The North Carolina State Park system is one of the most diverse and expansive in the United States. For those of you that live here, you have probably enjoyed a visit to at least of few of the state parks with your families. Did you know that there are a total of 34 state parks, 4 state recreation areas, and 19 state natural areas in North Carolina (www.ncparks.gov)? They span from the coastline to Mount Mitchell, and offer our residents an easily accessible and low cost (usually free) way to enjoy the natural biologic, ecologic and geologic diversity of the state.
The North Carolina State Park system strives to provide environmental education to state residents as well as acting to protect and preserve the natural resources throughout the state. A variety of biologists, educators, and rangers work with both universities and conservation groups in an effort to fund research, establish exhibits and interpretive programs, and understand the resources within each park. We are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the state park system here in North Carolina (started in 1916 at Mount Mitchell, ), and we thought it prudent to take a few moments to provide you some additional information on the parks from a geologist’s perspective. The park system spans the width of the state, which is generally divided into three basic geologic areas: 1) The Western North Carolina Mountains, 2) The Central North Carolina Piedmont, and 3) The Eastern North Carolina Coastal Plain. Collectively, the rocks that underlie these regions contain a geologic history going back 2 billion years.
The western portion of the state contains some of North Carolina’s oldest rocks that hold evidence of the history of the North American continent, from its incorporation into the supercontinent Rodinia and its breakup leading to today’s continental positions. Some of the state parks located in the western portion of the state include:
- Stone Mountain – Located in Wilkes and Alleghany Counties. The notable geologic feature is a 600-foot granite dome that is part of a 25 square mile igneous pluton
- Elk Knob State Park – Located in Watauga County, this park’s diverse flora and fauna are attributed to rich soils that result from the underlying amphibolite metamorphic rock.
- The Piedmont rocks are a collection of accreted terrains that developed through plate tectonic convergent processes during the formation and breakup of the North American Continent. Some of the state parks located in the Piedmont include:
- Eno River State Park – Flowing from Orange County to Durham County, the Eno River spans two major geologic units: The older slightly metamorphosed igneous rocks of the Carolina Terrance on the west and the younger Triassic Basin sedimentary rocks and diabase on the east.
- Falls Lake State Recreation Area – Spanning three counties, Falls Lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers to help prevent flooding of the Neuse River, and contains a wide variety of rocks representing over half a billion years of NC geology.
The Coastal Plain contains a collection of sediments that have been eroded and transported down from the Appalachian Mountains throughout geologic history to become deposited on the eastern part of the state. Some of the state parks in the coastal plain include:
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park – Located in Nag’s Head at the north end of the Outer Banks, this park contains the tallest sand dune system in the Eastern United States, likely formed in the geologic past from a combination of water currents carrying sands from offshore shoals to the coastline and winds depositing them upland to form dunes
- Dismal Swamp State Park – Located in Camden County, this park contains extensive swamp/wetlands that were underwater for millions of years before rising as a land form during the last continental shift.
Each of North Carolina’s state parks, recreation areas, lakes, rivers and natural areas contain unique geology and habitats that are certainly worth visiting. With the weather finally improving, pick a weekend and a park and enjoy some of North Carolina’s beautiful geology!
Pyramid Continues Our Adopt-A-Stream Efforts
Last Friday, April 17th, Pyramid Environmental participated in the Greensboro Beautiful event by cleaning up our Adopted Stream, “Ryan Creek”, which is part of the South Buffalo Creek Watershed. Our group managed to collect 7 bags full of trash ranging from candy bar wrappers to hubcaps! We hope that the waterfowl we encountered along the way appreciate our efforts! More information on the Adopt-A-Stream Program and the Greensboro Beautiful Program can be found below:
An engineer could not find a job so he opens a clinic and puts a sign outside that says ‘Get treatment for $50, If not cured get back $100’.
A doctor thinks this is a good opportunity to show up the engineer and earn a quick $100. And so he visits the clinic.
Doctor : “I have lost my sense of taste.”
Engineer: “Nurse , bring the medicine from box No 22 and place 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.”
Doctor spits out the medicine and says “This is not medicine – it’s gasoline”.
Engineer: “Congrats.. You have your taste back ..That will be $50”
Doctor gets annoyed, and returns after several days to recover his money.
Doctor : “I have lost my memory and can’t remember a thing.”
Engineer : “Nurse , bring medicine from Box No 22 and put 3 drops in patient’s mouth.”
Doctor : “That medicine is for the sense of taste” protests the doctor.
Engineer : “Congrats, your memory is back.. ..that will be $50”
Doctor leaves, but after several days angrily returns for one last try.
Doctor : “My eyesight has become weak.”
Engineer : “Well I don’t have any medicine for that. Take this $100”
Doctor : “But this is a $50 bill”
Engineer : “Congratulations, your eyesight has gotten better. ..That will be $50”
(Hat tip to Jim Flynt and Gene Scarborough)