Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wednesday, March 28 -- Driving!!
Drove west on I-70 to Columbus, southwest on I-71 to Cincinnati, and south on I-75 through Lexington, Kentucky to the town of Jellico, just across the border into Tennessee. We spent the night in Jellico, TN
Thursday, March 25 -- Transect of the Southern Appalachians
We drove south on I-75 to Cleveland, Tennessee, and then turned east on US highway 64/74. As we drove eastward across the southern Appalachians we saw (1) rocks of the Valley and Ridge province, consisting primarily of lower Paleozoic, platform facies clastic and carbonate rocks which are folded and thrust faulted but unmetamorphosed. In the gorge of the Ocoee River we saw (2) increasingly deformed and metamorphosed Precambrian rocks of the western Blue Ridge, which were thrust westward over the platform sedimentary rocks of the Valley and Ridge. Farther east we passed through Ducktown, a former copper mining area with a long history of environmental problems. Continuing eastward into North Carolina we passed through (3) high grade (granulite facies) metasedimentary and mafic metaigneous rocks of the central Blue Ridge. We eventually proceeded northward on US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Gatlinburg, where we spent the night in Gatlinburg.
Friday, March 26 -- Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We spent this day exploring the geology of the park, including (1) Cades Cove, a structural window eroded through the Blue Ridge thrust sheet, exposing unmetamorphosed Ordovician limestones underneath the Precambrian Blue Ridge rocks; (2) Look Rock and the Foothills Parkway, with views of the Paleozoic rocks of the Valley and Ridge province to the north and the Precambrian rocks of the Blue Ridge to the south; and (3) a hike to the top of Clingmans Dome on the crest of the Appalachians, the highest point in Tennessee. We spent the night in Gatlinburg.
Saturday, March 27 -- Valley and Ridge Province and Appalachian Plateau
We proceeded generally northwestward to Lexington, Kentucky; viewing classic Paleozoic stratigraphy, topography, and fold and thrust structures of the Valley and Ridge province. We should get good views of the Powell Valley anticline, the Middlesboro syncline and the Pine Mountain thrust, a classic set of structures that are figured in every structural geology textbook. After passing through Cumberland Gap, we crossed the Cumberland Plateau (Pennsylvanian rocks), step down onto the Interior Low Plateau (Mississippian rocks), and then down again into the karst terrain of the Lexington Plain (Ordovician carbonates). We spent the night in Lexington, Kentucky.
Sunday, March 28 -- Karst and Caves of the Appalachian Plateau
We explored karst topography and limestone caves in the Inner Blue Grass region and Appalachian Plateau of northern Kentucky, with a planned visit to Carter Caves State Park. We proceeded generally east and north toward Granville, returning to Denison before 6:00 PM.