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Coastal Plain Sediments

Coastal Plain Sediments

Strata of nonmarine sediments are pictured just across the state line in Phenix City, Alabama. Alternating layers of marine and nonmarine rock formations in the Coastal Plain reveal that long-term fluctuations in sea level occurred in Georgia throughout the Late Cretaceous period.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Columbus Fall Line

Columbus Fall Line

One end of Georgia's fall line, which marks the boundary between the hard rocks of the Piedmont geologic province and the softer rocks of the Coastal Plain, is located in Columbus. Marked by waterfalls and rapids, the fall line stretches across the state to Augusta.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

High Falls

High Falls

High Falls is located along the fall line at High Falls State Park in Butts County. The fall line crosses the state from Augusta to Columbus and marks the point at which the hard rocks of the Piedmont meet the softer rocks of the Coastal Plain.

Image from Stephen Rahn

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Geographic Regions of Georgia

Geographic Regions of Georgia

Georgia encompasses parts of five distinct geographic regions: the Appalachian Plateau, the Valley and Ridge, the Blue Ridge, the Piedmont, and the Coastal Plain.

Courtesy of Pamela J. W. Gore

Triassic Rock Cores

Triassic Rock Cores

Rock cores dating from the Triassic Period represent the oldest geologic layer in Georgia, which is composed of red sandstones, conglomerates, shales, and other nonmarine sediments. Triassic-age rocks are not visible at the surface in Georgia and were detected through seismic profiling and deep drilling.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Late Cretaceous Clam

Late Cretaceous Clam

This fossil of a Late Cretaceous clam, Crassatellites roodensis, features a hole bored by a type of snail known as a naticid. Such holes were a cause of mortality for many clam species during this period.

Photograph by David R. Schwimmer

Late Cretaceous Oyster

Late Cretaceous Oyster

The Late Cretaceous oyster, Crassostrea cusseta, pictured alongside a hammer measuring 33 centimeters in length, could grow to 60 centimeters. This specimen was found at the Blufftown Formation in Stewart County.

Photograph by David R. Schwimmer

Providence Canyon

Providence Canyon

Providence Canyon, in Stewart County, reveals the white Providence Sand, which dates to the Late Cretaceous period, lying beneath the reddish Clayton Formation, which formed during the Paleogene period.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Kaolin Mine

Kaolin Mine

Kaolinite clay, which formed in Georgia during the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleogene periods, is found in deposits running parallel to the fall line, which stretches from Augusta to Columbus. The mining of kaolin mining, which is used in the manufacture of various products, is an important industry in the state.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Georgiacetus Whale

Georgiacetus Whale

The Georgiacetus whale, an early ancestor of the modern whale, lived in the shallow sea that covered Georgia during the Eocene epoch (of the Paleogene period). The whale's hind legs and hips were functional.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Tivola Limestone

Tivola Limestone

Pictured near Perry, in Houston County, the Tivola Limestone formed during the Late Eocene epoch, when sea levels in the region were particularly high. The Tivola is considered to be an extension of the Ocala Limestone, a white, fossiliferous limestone that formed during the Late Eocene in the Dougherty Plain of southwest Georgia.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Shark Teeth

Shark Teeth

This set of shark teeth (Scapanorhyhcus texanus) was found in the Blufftown Formation, a highly fossilferous Cretaceous formation in the Chattahoochee Valley of southwest Georgia.

Courtesy of David R. Schwimmer

Georgiaites

Georgiaites

Georgiaites, or tektites, are natural glasses formed when an asteroid or meteorite collides with the earth. Many scientists believe that georgiaites formed as a result of the meteorite impact that created the Chesapeake Bay Crater in Virginia around 35 million years ago.

Photograph by Edward Albin

Cloudland Canyon

Cloudland Canyon

Exposed layers of sandstone are visible in the walls of Cloudland Canyon, part of the Appalachain Plateau geologic province in the northwest corner of Georgia. The vegetated slopes below the sandstone contain gray shale with interbedded sandstone, siderite, and coal.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain, located in Dade County, is part of the Appalachian Plateau geologic province. Georgia shares the mountain with Alabama and Tennessee.

Image from Andy Montgomery

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Appalachian Plateau

Appalachian Plateau

Lookout Mountain, in Walker County, which is part of the Appalachian Plateau.

Railroad Cut

Railroad Cut

An old coal-mining railroad cut runs near Lula Lake and Falls in Walker County, part of the Appalachian Plateau geologic province. The coalfield beneath the Appalachian Plateau, which extends from New York to Alabama, has had a significant economic and cultural impact on the region.

Rock Town

Rock Town

Rock Town, located on Pigeon Mountain in Walker County, is a natural rock formation composed of sandstone layers interbedded with shales. Pigeon Mountain is part of the Appalachian Plateau geologic province.

Pine Mountain

Pine Mountain

Pine Mountain, located in Harris County, is part of the Piedmont geologic province. Located between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont forms the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which formed during the Paleozoic era.

Graves Mountain

Graves Mountain

Graves Mountain, located in Lincoln County, is part of the Piedmont geologic province. Among the many minerals found on the mountain are kyanite, which is used in ceramics and for insulation, and rutile, a major ore of the metal alloy titanium.

Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River

The Chattahoochee River flows through Columbus, one of the cities located along the fall line marking the boundary between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain geologic provinces. The hard rocks of the Piedmont form outcrops that create rapids and waterfalls along the fall line.

Photograph by andrewI04 

Rising Fawn Thrust Fault

Rising Fawn Thrust Fault

The Rising Fawn thrust fault, located in the Valley and Ridge geologic province of northwest Georgia, was formed during the Alleghanian orogeny, the third mountain-building event of the Paleozoic Era.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Taylor Ridge

Taylor Ridge

Rock strata of Taylor Ridge, part of the Valley and Ridge geographic province, are visible from Interstate 75, which runs through Ringgold Gap in northwest Georgia. The ridges of the province are formed of hard layers of sandstone or chert, while the valleys are composed of softer shale and limestone.

Courtesy of Tim Chowns

Rockmart Slate Folds

Rockmart Slate Folds

Slate folds, which formed during the mountain-building events of the Paleozoic Era, are visible around Rockmart in the Valley and Ridge geologic province of northwest Georgia.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Carters Dam Fault

Carters Dam Fault

The Carters Dam Fault, located near Cartersville, is part of the fault system that separates the Piedmont region from the Valley and Ridge. Cambrian shale of the Valley and Ridge is visible to the left of the fault, while the metamorphic rock of the Piedmont is visible on the right.

Photograph by Chuck Cochran

Lula Lake and Falls

Lula Lake and Falls

Lula Lake and Lula Falls in Walker County showcase Georgia's natural geologic beauty, which draws visitors to the state each year.

Image from Jeff Moore

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Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

Cove Road, a few miles east of Jasper in the Blue Ridge geological province of Georgia, cuts through an outcrop of red mica schist and white marble in the Murphy marble belt.

Courtesy of T.E. LaTour

Providence Canyon

Providence Canyon

The unconsolidated sandstone bluffs of Providence Canyon in Stewart County were formed during the Cretaceous Period and are among the oldest exposed Coastal Plains rock formations in the state.

Courtesy of Matthew M. Moye

Dinosaur Tooth

Dinosaur Tooth

A tooth of the Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis, a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, was discovered among other fossil remains in Stewart County. The tooth is 4 cm long.

Courtesy of David Schwimmer

Kaolin

Kaolin

Kaolin, a clay used for the production of ceramics, medicine, and paper, is an important economic resource in Georgia. Formed during the Paleogene Period, kaolin is found in the central and eastern areas of the Coastal Plain.

Courtesy of Forrest Shropshire

Cumberland Island Dunes

Cumberland Island Dunes

Sand dunes form along the coast of Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia. Dunes are the primary geological feature of the state's barrier islands and represent the youngest geological deposits in the state.

Image from anoldent

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Granite

Granite

The Oglesby Quarry in Elberton, abandoned in 2003, is one of the many granite quarries to contribute to Georgia's economy. Formed approximately 1 billion years ago, granite is one of the oldest rock types found in Georgia.

Photograph by Clay Ouzts

Tallulah Falls

Tallulah Falls

Tallulah Falls are today part of the Tallulah Gorge State Park in northeast Georgia.

Image from Rain0975

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Grenville Gneiss

Grenville Gneiss

The Grenville gneisses were formed around 1 billion years ago during the Grenville Orogeny. The oldest rocks in Georgia, these gneisses form the "basement" upon which younger rocks were deposited during the formation of the Appalachian mountain chain.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Chattanooga Shale

Chattanooga Shale

The Chattanooga Shale, located in northwest Georgia, was formed approximately 350 million years ago, when the area was covered by a shallow sea.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain Park encompasses 3,200 acres just sixteen miles east of downtown Atlanta. Formed around 300 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era, the mountain itself is the world's largest mass of exposed granite.

Image from Darryl Pierce

Diabase Dike

Diabase Dike

Diabase dikes, such as the one pictured in Gwinnett County, are composed of a fine-grained igneous rock. They were formed between 180 and 230 million years ago as rifts opened in the Atlantic Ocean basin.

Photograph by Pamela J. W. Gore

Hadrosaur Fossil

Hadrosaur Fossil

A duck-billed hadrosaur fossil found in Alabama is pictured in 2006. Fossils of the duck-billed hadrosaur, along with those of the carnivore Albertosaurus, are also found in west central Georgia. Dinosaurs lived in Georgia during the Late Cretaceous Period, 65 to 100 million years ago.

Copyright 2006 by David R. Schwimmer. All rights reserved

Tidal Creek, Sapelo Island

Tidal Creek, Sapelo Island

Coastal tides bring nutrients from estuaries connected by tidal creeks to the marshes. Outgoing tides carry nutritious marsh products back into the estuaries. There, the products help to sustain large numbers of other marine organisms. The outgoing tides also remove wastes from the marsh.

Georgia Coast

Georgia Coast

Georgia's unique coastal region, including beaches, barrier islands, and marshes, has been formed over millions of years by geological processes. Today this area is threatened by the development necessary to sustain a growing tourist industry and population.

Photograph by Leslie Kimel

Lower Coastal Plain Map

Lower Coastal Plain Map

Barrier islands, also known as the Golden Isles, line the coast of Georgia. The Lower Coastal Plain extends for sixty-five to seventy miles between the Savannah and St. Marys rivers and contains the remains of older and higher shorelines west of the present coast. Previously occupied by Native Americans, today these ancient shorelines support the cities of Savannah, Darien, and Brunswick.

Courtesy of V. J. Henry

Jekyll Island Erosion

Jekyll Island Erosion

The topography of Jekyll Island illustrates the process of erosion occurring on most of Georgia's barrier islands. Many of the islands consist of a Pleistocene-era core to which a Holocene-era barrier island became attached around 5,000 years ago. Subsequent erosion by the rising sea has removed most of the Holocene barrier sands.

Courtesy of V. J. Henry

Ebb-tide Delta System

Ebb-tide Delta System

Within the ebb-tide delta system, sediments are brought into the marshlands by flooding tides and then redeposited seaward of the inlet by ebbing tides. Shoals formed as a result of this tidal action eventually drift south with the currents and weld onto the northern portion of barrier islands.

Courtesy of V. J. Henry

Marshlands

Marshlands

Tidal marshlands are an important feature of Georgia's coastal ecosystem. The two- to five-mile-wide areas between Georgia's barrier islands and mainland are dominated by saltwater wetlands, while brackish and freshwater wetlands extend inland for an additional ten miles along the estuaries.

Photograph by Steven Miller

Intracoastal Waterway Marina

Intracoastal Waterway Marina

Boats are docked at an intracoastal marina, which offers protection from the open sea. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is regularly dredged to keep it navigable, resulting in significant change to the Georgia shoreline.

Tybee Island

Tybee Island

Tybee Island, formerly known as Savannah Beach, is located about eighteen miles east of Savannah. A popular destination for tourists, Tybee is home to approximately 3,400 year-round residents.

Image from James St. John

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Georgia’s Watersheds

Georgia’s Watersheds

The contents of five river watersheds flow into Georgia's estuaries and marshlands. Pollutants from as far away as Atlanta and Augusta, along with those from points in between, can adversely affect the health and productivity of the coastal ecosystem.

Courtesy of V. J. Henry

Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald, located partly in Union County and partly in Towns County, was formed by the breaching of thrust faults by erosion, resulting in the exposure of rocks once deeply buried in the Appalachian Mountains. Situated in the Blue Ridge province, Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia.

Photograph by Vicki's Nature

Blood Mountain

Blood Mountain

Blood Mountain, at 4,461 feet, is the highest peak along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and the sixth highest mountain in the state. The mountain is located near the line between Union and Lumpkin counties and may have been named for a battle between the Cherokees and the Creeks.

Photograph by Sammy Hancock

Blue Ridge Marble Company

Blue Ridge Marble Company

Workers for the Blue Ridge Marble Company stand in the quarry at Nelson in Pickens County around 1910. The rich marble deposits of the Murphy Marble Belt, located along the western edge of the Blue Ridge province, gave rise to a booming marble industry in that part of the state during the nineteenth century.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia, # pck077-82b.

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Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge, located in the Blue Ridge province of Georgia, is formed by high, steep quartzite bluffs. The gorge has been a popular destination for visitors since the late nineteenth century and today is home to the Tallulah Gorge State Park.

Image from Andrew Piazza

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Mount Yonah

Mount Yonah

Mount Yonah, located in White County between Cleveland and Helen, is best known for its granite outcrops, formed by granite magma intruding the overlying stacks of metamorphic rocks about 375 million years ago. The outcrops are one of the favorite spots for rock climbers in the state.

Image from Andrew Partain

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