedars of Lebanon has flat sheets of limestone, this area of the park is honeycombed with caves and dotted with large limestone boulders.

Not all of Cedars of Lebanon has flat sheets of limestone, this area of the park is honeycombed with caves and dotted with large limestone boulders. 1484
4 Limestone is slowly dissolved by the weak acids in rainwater, resulting in caves. Much of Tennessee is "hollow", riddled with numerous caverns of all sizes. Limestone landscape, called "karst" can also have sinkholes and depressions. One of the tests t...

Limestone is slowly dissolved by the weak acids in rainwater, resulting in caves. Much of Tennessee is "hollow", riddled with numerous caverns of all sizes. Limestone landscape, called "karst" can also have sinkholes and depressions. One of the tests t...

Limestone is slowly dissolved by the weak acids in rainwater, resulting in caves. Much of Tennessee is "hollow", riddled with numerous caverns of all sizes. Limestone landscape, called "karst" can also have sinkholes and depressions. One of the tests that geologists run on limestone is to put a drop or two of hydrochloric acid (HCl) on the rock, if it bubbles releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the calcium carbonate (CaCO3), the rock is limestone. 1563
5 The underground geology of east Tennessee is equally as interesting as the geology on the surface. Because this area was under a shallow sea hundreds of millions of years ago, there is a thick layer of limestone bedrock. This limestone was made from th...

The underground geology of east Tennessee is equally as interesting as the geology on the surface. Because this area was under a shallow sea hundreds of millions of years ago, there is a thick layer of limestone bedrock. This limestone was made from th...

The underground geology of east Tennessee is equally as interesting as the geology on the surface. Because this area was under a shallow sea hundreds of millions of years ago, there is a thick layer of limestone bedrock. This limestone was made from the shells of ancient sea creatures. Limestone is weathered by slightly acidic water that seeps through cracks in the rock layer. Over time caves develop, some "decorated" with spectacular formations made of calcium carbonate. Ground water can collect deep beneath the surface and reappear as springs. As can be seen in this diagram, it is important not to contaminate surface water as it can eventually end up in ground water. Many people depend on this ground water when they drill wells for drinking and home use. Sinkholes should not be used as "dumps" because that trash could also contaminate well water. 2344
6 A small, but interesting cave in west Knox County, TN is Cherokee Caverns. It is not open to the public except a couple of times a year. The day it was open for tours in July 2007, I jumped at the chance to go to get photos! As I approached the parking...

A small, but interesting cave in west Knox County, TN is Cherokee Caverns. It is not open to the public except a couple of times a year. The day it was open for tours in July 2007, I jumped at the chance to go to get photos! As I approached the parking...

A small, but interesting cave in west Knox County, TN is Cherokee Caverns. It is not open to the public except a couple of times a year. The day it was open for tours in July 2007, I jumped at the chance to go to get photos! As I approached the parking area near the caverns I saw 3 men talking, one of them was sitting on this large rock. I asked them if they knew where the stromatolites were. The guy on the rock said, "I wouldn't know one if I was sitting on it!" I glanced down at the rock, saw the striations and said, "Actually, you are sitting on one!" A Stromatolite is a fossil of ancient blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria. As the sticky algae grew, they trapped sand and other sediment and other layers would grow. The organisms grew quite large over hundreds of years. Over time they became fossilized. Since cyanobacteria are able to photosynthesize, scientists believe that these primative algae may have been responsible for putting the first oxygen into the Earth's atmosphere. Many of these fossils are over 3 billion years old! 1859
7 Note the layers of rock in this Stromatolite.

Note the layers of rock in this Stromatolite.

Note the layers of rock in this Stromatolite. 1730
8 These delicate <strong>Anthodite crystals</strong> were photographed in Cherokee Caverns in Knoxville. Like stalactites and stalagmites, these crystals are made up of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which precipitates from dissolved limestone. A helpful webs...

These delicate Anthodite crystals were photographed in Cherokee Caverns in Knoxville. Like stalactites and stalagmites, these crystals are made up of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which precipitates from dissolved limestone. A helpful webs...

These delicate Anthodite crystals were photographed in Cherokee Caverns in Knoxville. Like stalactites and stalagmites, these crystals are made up of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which precipitates from dissolved limestone. A helpful website for learning about "speleothems" (a fancy name for cave formations) is: cave link 1483
9 This <strong>Soda straw</strong> is a small, hollow stalactite that is growing molecule by molecule of CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) with each drop of water. As the slightly acidic  rainwater seeps through the limestone above the cave, it picks up calcium ...

This Soda straw is a small, hollow stalactite that is growing molecule by molecule of CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) with each drop of water. As the slightly acidic rainwater seeps through the limestone above the cave, it picks up calcium ...

This Soda straw is a small, hollow stalactite that is growing molecule by molecule of CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) with each drop of water. As the slightly acidic rainwater seeps through the limestone above the cave, it picks up calcium carbonate. When the water drips through the cave roof, it leaves behind small amounts of the mineral resulting in the soda straw. A wet cave is a "living" cave. 1116
10 This large patch of Soda straws glistens with drops of water.

This large patch of Soda straws glistens with drops of water.

This large patch of Soda straws glistens with drops of water. 1120
11 Unfortunately, some selfish, careless jerk broke off this <strong>stalactite</strong> a few years ago. It takes over 100 years for a cave formation to grow 1 cubic inch, so it will take thousands of years to grow back to its original size. It is easy t...

Unfortunately, some selfish, careless jerk broke off this stalactite a few years ago. It takes over 100 years for a cave formation to grow 1 cubic inch, so it will take thousands of years to grow back to its original size. It is easy t...

Unfortunately, some selfish, careless jerk broke off this stalactite a few years ago. It takes over 100 years for a cave formation to grow 1 cubic inch, so it will take thousands of years to grow back to its original size. It is easy to see the white core of the stalactite. The way to remember the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite is to think that a stalactite must hang tight to the celing; a stalagmite might one day reach the ceiling. 1207
12 These multicolored Stalactites show the many hues of the minerals from the rock and soils above. The rusty, reddish-orange comes from the iron oxide found in our famous TN red clay soil!

These multicolored Stalactites show the many hues of the minerals from the rock and soils above. The rusty, reddish-orange comes from the iron oxide found in our famous TN red clay soil!

These multicolored Stalactites show the many hues of the minerals from the rock and soils above. The rusty, reddish-orange comes from the iron oxide found in our famous TN red clay soil! 1100
13 This Cave formation is called "bacon", another form of CaCO3.

This Cave formation is called "bacon", another form of CaCO3.

This Cave formation is called "bacon", another form of CaCO3. 1022
14 Cave Flowstone forms when water flows out of a crack in the cave walls and deposits CaCO3.

Cave Flowstone forms when water flows out of a crack in the cave walls and deposits CaCO3.

Cave Flowstone forms when water flows out of a crack in the cave walls and deposits CaCO3. 1035
15 This is the most famous flowstone formation in Cherokee Caverns called the "Capitol Dome".

This is the most famous flowstone formation in Cherokee Caverns called the "Capitol Dome".

This is the most famous flowstone formation in Cherokee Caverns called the "Capitol Dome". 1047
16 This is a section of pretty columns and a stalagmite in Cherokee Caverns. Usually a stalagmite forms on the floor beneath a stalactite which hangs from the ceiling. If they are undisturbed over thousands of years, they may join to form a solid column. ...

This is a section of pretty columns and a stalagmite in Cherokee Caverns. Usually a stalagmite forms on the floor beneath a stalactite which hangs from the ceiling. If they are undisturbed over thousands of years, they may join to form a solid column. ...

This is a section of pretty columns and a stalagmite in Cherokee Caverns. Usually a stalagmite forms on the floor beneath a stalactite which hangs from the ceiling. If they are undisturbed over thousands of years, they may join to form a solid column. Sadly, during the 1980's vandals entered the cave and broke (and in some cases shot) many of the beautiful formations. A few times motorcycle gangs rode their cycles through the cave, burned tires, and killed numerous bats. Fortunately, the cave is now gated, locked, and protected from such awful people! Bats are being reintroduced into the cave and now number around 300. 999
17 <strong>Helictites</strong> are bizarre formations that seem to defy the laws of gravity. Note the strange horizontal growths coming out of some of the stalactites. The bright white dots are the reflections from water dripping from the stalactites.

Helictites are bizarre formations that seem to defy the laws of gravity. Note the strange horizontal growths coming out of some of the stalactites. The bright white dots are the reflections from water dripping from the stalactites.

Helictites are bizarre formations that seem to defy the laws of gravity. Note the strange horizontal growths coming out of some of the stalactites. The bright white dots are the reflections from water dripping from the stalactites. 1093
18 Cave Popcorn

Cave Popcorn

Cave Popcorn 921
19 Since limestone is made of the remains of ancient sea creatures, it is not unusual to find fossils like this cephalopod  and spiral gastropod. This type of limestone is considered <em>fossiliferous</em>. It is hard to believe that the part of the count...

Since limestone is made of the remains of ancient sea creatures, it is not unusual to find fossils like this cephalopod and spiral gastropod. This type of limestone is considered fossiliferous. It is hard to believe that the part of the count...

Since limestone is made of the remains of ancient sea creatures, it is not unusual to find fossils like this cephalopod and spiral gastropod. This type of limestone is considered fossiliferous. It is hard to believe that the part of the country that is now Tennessee could have ever been underwater, but the rocks and fossils help tell a fascinating story of our ancient past. Limestone rocks at Cedars of Lebanon date back to the Ordovician period, 500 million years ago. 1422
20 <strong>Burgess Falls State Park</strong> is located in Putnam and White counties (near Cookeville), on the western edge of the Eastern Highland Rim. The hike to Burgess Falls follows the Falling Water River. This beautiful set of cascades is called Fi...

Burgess Falls State Park is located in Putnam and White counties (near Cookeville), on the western edge of the Eastern Highland Rim. The hike to Burgess Falls follows the Falling Water River. This beautiful set of cascades is called Fi...

Burgess Falls State Park is located in Putnam and White counties (near Cookeville), on the western edge of the Eastern Highland Rim. The hike to Burgess Falls follows the Falling Water River. This beautiful set of cascades is called First Falls, the first of the increasing larger waterfalls. The rock in this park is made up of 2 different kinds of limestone and 2 kinds of shale. The sedimentary rocks of the Cumberland Plateau are shoreline sediments that date back to the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian ages. The silt, sand and pebbles originated in the Appalachian mountains and were eventually washed down to the lower elevations of an ancient coast. 1148
21 This is a layer of rock (probably shale) that can be seen on the trail to the bottom of the falls.

This is a layer of rock (probably shale) that can be seen on the trail to the bottom of the falls.

This is a layer of rock (probably shale) that can be seen on the trail to the bottom of the falls. 1078
22 The spectacular <strong>Burgess Falls</strong> is 130 feet high. The falling water slowly erodes the rock at the top and base of the falls. Burgess Falls is located on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, called the Highland Rim.

The spectacular Burgess Falls is 130 feet high. The falling water slowly erodes the rock at the top and base of the falls. Burgess Falls is located on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, called the Highland Rim.

The spectacular Burgess Falls is 130 feet high. The falling water slowly erodes the rock at the top and base of the falls. Burgess Falls is located on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, called the Highland Rim. 1150
23 Much of the Cumberland Plateau is composed of sandstone. The stone breaks into flat sheets. The sandstone is commonly used as a beautiful building material in buildings on the plateau.

Much of the Cumberland Plateau is composed of sandstone. The stone breaks into flat sheets. The sandstone is commonly used as a beautiful building material in buildings on the plateau.

Much of the Cumberland Plateau is composed of sandstone. The stone breaks into flat sheets. The sandstone is commonly used as a beautiful building material in buildings on the plateau. 1131
24 This lovely sandstone slab was part of a bench along a trail at the Ocoee Outdoor Center. The pink, brown, and orange colors come from minerals mixed with the sand, such as iron oxide (a.k.a. "rust").

This lovely sandstone slab was part of a bench along a trail at the Ocoee Outdoor Center. The pink, brown, and orange colors come from minerals mixed with the sand, such as iron oxide (a.k.a. "rust").

This lovely sandstone slab was part of a bench along a trail at the Ocoee Outdoor Center. The pink, brown, and orange colors come from minerals mixed with the sand, such as iron oxide (a.k.a. "rust"). 969
25 Traveling farther east we go farther up the Cumberland Plateau to Bledsoe and Van Buren counties to <strong>Fall Creek Falls State Park</strong>, located 18 miles west of Pikeville, TN and 11 miles east of Spencer, TN.  The park has numerous spectacula...

Traveling farther east we go farther up the Cumberland Plateau to Bledsoe and Van Buren counties to Fall Creek Falls State Park, located 18 miles west of Pikeville, TN and 11 miles east of Spencer, TN. The park has numerous spectacula...

Traveling farther east we go farther up the Cumberland Plateau to Bledsoe and Van Buren counties to Fall Creek Falls State Park, located 18 miles west of Pikeville, TN and 11 miles east of Spencer, TN. The park has numerous spectacular waterfalls that plunge over the thick sandstone. The namesake, Fall Creek falls plunges 256 feet over the gorge. If we could travel back 325 million years ago, this sand would have been a beach. 1599
26 This beautiful "accordion-pleat" canyon has been cut by the many streams at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Much like the Grand Canyon, it has taken eons for the water to erode through the thick layers of sandstone.

This beautiful "accordion-pleat" canyon has been cut by the many streams at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Much like the Grand Canyon, it has taken eons for the water to erode through the thick layers of sandstone.

This beautiful "accordion-pleat" canyon has been cut by the many streams at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Much like the Grand Canyon, it has taken eons for the water to erode through the thick layers of sandstone. 1196
27 Sandstone often erodes into interesting shapes like this Giant's Foot near the edge of a cliff at Fall Creek Falls.

Sandstone often erodes into interesting shapes like this Giant's Foot near the edge of a cliff at Fall Creek Falls.

Sandstone often erodes into interesting shapes like this Giant's Foot near the edge of a cliff at Fall Creek Falls. 1208
28 The trees and Mountain Laurel seem ready to tumble over this cliff at Fall Creek Falls. There is a waterfall near the cliff called Cane Creek Falls.

The trees and Mountain Laurel seem ready to tumble over this cliff at Fall Creek Falls. There is a waterfall near the cliff called Cane Creek Falls.

The trees and Mountain Laurel seem ready to tumble over this cliff at Fall Creek Falls. There is a waterfall near the cliff called Cane Creek Falls. 1050
29 This Quarry in Crab Orchard crushes limestone for gravel and cement.

This Quarry in Crab Orchard crushes limestone for gravel and cement.

This Quarry in Crab Orchard crushes limestone for gravel and cement. 1279
30 <strong>Upper Piney Falls</strong> is located in the Piney Falls State Natural Area on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Grandview, TN. It plunges 80 feet over the sandstone and shale cliff. The flowing water at the top and the relentless  ...

Upper Piney Falls is located in the Piney Falls State Natural Area on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Grandview, TN. It plunges 80 feet over the sandstone and shale cliff. The flowing water at the top and the relentless ...

Upper Piney Falls is located in the Piney Falls State Natural Area on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Grandview, TN. It plunges 80 feet over the sandstone and shale cliff. The flowing water at the top and the relentless pounding of the water below the falls causes the rock to slowly be worn away. The cliff has become much like an amphitheater over time. As long as the water flows, the cliff will continue to retreat up stream. 1057
31 The trail goes behind Upper Piney Falls. There is a distinct layer where the sandstone meets the shale. Both of these kinds of rock are sedimentary, meaning they are made from smaller rocks that have been compressed and solidified over time. Sandstone ...

The trail goes behind Upper Piney Falls. There is a distinct layer where the sandstone meets the shale. Both of these kinds of rock are sedimentary, meaning they are made from smaller rocks that have been compressed and solidified over time. Sandstone ...

The trail goes behind Upper Piney Falls. There is a distinct layer where the sandstone meets the shale. Both of these kinds of rock are sedimentary, meaning they are made from smaller rocks that have been compressed and solidified over time. Sandstone is made of layers of tiny grains of sand. Shale is made solidified mud, it is much more fine-grained than sandstone. It is common to find fossils of Equisetum, an ancient swamp plant related to today's Horsetails, in the shale beneath the falls. 920
32 Not far downstream from Upper Piney Falls the river drops again at the <strong>Lower Piney Falls</strong>. Note the large flat slabs of sandstone below the waterfall.

Not far downstream from Upper Piney Falls the river drops again at the Lower Piney Falls. Note the large flat slabs of sandstone below the waterfall.

Not far downstream from Upper Piney Falls the river drops again at the Lower Piney Falls. Note the large flat slabs of sandstone below the waterfall. 866
33 This photo was taken from the top of the fire tower just above the Piney Falls parking area, it shows the deep sandstone gorge that contains the Upper and Lower Piney Falls. If heights don't freak you out, the tower provides one of the best views in th...

This photo was taken from the top of the fire tower just above the Piney Falls parking area, it shows the deep sandstone gorge that contains the Upper and Lower Piney Falls. If heights don't freak you out, the tower provides one of the best views in th...

This photo was taken from the top of the fire tower just above the Piney Falls parking area, it shows the deep sandstone gorge that contains the Upper and Lower Piney Falls. If heights don't freak you out, the tower provides one of the best views in the area. The mountains in the distance are the Cumberland Mountains. Looking to the southeast from the tower, it is possible to see the Sequatchee Valley and the Smokies on a clear day. 924
34 Much of the rock in east Tennessee contains seams of <em><strong>bituminous</strong></em> coal. Contrary to what some people may believe, Tennessee coal is <u>not</u> made of the remains of dead dinosaurs! Coal in the Appalachians is made from the carb...

Much of the rock in east Tennessee contains seams of bituminous coal. Contrary to what some people may believe, Tennessee coal is not made of the remains of dead dinosaurs! Coal in the Appalachians is made from the carb...

Much of the rock in east Tennessee contains seams of bituminous coal. Contrary to what some people may believe, Tennessee coal is not made of the remains of dead dinosaurs! Coal in the Appalachians is made from the carbon-containing remains of swamp plants such as tree ferns, Equisetum, and Lepidodendron, dinosaurs would not be in the picture for another 100 million years. So, anywhere coal is found in Tennessee, that area would have been a swamp during the Pennsylvanian era over 200 million years ago. Dinosaur footprints have been found it the roof surfaces of some coal mines in Utah. Coal is usually covered with a layer of shale or sandstone, thus it has to be mined under those layers. There are 4 types of coal: 1. Peat - porous and brown 2. Lignite - a black and crumbly coal 3. Bituminous - dull or shiny, sooty, may have layers. This is a "dirty burning" coal, it releases sulphur compounds when burned which contribute to acid rain. Bituminous coal is found in the Appalachian mountains. 4. Anthracite - this is a much harder coal, very shiny and black; it is a cleaner burning coal (not found in Tennessee). It is considered a metamorphic rock because it was subjected to tremendous pressure and heat underground long ago. It is found in the Pennsylvania area of the Appalachian mountain chain. Many peaks in the Cumberland Mountains have been "decapitated" by strip mining of coal. Mining companies have attempted to reclaim the land, but the mountains will never be the same. The soil is often contaminated by acids and metal ores in the mine tailings and overburden. Buffalo Mountain, one "reclaimed" (I question that word) mountain, near Frozen Head State Park, has 18 wind turbines operated by the TVA to provide "green power". 1385
35 I snapped this photo of a <strong>Coal seam</strong> along  I-40 above Rockwood from the car as we zipped along at 65 mph. It is easy to see the different layers of sandstone and coal in the rockwall.

I snapped this photo of a Coal seam along I-40 above Rockwood from the car as we zipped along at 65 mph. It is easy to see the different layers of sandstone and coal in the rockwall.

I snapped this photo of a Coal seam along I-40 above Rockwood from the car as we zipped along at 65 mph. It is easy to see the different layers of sandstone and coal in the rockwall. 1351
36 You probably wouldn't expect to see oil wells in Tennessee like this one in Allardt, but they are common on the northern part of the Cumberland Plateau. Like coal, oil formed from plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago.

You probably wouldn't expect to see oil wells in Tennessee like this one in Allardt, but they are common on the northern part of the Cumberland Plateau. Like coal, oil formed from plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago.

You probably wouldn't expect to see oil wells in Tennessee like this one in Allardt, but they are common on the northern part of the Cumberland Plateau. Like coal, oil formed from plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago. 969
37 When good oil wells go bad! This catastrophic oil well fire occurred in Oliver Springs, TN in mid-March 2008.  Smoke from the fire could be seen for many miles. An oil well firefighting team from Texas was brought in to try to extinguish it.

When good oil wells go bad! This catastrophic oil well fire occurred in Oliver Springs, TN in mid-March 2008. Smoke from the fire could be seen for many miles. An oil well firefighting team from Texas was brought in to try to extinguish it.

When good oil wells go bad! This catastrophic oil well fire occurred in Oliver Springs, TN in mid-March 2008. Smoke from the fire could be seen for many miles. An oil well firefighting team from Texas was brought in to try to extinguish it. 886
38 A closer view of the Oliver Springs, TN oil well fire. The white substance at the bottom of the flames is water that was being sprayed on the fire. This was the second oil well fire in Morgan County in 2 years. Fires such as this and the resulting spil...

A closer view of the Oliver Springs, TN oil well fire. The white substance at the bottom of the flames is water that was being sprayed on the fire. This was the second oil well fire in Morgan County in 2 years. Fires such as this and the resulting spil...

A closer view of the Oliver Springs, TN oil well fire. The white substance at the bottom of the flames is water that was being sprayed on the fire. This was the second oil well fire in Morgan County in 2 years. Fires such as this and the resulting spills are an ecological disaster for the area. It was sickening to see the black smoke bellowing from the fire, this certainly won't do our air and water quality any good! 1018
39 The <strong>Cumberland Mountains</strong> are found at the eastern edge of the section of the state called the <em>Valley and Ridge</em>. Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Dayton, and Chattanooga are all located in this valley. This photo was taken at Cove Lake St...

The Cumberland Mountains are found at the eastern edge of the section of the state called the Valley and Ridge. Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Dayton, and Chattanooga are all located in this valley. This photo was taken at Cove Lake St...

The Cumberland Mountains are found at the eastern edge of the section of the state called the Valley and Ridge. Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Dayton, and Chattanooga are all located in this valley. This photo was taken at Cove Lake State Park in Caryville. The lake is part of Norris Lake. Other than Reelfoot Lake in west Tennessee, there are no large, natural lakes in the state. There is a joke in Tennessee that all we have in our state are "dammed" lakes! :) 1039
40 On a walk along the trails at Haw Ridge you’ll see lots of limestone outcroppings that contain fossils of ancient sea animals. Look closely at this photo, you’ll see some nice <em>brachiopod</em> fossils. Limestone is an indicator that an area was on...

On a walk along the trails at Haw Ridge youll see lots of limestone outcroppings that contain fossils of ancient sea animals. Look closely at this photo, youll see some nice brachiopod fossils. Limestone is an indicator that an area was on...

On a walk along the trails at Haw Ridge youll see lots of limestone outcroppings that contain fossils of ancient sea animals. Look closely at this photo, youll see some nice brachiopod fossils. Limestone is an indicator that an area was once under an ocean. Limestone was formed from seashells that settled to the ocean floor. Over long periods of time and pressure the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the seashells was transformed into limestone. Geologists test limestone by putting drops of hydrochloric acid on it; if it bubbles, the rock is limestone. The hydrochloric acid reacts with the calcium carbonate and releases carbon dioxide gas (CO2). 1636
41 This rock has large brachiopod fossils. The limestone in the Oak Ridge area also has fossils of bryozoans, corals, crinoids, and even a few trilobites. Many of the fossils in this area date back 400 million years. I once went to a Geology workshop in t...

This rock has large brachiopod fossils. The limestone in the Oak Ridge area also has fossils of bryozoans, corals, crinoids, and even a few trilobites. Many of the fossils in this area date back 400 million years. I once went to a Geology workshop in t...

This rock has large brachiopod fossils. The limestone in the Oak Ridge area also has fossils of bryozoans, corals, crinoids, and even a few trilobites. Many of the fossils in this area date back 400 million years. I once went to a Geology workshop in the Smokies. I asked if there was an easy way to remember the geologic time periods. One of the participants quickly rattled off the nmemonic, "Can Oscar See Down My Pants Pocket? Tom Jones Can. That's Quirky!" (Well, he didn't say "quirky", but the other "q" word is not politically correct!) This is a convenient way to remember: Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, Quaternary. The dinosaurs lived during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods 230 to 65 million years ago. See this link for a good explanation of geologic time. 1298
42 <strong>Chert</strong> is a hard type of sedimentary rock that is very common in Oak Ridge. It is made of microcrystalline silicon dioxide (SiO2). See <a href="http://geology.com/rocks/chert.shtml">Geology.com</a> for more information.

Chert is a hard type of sedimentary rock that is very common in Oak Ridge. It is made of microcrystalline silicon dioxide (SiO2). See Geology.com for more information.

Chert is a hard type of sedimentary rock that is very common in Oak Ridge. It is made of microcrystalline silicon dioxide (SiO2). See Geology.com for more information. 1641
43 During the drought of 2007 we went to Piney Falls to see them with no water. I found these Horsetail Fossils in the rocks at the base of the falls. Normally there is too much water and spray to be able to take pictures there. 
These ancient plants wer...

During the drought of 2007 we went to Piney Falls to see them with no water. I found these Horsetail Fossils in the rocks at the base of the falls. Normally there is too much water and spray to be able to take pictures there. These ancient plants wer...

During the drought of 2007 we went to Piney Falls to see them with no water. I found these Horsetail Fossils in the rocks at the base of the falls. Normally there is too much water and spray to be able to take pictures there. These ancient plants were the distant relatives of today's Horsetails (Equisetum), also known as scouring rushes. They grew in this area long before the dinosaurs lived. 1265
44 I'm not 100% sure about these marks in the shale, but my educated guess is that they are probably <strong>Fossilized worm tracks</strong> from hundreds of millions of years ago. When the ancient worms crawled through the mud tunnels were left behind, o...

I'm not 100% sure about these marks in the shale, but my educated guess is that they are probably Fossilized worm tracks from hundreds of millions of years ago. When the ancient worms crawled through the mud tunnels were left behind, o...

I'm not 100% sure about these marks in the shale, but my educated guess is that they are probably Fossilized worm tracks from hundreds of millions of years ago. When the ancient worms crawled through the mud tunnels were left behind, over time they became fossilized when the mud dried and slowly became stone. I noticed this rock when we stopped at a boat ramp that was left high and dry at Cherokee Lake in Bean Station, TN. The lake level was about 40 feet below normal. 1120
45 Driving north on I-75 you’ll see the conglomerate / sandstone rock outcroppings of the <strong>Devil’s Racetrack</strong>. A hike up a section of the Cumberland Trail will take you to the top and a fantastic view of Cove Lake State Park, the Cumberla...

Driving north on I-75 youll see the conglomerate / sandstone rock outcroppings of the Devils Racetrack. A hike up a section of the Cumberland Trail will take you to the top and a fantastic view of Cove Lake State Park, the Cumberla...

Driving north on I-75 youll see the conglomerate / sandstone rock outcroppings of the Devils Racetrack. A hike up a section of the Cumberland Trail will take you to the top and a fantastic view of Cove Lake State Park, the Cumberland Mountains and the interstate. 955
46 A short, but steep hike will take you to the top of the Devil’s Racetrack. The view of the Cumberland Mountains, Cove Lake State Park, the valley, and the interstate is breathtaking. Look closely at the large rock in the foreground and you’ll see sma...

A short, but steep hike will take you to the top of the Devils Racetrack. The view of the Cumberland Mountains, Cove Lake State Park, the valley, and the interstate is breathtaking. Look closely at the large rock in the foreground and youll see sma...

A short, but steep hike will take you to the top of the Devils Racetrack. The view of the Cumberland Mountains, Cove Lake State Park, the valley, and the interstate is breathtaking. Look closely at the large rock in the foreground and youll see small, white, round quartz pebbles. This indicates that the sandstone was located near a riverbed millions of years ago. 1093
47 Everyone who visits the <strong>Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area</strong> should make the short side trip to enjoy this lovely view of the Cumberland River gorge at the Overlook. For millions of years the river has cut through the sand...

Everyone who visits the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area should make the short side trip to enjoy this lovely view of the Cumberland River gorge at the Overlook. For millions of years the river has cut through the sand...

Everyone who visits the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area should make the short side trip to enjoy this lovely view of the Cumberland River gorge at the Overlook. For millions of years the river has cut through the sandstone. 882
48 Sandstone rock houses are common along the cliffs on the Cumberland Plateau. Some, like this one, are quite large and offer a safe retreat from the frequent summer thunderstorms.

Sandstone rock houses are common along the cliffs on the Cumberland Plateau. Some, like this one, are quite large and offer a safe retreat from the frequent summer thunderstorms.

Sandstone rock houses are common along the cliffs on the Cumberland Plateau. Some, like this one, are quite large and offer a safe retreat from the frequent summer thunderstorms. 1105
49 The 3-mile hike to the <strong>Angel Falls Overlook</strong> is worth the effort, the views are fantastic! The soil at the top of the cliff is very sandy from erosion of the sandstone. Who knows, maybe someday the sand will become sandstone again far o...

The 3-mile hike to the Angel Falls Overlook is worth the effort, the views are fantastic! The soil at the top of the cliff is very sandy from erosion of the sandstone. Who knows, maybe someday the sand will become sandstone again far o...

The 3-mile hike to the Angel Falls Overlook is worth the effort, the views are fantastic! The soil at the top of the cliff is very sandy from erosion of the sandstone. Who knows, maybe someday the sand will become sandstone again far off in the future! 1047
50 This <strong>Icicle</strong> growing out of a crack in a sandstone boulder shows how ice can break rock. One day this boulder will crumble into smaller rocks which will eventually turn back into sand to start the cycle all over again!

This Icicle growing out of a crack in a sandstone boulder shows how ice can break rock. One day this boulder will crumble into smaller rocks which will eventually turn back into sand to start the cycle all over again!

This Icicle growing out of a crack in a sandstone boulder shows how ice can break rock. One day this boulder will crumble into smaller rocks which will eventually turn back into sand to start the cycle all over again! 849
51 This photo shows the heaving action of ice in soil. When the water in soil freezes it expands and can force the rocks and soil upward onto little pillars of ice. The constant freezing and thawing throughout the winter helps to break the rock down even ...

This photo shows the heaving action of ice in soil. When the water in soil freezes it expands and can force the rocks and soil upward onto little pillars of ice. The constant freezing and thawing throughout the winter helps to break the rock down even ...

This photo shows the heaving action of ice in soil. When the water in soil freezes it expands and can force the rocks and soil upward onto little pillars of ice. The constant freezing and thawing throughout the winter helps to break the rock down even more, adding to soil formation. Soil Critters Only those who know the most about the land can appreciate how little we know about it. The last work in ignorance is the one who says of an animal or plant: What good is it? If the land mechanism as a whole is good then everything is good whether we understand it or not. --- Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) There is an incredible amount of life under our feet! In a study done on a sample of soil 1 square foot and 8 inches deep the following animals and organisms were found: 26.5 trillion cocci bacteria 18.5 trillion bacilli bacteria 4.3 trillion nitrogen-fixing bacteria 880 billion fungus mycelia 320 yeast cells 6315 mites of various species 1977 springtails 63 insect larvae 47 ants 43 telsontails 36 false scorpions 29 garden centipedes 28 insects 27 millipedes 12 pauropods 10 other centipedes 6 earthworms From The Soil, by Ellwood J. Carr 1018
52 This cliff at the Big South Fork is made of sandstone, note the pockmarked erosion of the stone.

This cliff at the Big South Fork is made of sandstone, note the pockmarked erosion of the stone.

This cliff at the Big South Fork is made of sandstone, note the pockmarked erosion of the stone. 909
53 <strong>Maude's Crack</strong>, at Big South Fork, is an easy way to get down from the top of the cliff. It looks difficult from the bottom, but it beats having to rappel over the side using a rope. This gives you an idea of how thick some of the sands...

Maude's Crack, at Big South Fork, is an easy way to get down from the top of the cliff. It looks difficult from the bottom, but it beats having to rappel over the side using a rope. This gives you an idea of how thick some of the sands...

Maude's Crack, at Big South Fork, is an easy way to get down from the top of the cliff. It looks difficult from the bottom, but it beats having to rappel over the side using a rope. This gives you an idea of how thick some of the sandstone layers can be on the Cumberland Plateau. It is still a long way to No Business Creek at the bottom of the gorge. (see the Big South Fork gallery for more photos) 941
54 The sandstone at the base of Maude’s Crack has veins of <strong>conglomerate rock</strong> mixed in with the sandstone. These little round quartz pebbles were once tumbled along a river bottom. The quartz came from the distant Appalachian mountains. T...

The sandstone at the base of Maudes Crack has veins of conglomerate rock mixed in with the sandstone. These little round quartz pebbles were once tumbled along a river bottom. The quartz came from the distant Appalachian mountains. T...

The sandstone at the base of Maudes Crack has veins of conglomerate rock mixed in with the sandstone. These little round quartz pebbles were once tumbled along a river bottom. The quartz came from the distant Appalachian mountains. This type of sedimentary rock is called terrigenous, meaning it was formed from the weathering of prexisting rocks (white quartz, in this case) and transported to another area. Conglomerate rocks contain three "ingredients": 1. Clasts - these are the larger, easily visible pieces, such as the larger grains of sand and the pebbles 2. Matrix - this is the smaller sediment around the pebbles 3. Cement - this is the substance that holds the matrix and clasts together, a type of mineral "glue", it can be silica, iron oxide, or calcite. Conglomerate rocks has clasts of rounded pebbles, breccia has clasts of broken, angular rocks. 888
55 I found this broken piece of Conglomerate rock along the trail at Colditz Cove State Natural Area. Note the quartz pebbles embedded in the rock. There are holes where some of the pebbles have been dislodged.

I found this broken piece of Conglomerate rock along the trail at Colditz Cove State Natural Area. Note the quartz pebbles embedded in the rock. There are holes where some of the pebbles have been dislodged.

I found this broken piece of Conglomerate rock along the trail at Colditz Cove State Natural Area. Note the quartz pebbles embedded in the rock. There are holes where some of the pebbles have been dislodged. 2353
56 This <strong>breccia</strong> has lots of angular white quartz pebbles. The difference between breccia and conglomerate is the shape of the "clasts", or larger rocks. Conglomerate has rounded pebbles, breccia has sharper, angular gravels. This type of ...

This breccia has lots of angular white quartz pebbles. The difference between breccia and conglomerate is the shape of the "clasts", or larger rocks. Conglomerate has rounded pebbles, breccia has sharper, angular gravels. This type of ...

This breccia has lots of angular white quartz pebbles. The difference between breccia and conglomerate is the shape of the "clasts", or larger rocks. Conglomerate has rounded pebbles, breccia has sharper, angular gravels. This type of sedimentary rock is common in the Appalachians. I found this one along the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee. 1245
57 This odd sandstone was also found at the base of Maude’s Crack. Often the sandstone has veins of harder iron oxide "cement", the softer sandstone erodes around the veins leaving the protruding lines. Iron oxide is also called "rust".

This odd sandstone was also found at the base of Maudes Crack. Often the sandstone has veins of harder iron oxide "cement", the softer sandstone erodes around the veins leaving the protruding lines. Iron oxide is also called "rust".

This odd sandstone was also found at the base of Maudes Crack. Often the sandstone has veins of harder iron oxide "cement", the softer sandstone erodes around the veins leaving the protruding lines. Iron oxide is also called "rust". 801
58 Big South Fork is famous for its <strong>sandstone arches</strong>, the largest in the eastern United States. One trail takes hikers over the top of one of the arches. This is not a good place to take children, there are no safety fences or rails on th...

Big South Fork is famous for its sandstone arches, the largest in the eastern United States. One trail takes hikers over the top of one of the arches. This is not a good place to take children, there are no safety fences or rails on th...

Big South Fork is famous for its sandstone arches, the largest in the eastern United States. One trail takes hikers over the top of one of the arches. This is not a good place to take children, there are no safety fences or rails on the arch. 870
59 The <strong>Twin Arches</strong> are one of the most popular sights in the park. A hike of less than a mile brings you to the North and South Arches. The North Arch spans 93 feet across and is 51 feet high. The South Arch is 135 feet across and 70 feet...

The Twin Arches are one of the most popular sights in the park. A hike of less than a mile brings you to the North and South Arches. The North Arch spans 93 feet across and is 51 feet high. The South Arch is 135 feet across and 70 feet...

The Twin Arches are one of the most popular sights in the park. A hike of less than a mile brings you to the North and South Arches. The North Arch spans 93 feet across and is 51 feet high. The South Arch is 135 feet across and 70 feet to the top opening. The base of the arches is deep sand, like a giants sandbox. 970
60 It is very difficult to photograph the Arches because they are so large.

It is very difficult to photograph the Arches because they are so large.

It is very difficult to photograph the Arches because they are so large. 789
61 Much of the sandstone on the Cumberland Plateau is layered in thin slabs. I wouldn't want to be standing under the cliff when these pieces break off!

Much of the sandstone on the Cumberland Plateau is layered in thin slabs. I wouldn't want to be standing under the cliff when these pieces break off!

Much of the sandstone on the Cumberland Plateau is layered in thin slabs. I wouldn't want to be standing under the cliff when these pieces break off! 1011
62 Sandstone slabs were often used as gravestones because they were readily available in our area and it was easy to carve inscriptions into them. This one is in a graveyard just down the street from my house.

Sandstone slabs were often used as gravestones because they were readily available in our area and it was easy to carve inscriptions into them. This one is in a graveyard just down the street from my house.

Sandstone slabs were often used as gravestones because they were readily available in our area and it was easy to carve inscriptions into them. This one is in a graveyard just down the street from my house. 865
63 <strong>Norris Lake</strong> formed in the late 1930's when the Norris Dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake flooded many small valley towns. The land in the distance is the tops of the ridges. I cringe to think how many millions of wi...

Norris Lake formed in the late 1930's when the Norris Dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake flooded many small valley towns. The land in the distance is the tops of the ridges. I cringe to think how many millions of wi...

Norris Lake formed in the late 1930's when the Norris Dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake flooded many small valley towns. The land in the distance is the tops of the ridges. I cringe to think how many millions of wildflowers drowned in these woods. :( There is a north-facing trail just below the dam that is chock full of wildflowers. 2482
64 This TVA sign shows the extensive system of dams on the rivers across Tennessee. Many dams are used to produce hydroelectric power. They are also used to store water in times of drought and to protect communities downstream from flooding during heavy r...

This TVA sign shows the extensive system of dams on the rivers across Tennessee. Many dams are used to produce hydroelectric power. They are also used to store water in times of drought and to protect communities downstream from flooding during heavy r...

This TVA sign shows the extensive system of dams on the rivers across Tennessee. Many dams are used to produce hydroelectric power. They are also used to store water in times of drought and to protect communities downstream from flooding during heavy rains. The water in the lakes is quite clear and clean in the eastern part of the state. As it flows west through the cities, farmland, new neighborhoods, and locks, the water picks up sediment, trash, fertilizers, oil, and other pollutants; the water in the lakes of the middle and western parts of the state is not as pretty and clean. 938
65 This large chunk of <strong>Tennessee Pink Marble</strong> is a remnant from the Mead’s Quarry, now part of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. Marble is a <em>metamorphic</em> rock formed from limestone. Tennessee Pink is a very popular building st...

This large chunk of Tennessee Pink Marble is a remnant from the Meads Quarry, now part of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from limestone. Tennessee Pink is a very popular building st...

This large chunk of Tennessee Pink Marble is a remnant from the Meads Quarry, now part of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from limestone. Tennessee Pink is a very popular building stone because of its beautiful color when it is polished. The pink color comes from iron oxide that mixed with the stone long ago. The quarry is now abandoned and full of water. Abandoned quarries are very dangerous places, people often drown when swimming in them. 1438
66 Traveling south on Highway 27, a side trip to <strong>Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness</strong> is a real treat. The huge sandstone boulders in the creeks are amazing!

Traveling south on Highway 27, a side trip to Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness is a real treat. The huge sandstone boulders in the creeks are amazing!

Traveling south on Highway 27, a side trip to Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness is a real treat. The huge sandstone boulders in the creeks are amazing! 1116
67 Many of the huge boulders at Laurel - Snow Pocket Wilderness have cracks from water erosion. Over time, the boulder will become sand once again.

Many of the huge boulders at Laurel - Snow Pocket Wilderness have cracks from water erosion. Over time, the boulder will become sand once again.

Many of the huge boulders at Laurel - Snow Pocket Wilderness have cracks from water erosion. Over time, the boulder will become sand once again. 1029
68 At the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway you can enjoy seeing the <strong>Bald River Falls</strong>. The water tumbles over a cliff of shale.

At the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway you can enjoy seeing the Bald River Falls. The water tumbles over a cliff of shale.

At the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway you can enjoy seeing the Bald River Falls. The water tumbles over a cliff of shale. 916
69 I thought this rock was interesting, the smaller stone is wearing down the shale when it gets tumbled by moving water. This was photographed beneath the bridge at Bald River Falls.

I thought this rock was interesting, the smaller stone is wearing down the shale when it gets tumbled by moving water. This was photographed beneath the bridge at Bald River Falls.

I thought this rock was interesting, the smaller stone is wearing down the shale when it gets tumbled by moving water. This was photographed beneath the bridge at Bald River Falls. 1124
70 I found this huge <strong>Quartz</strong> boulder in the river far downstream from Bald River Falls. The smaller stone is shale and sandstone. It is common to find large pieces of white quartz in the Appalachian Mountains. Quartz is a hard mineral (7 o...

I found this huge Quartz boulder in the river far downstream from Bald River Falls. The smaller stone is shale and sandstone. It is common to find large pieces of white quartz in the Appalachian Mountains. Quartz is a hard mineral (7 o...

I found this huge Quartz boulder in the river far downstream from Bald River Falls. The smaller stone is shale and sandstone. It is common to find large pieces of white quartz in the Appalachian Mountains. Quartz is a hard mineral (7 on the Moh's hardness scale) that is formed in the depths of the earth. It is one of the "ingredients" in granite. Rocks are made up of 2 or more minerals. Granite rock is made up of quartz, horneblende, feldspar, and sometimes biotite mica minerals. If you find 2 small white quartz stones in a creek, strike them together in the dark and you'll see a small glow of light called a piezo electric charge. 1406
71 The <strong>Shale</strong> boulders in the river below Bald River Falls are often striped. Shale is a type of <em>siltstone</em> made of solidified, fine-grained mud. When exposed to massive pressure and heat far below the earth's surface, shale metamo...

The Shale boulders in the river below Bald River Falls are often striped. Shale is a type of siltstone made of solidified, fine-grained mud. When exposed to massive pressure and heat far below the earth's surface, shale metamo...

The Shale boulders in the river below Bald River Falls are often striped. Shale is a type of siltstone made of solidified, fine-grained mud. When exposed to massive pressure and heat far below the earth's surface, shale metamorphoses into slate. To remember which rock turns into which, I think of H coming before L in the alphabet and the "H" in shale coming before the "L" in slate, therefore shale came before slate. Shale will break into flat, angular pieces when broken (fissile), a second type of siltstone called, "claystone" is not fissile. 1085
72 <strong>Slate</strong> is metamorphosed shale, it is harder and more dense than shale. It is easy to see the thin layers in the stone. Metamorphic rock often forms layers due to being squeezed under pressure. Since it separates into thin sheets, slate ...

Slate is metamorphosed shale, it is harder and more dense than shale. It is easy to see the thin layers in the stone. Metamorphic rock often forms layers due to being squeezed under pressure. Since it separates into thin sheets, slate ...

Slate is metamorphosed shale, it is harder and more dense than shale. It is easy to see the thin layers in the stone. Metamorphic rock often forms layers due to being squeezed under pressure. Since it separates into thin sheets, slate has been used for chalkboards, roof shingles, and pool table tops. 1426
73 All cultures have had a way of explaining the creation of the earth. The Cherokees had a fascinating story to explain the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. That must have been one REALLY BIG "buzzard" or vulture! :) Click on the photo to enlarge ...

All cultures have had a way of explaining the creation of the earth. The Cherokees had a fascinating story to explain the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. That must have been one REALLY BIG "buzzard" or vulture! :) Click on the photo to enlarge ...

All cultures have had a way of explaining the creation of the earth. The Cherokees had a fascinating story to explain the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. That must have been one REALLY BIG "buzzard" or vulture! :) Click on the photo to enlarge it and read the story on the sign. This sign is found on the Cherohala Skyway in Monroe County. 1204
74 Here are some of the <strong>foothills of the Appalachians</strong>. Perhaps the giant buzzard's wingtips touched here!

Here are some of the foothills of the Appalachians. Perhaps the giant buzzard's wingtips touched here!

Here are some of the foothills of the Appalachians. Perhaps the giant buzzard's wingtips touched here! 774
75 Cades Cove is a beautiful low area in the Smokies. Until the government took over the land for the park in the 1930's, this area was a thriving community. The cove, called a "geologic window", has eroded through the Great Smoky thrust fault to expose e...

Cades Cove is a beautiful low area in the Smokies. Until the government took over the land for the park in the 1930's, this area was a thriving community. The cove, called a "geologic window", has eroded through the Great Smoky thrust fault to expose e...

Cades Cove is a beautiful low area in the Smokies. Until the government took over the land for the park in the 1930's, this area was a thriving community. The cove, called a "geologic window", has eroded through the Great Smoky thrust fault to expose even more ancient rock. 1531
76 Rocks in the streams in the Smokies show a tremendous diversity of color and patterns. These smooth stones are made up of shale, slate, quartz, and Thunderhead Sandstone.

Rocks in the streams in the Smokies show a tremendous diversity of color and patterns. These smooth stones are made up of shale, slate, quartz, and Thunderhead Sandstone.

Rocks in the streams in the Smokies show a tremendous diversity of color and patterns. These smooth stones are made up of shale, slate, quartz, and Thunderhead Sandstone. 1070
77 The water from Abrams Creek roars over Cades Sandstone at the top of Abrams Falls.

The water from Abrams Creek roars over Cades Sandstone at the top of Abrams Falls.

The water from Abrams Creek roars over Cades Sandstone at the top of Abrams Falls. 713
78 <strong>Alum Cave Bluff</strong> is located on one of the trails to Mt. Leconte. The large overhanging cliff protects the "cave" from rain, so the floor is very dry and dusty. The smell of <em>saltpeter</em> is noticable as soon as you walk into the ca...

Alum Cave Bluff is located on one of the trails to Mt. Leconte. The large overhanging cliff protects the "cave" from rain, so the floor is very dry and dusty. The smell of saltpeter is noticable as soon as you walk into the ca...

Alum Cave Bluff is located on one of the trails to Mt. Leconte. The large overhanging cliff protects the "cave" from rain, so the floor is very dry and dusty. The smell of saltpeter is noticable as soon as you walk into the cave. Saltpeter smells much like gunpowder; it should, it is one of the ingredients of the explosive powder. It was mined from this cliff during the Civil War. This makes a nice resting place for hikers on their way to Mt. Leconte. 972
79 This huge <strong>Quartz boulder</strong> is located along the Alum Cave trail to Mt. Leconte. Quartz is a mineral frequently found in the Smokies.

This huge Quartz boulder is located along the Alum Cave trail to Mt. Leconte. Quartz is a mineral frequently found in the Smokies.

This huge Quartz boulder is located along the Alum Cave trail to Mt. Leconte. Quartz is a mineral frequently found in the Smokies. 1096
80 Blue Quartz conglomerate boulder in the Smokies

Blue Quartz conglomerate boulder in the Smokies

Blue Quartz conglomerate boulder in the Smokies 894
81 <strong>Quartz veins</strong> are often found in the rocks in the Appalachians. The white mineral was deposited eons ago in cracks in this <em>graywacke</em> (pronounced: gray-wak-ee) rock by seeping water. Graywacke is a type of sandstone made up prim...

Quartz veins are often found in the rocks in the Appalachians. The white mineral was deposited eons ago in cracks in this graywacke (pronounced: gray-wak-ee) rock by seeping water. Graywacke is a type of sandstone made up prim...

Quartz veins are often found in the rocks in the Appalachians. The white mineral was deposited eons ago in cracks in this graywacke (pronounced: gray-wak-ee) rock by seeping water. Graywacke is a type of sandstone made up primarily of sand-sized rock grains, it is common in the southern Appalachian mountains. 1171
82 The thin quartz veins in this rock looked like the letter "H". I saw this large rock on the bank of the Ocoee River.

The thin quartz veins in this rock looked like the letter "H". I saw this large rock on the bank of the Ocoee River.

The thin quartz veins in this rock looked like the letter "H". I saw this large rock on the bank of the Ocoee River. 901
83 These small quartz <strong>Sand grains</strong> were photographed on a Florida beach, it is hard to believe they originated from rocks high in the Appalachian mountains long ago!

These small quartz Sand grains were photographed on a Florida beach, it is hard to believe they originated from rocks high in the Appalachian mountains long ago!

These small quartz Sand grains were photographed on a Florida beach, it is hard to believe they originated from rocks high in the Appalachian mountains long ago! 1197
84 A view of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies as seen from Hwy. 441. The Chimneys are made of slate.

A view of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies as seen from Hwy. 441. The Chimneys are made of slate.

A view of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies as seen from Hwy. 441. The Chimneys are made of slate. 878
85 The view of Hwy. 441 from the Chimneys.

The view of Hwy. 441 from the Chimneys.

The view of Hwy. 441 from the Chimneys. 751
86 A large Slate outcropping on the Chimney Tops crest.

A large Slate outcropping on the Chimney Tops crest.

A large Slate outcropping on the Chimney Tops crest. 2292
87 This Slate makes up the top of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies.

This Slate makes up the top of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies.

This Slate makes up the top of the Chimney Tops in the Smokies. 937
88 The view of <strong>Mt. Leconte</strong> seen from Charlie's Bunion. The "Bunion" is made up of <em>slate</em>. The mountain is the second highest peak in the Smokies. Clouds often form over the mountains due to the rising warm moisture-laden air meeti...

The view of Mt. Leconte seen from Charlie's Bunion. The "Bunion" is made up of slate. The mountain is the second highest peak in the Smokies. Clouds often form over the mountains due to the rising warm moisture-laden air meeti...

The view of Mt. Leconte seen from Charlie's Bunion. The "Bunion" is made up of slate. The mountain is the second highest peak in the Smokies. Clouds often form over the mountains due to the rising warm moisture-laden air meeting the cooler air in the higher elevations. 836
89 <strong>Charlie's Bunion</strong> is a great high-elevation destination. It requires an 4-mile hike to reach this point, but it is well worth it. Enjoy lunch, a snack, or a swig of water on this peak of <em>Anakeesta shale</em>. It is amazing to realiz...

Charlie's Bunion is a great high-elevation destination. It requires an 4-mile hike to reach this point, but it is well worth it. Enjoy lunch, a snack, or a swig of water on this peak of Anakeesta shale. It is amazing to realiz...

Charlie's Bunion is a great high-elevation destination. It requires an 4-mile hike to reach this point, but it is well worth it. Enjoy lunch, a snack, or a swig of water on this peak of Anakeesta shale. It is amazing to realize that this rock was a muddy ocean bottom hundreds of millions of years ago, now it is over 5,000 feet above sea level! 825
90 This large <strong>Rockslide</strong> can be seen from Hwy. 441 in the Smokies.  Landslides are common in the steep areas of the high mountains.

This large Rockslide can be seen from Hwy. 441 in the Smokies. Landslides are common in the steep areas of the high mountains.

This large Rockslide can be seen from Hwy. 441 in the Smokies. Landslides are common in the steep areas of the high mountains. 1284
91 This Rockslide is located near the Sinks in the Smoky Mountains. I was standing at the base of it when I took this photo.

This Rockslide is located near the Sinks in the Smoky Mountains. I was standing at the base of it when I took this photo.

This Rockslide is located near the Sinks in the Smoky Mountains. I was standing at the base of it when I took this photo. 862
92 <strong>Andrews Bald</strong> is located near Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies and Tennessee. The grassy balds high in the mountains were once used as summer pasture areas for livestock of the mountain people.

Andrews Bald is located near Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies and Tennessee. The grassy balds high in the mountains were once used as summer pasture areas for livestock of the mountain people.

Andrews Bald is located near Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies and Tennessee. The grassy balds high in the mountains were once used as summer pasture areas for livestock of the mountain people. 1327
93 <strong>Clingmans' Dome</strong> is the highest point in Tennessee at 6311 feet elevation. On a clear day, you can see for many miles from the observation tower.

Clingmans' Dome is the highest point in Tennessee at 6311 feet elevation. On a clear day, you can see for many miles from the observation tower.

Clingmans' Dome is the highest point in Tennessee at 6311 feet elevation. On a clear day, you can see for many miles from the observation tower. 1032
94 <strong>Roan Mountain</strong>, located in Roan Mountain State Park in upper east Tennessee, has a large bald. Balds are large, grassy areas that are usually free of large trees. The park is on the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines.

Roan Mountain, located in Roan Mountain State Park in upper east Tennessee, has a large bald. Balds are large, grassy areas that are usually free of large trees. The park is on the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines.

Roan Mountain, located in Roan Mountain State Park in upper east Tennessee, has a large bald. Balds are large, grassy areas that are usually free of large trees. The park is on the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines. 951
95 The rocks at the top of Roan Mountain are <strong>gneiss</strong>, a metamorphic rock formed from granite, note the stripes of the layers. This ancient rock is not found in many parts of Tennessee.

The rocks at the top of Roan Mountain are gneiss, a metamorphic rock formed from granite, note the stripes of the layers. This ancient rock is not found in many parts of Tennessee.

The rocks at the top of Roan Mountain are gneiss, a metamorphic rock formed from granite, note the stripes of the layers. This ancient rock is not found in many parts of Tennessee. 1039
96 A beautiful view of the Appalachians from Roan Mountain.

A beautiful view of the Appalachians from Roan Mountain.

A beautiful view of the Appalachians from Roan Mountain. 912
97 Mountains are often a great source of minerals and metal ore. The Burra Burra mine in <strong>Ducktown, TN</strong>, was a source of copper, and small amounts of silver and gold. The mine opened in the early 1850's and closed in 1987. The area is infam...

Mountains are often a great source of minerals and metal ore. The Burra Burra mine in Ducktown, TN, was a source of copper, and small amounts of silver and gold. The mine opened in the early 1850's and closed in 1987. The area is infam...

Mountains are often a great source of minerals and metal ore. The Burra Burra mine in Ducktown, TN, was a source of copper, and small amounts of silver and gold. The mine opened in the early 1850's and closed in 1987. The area is infamous for the incredible ecological damage it suffered due to soil, air and water pollution. At one time, 50 square miles of the area was completely bare of vegetation because of sulfuric acid fumes released during smelting of the ore and toxic water runoff from the mine tailings. Without plants, the soil became eroded, causing severe siltation in the creeks and rivers. Much of the aquatic life in the Ocoee River was killed off because of the siltation and high concentrations of heavy metals in the water. In the late 1930's scientists began attempting to reclaim the "biological desert" surrounding the mine. All of the pine trees in this photo are part of the reclaimation project. A small area around the mine has been left as it was "for old time's sake". Ducktown is located in the far southeast corner of Tennessee at the intersection of Hwy. 64 and Hwy. 68. There is a small museum at the site that shows life in the area during the time the mine was up and running. 959
98 This <strong>limestone rock</strong> was photographed along the bank of the Ocoee River. The runoff from the mine tailings continues to make the water in the river more acidic than normal. Adding alkaline (higher pH) rock helps neutralize the acidic (l...

This limestone rock was photographed along the bank of the Ocoee River. The runoff from the mine tailings continues to make the water in the river more acidic than normal. Adding alkaline (higher pH) rock helps neutralize the acidic (l...

This limestone rock was photographed along the bank of the Ocoee River. The runoff from the mine tailings continues to make the water in the river more acidic than normal. Adding alkaline (higher pH) rock helps neutralize the acidic (lower ph) river water. 906
99 Much of the bedrock in the Ocoee River has potholes where the rock has been worn away by smaller rocks. At times when the river is flowing, the small rocks trapped in the holes swirl around, scouring out the potholes.

Much of the bedrock in the Ocoee River has potholes where the rock has been worn away by smaller rocks. At times when the river is flowing, the small rocks trapped in the holes swirl around, scouring out the potholes.

Much of the bedrock in the Ocoee River has potholes where the rock has been worn away by smaller rocks. At times when the river is flowing, the small rocks trapped in the holes swirl around, scouring out the potholes. 910
100 The flow of the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee is controlled by the TVA because it is used for hydroelectric power. When the water is pumped through the large pipes and the flow is very low, it is possible to see the bedrock in the river bottom.

The flow of the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee is controlled by the TVA because it is used for hydroelectric power. When the water is pumped through the large pipes and the flow is very low, it is possible to see the bedrock in the river bottom.

The flow of the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee is controlled by the TVA because it is used for hydroelectric power. When the water is pumped through the large pipes and the flow is very low, it is possible to see the bedrock in the river bottom. 867
101 At first glance from the road this Shale outcropping in Kingsport, TN looked like solid rock. When I walked up to it, I was surprised to see that the rock was splintered into very small pieces.

At first glance from the road this Shale outcropping in Kingsport, TN looked like solid rock. When I walked up to it, I was surprised to see that the rock was splintered into very small pieces.

At first glance from the road this Shale outcropping in Kingsport, TN looked like solid rock. When I walked up to it, I was surprised to see that the rock was splintered into very small pieces. 936
102 A close-up of the Shale outcropping. Note the different shades of gray, these were probably made up of sediments from different flooding events hundreds of millions of years ago. This type of rock is extremely unstable, it would crumble away if someone...

A close-up of the Shale outcropping. Note the different shades of gray, these were probably made up of sediments from different flooding events hundreds of millions of years ago. This type of rock is extremely unstable, it would crumble away if someone...

A close-up of the Shale outcropping. Note the different shades of gray, these were probably made up of sediments from different flooding events hundreds of millions of years ago. This type of rock is extremely unstable, it would crumble away if someone tried to climb it. 872
103 These <strong>Brachiopod Fossils</strong> were found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge.

These Brachiopod Fossils were found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge.

These Brachiopod Fossils were found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge. 1011
104 A <strong>Bryozoan Fossil</strong> 

<em>Bryozoan</em> means "moss animal". The tiny tubes visible in this photo contained an individual animal. This is a very common fossil in east Tennessee since this area was covered by a shallow sea 400 million y...

A Bryozoan Fossil Bryozoan means "moss animal". The tiny tubes visible in this photo contained an individual animal. This is a very common fossil in east Tennessee since this area was covered by a shallow sea 400 million y...

A Bryozoan Fossil Bryozoan means "moss animal". The tiny tubes visible in this photo contained an individual animal. This is a very common fossil in east Tennessee since this area was covered by a shallow sea 400 million years ago. 982
105 Another Bryozoan fossil

Another Bryozoan fossil

Another Bryozoan fossil 901
106 A Gastropod fossil found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge.

A Gastropod fossil found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge.

A Gastropod fossil found in a limestone rock at Haw Ridge in Oak Ridge. 1103
107 "Face-paint rock" is made from ground up colored siltstone found in some of the creeks in east Tennessee. The reddish color comes from iron, the black is from coal.

"Face-paint rock" is made from ground up colored siltstone found in some of the creeks in east Tennessee. The reddish color comes from iron, the black is from coal.

"Face-paint rock" is made from ground up colored siltstone found in some of the creeks in east Tennessee. The reddish color comes from iron, the black is from coal. 1313

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