Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Part II: Geology

Okay, I have avoided this subject for as long as possible. Geology is often difficult to understand, but to really appreciate Grandfather Mountain, visitors must at least give the subject a cursory glance because Grandfather Mountain is geology. It's conglomerate rocks, outcroppings and rock that gives the appearance of having been melted (this isn't the technical term, but how I viewed it). And when I read about Grandfather Mountain and geology, I come upon phrases such as rift basins, crustal sheets. thrust faults and geological window.

Here's what the park has to say on the subject: www.grandfather.com/worldofwonder/geology/

I'll just say that Grandfather Mountain has some pretty neat rocks, and not just the promontories that contribute to the famous profile.

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
Shortly after entering the park, vistors approached two large boulders, commonly referred to as Split Rock and Sphinx Rock. Both are conglomerate rock which, according to Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas, is formed from various rock types including flattened pebbles. Significant in that it shows the rock has been metamorphosed (changed by heat and pressure).

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
Larger than they appear!

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
Closeup of the pebbles and rock that form these boulders:

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
The rock at the Swinging Bridge is also conglomerate rock, but appears melted in some places, angular in others, providing dramatic, dynamic views.

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe


Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe


Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
And of course:

Copyright 2012 K. Buffaloe
So while admiring the incredible views from Grandfather Mountain, don't forget to examing the geological significant rock beneath your feet.

For more information, check out the chapter on Grandfather Mountain in Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas by Kevin G. Steward and Mary-Russell Roberson.

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