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Smoky Mountains and Southern Appalachians

Smoky Mountains
Field Trips
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 to Sunday, September 19, 2010
The Southern Appalachians

Exploring the Southern Appalachians

Wednesday, September 15 -- Driving!!
We drove through Lexington, Kentucky to the town of Jellico, just across the border into Tennessee, where we spent the night.

Thursday, September 16 -- Transect of the Southern Appalachians
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 Proterozoic 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 once infamous for land degradation due to acid deposition associated with smelting the copper ore, but now much recovered. Continuing eastward into North Carolina we passed through (3) high grade (granulite facies) metasedimentary and mafic metaigeneous rocks of the central Blue Ridge. We proceeded northward through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Gatlinburg, where we spent the next two nights.

Friday, September 17 -- 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 Proterozoic Blue Ridge rocks; (2) Look Rock and the Ordovician limestones underneath the Proterozoic 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 Proterozoic rocks of the Blue Ridge to the south; and (3) a hike to the top of Clingmans Dome on the crest of the Appalachians, at 6,643 feet the highest point in Tennessee, and one of the highest points in the Appalachians.

Saturday, September 18 -- 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 had 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), stepped 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, KY.

Sunday, September 19 -- 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.

Posted Date 
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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