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America's Volcanic Past
South Carolina

"Though few people in the United States may actually experience an erupting volcano, the evidence for earlier volcanism is preserved in many rocks of North America. Features seen in volcanic rocks only hours old are also present in ancient volcanic rocks, both at the surface and buried beneath younger deposits." -- Excerpt from: Brantley, 1994
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Map, Location of South Carolina

Volcanic Highlights and Features:
[NOTE: This list is just a sample of various South Carolina features or events and is by no means inclusive. All information presented here was gathered from other online websites and each excerpt is attributed back to the original source. Please use those sources in referencing any information on this webpage, and please visit those websites for more information on the Geology of South Carolina.]

  • South Carolina
  • South Carolina Regions
  • South Carolina - Brief Geologic History
  • South Carolina's Volcanic Rocks

South Carolina

Excerpt from:
South Carolina Regions

The Appalachians:3
The Appalachians are old. A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian mountains reveals elongate belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor. Strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision. The birth of the Appalachian ranges, some 480 million years ago, marks the first of several mountain building plate collisions that culminated in the construction of the supercontinent Pangea with the Appalachians near the center.

The Atlantic Plain:3
The Atlantic Plain is the flattest of the provinces. It stretches over 2,200 miles in length from Cape Cod to the Mexican border and southward another 1000 miles to the Yucatan Peninsula. The Atlantic plain slopes gently seaward from the inland highlands in a series of terraces. This gentle slope continues far into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, forming the continental shelf. This region was born during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea in the early Mesozoic Era.

South Carolina - Brief Geologic History

East Coast Volcanoes:4
During the early part of the expansion of the continental crust (about 750 million years ago), a deep basin, known as the Ocoee basin, formed on the margin of the supercontinent what is now the western Carolinas, eastern Tennessee, and Georgia. Seawater filled the basin. Rivers from the surrounding countryside carried clay, silt, sand, and gravel to the basin, much as rivers today carry sediment from the midcontinent to the Gulf of Mexico. The sediment spread out in layers on basin floor. The basin continued to subside, and over a long of time, probably millions of years, a great thickness of sediment accumulated. The sediments of the Ocoee basin now form the bedrock of the Great Smoky, Unicoi, and Plott Balsam Mountains. At the time that sediments were being deposited and mineral deposits were forming in the Ocoee basin, volcanoes were erupting in areas that are now Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Lava from some volcanoes flowed in slow-moving sheets like lava from the Hawaiian volcanoes, but other eruptions were explosive, like Mount St. Helens. Although volcanic activity ended hundreds of millions of years ago, rocks that formed from these ancient volcanoes are still visible. Fragments that erupted from ancient volcanoes and minerals that filled holes where gas bubbles had escaped can be seen in some rocks at White Top Mountain in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area of southern Virginia.

North Central South Carolina:1
570 million years go (Cambrian), deposition of volcanic and sedimentary rocks found in the Charlotte Slate Belt. Outcrops of granite and gabbro.


South Carolina's Volcanic Rocks

South Carolina's Granite as a Crushed Stone Industry:2
Aiken County ... Anderson County ... Cherokee County ... Chesterfield County ... Fairfield County ... Greenville County ... Greenwood County ... Lancaster County ... Laurens County ... Lexington County ... Ocoee County ... Pickens County ... Richland County ... Spartanburg County ...

South Carolina's Dimension Stone (Granite) as an Industry:2
Kershaw County ...

Excerpts from:
1) Generalized Geologic Map of South Carolina, 1997, Map of Structural Features of South Carolina, 1998, and Geologic Time Table for South Carolina, South Carolina Geological Survey Website, July 2001;
2) South Carolina Geological Survey Website, July 2001
3) USGS/NPS Geology in the Parks Website, September 2001
4) Sandra H.B. Clark, Birth of the Mountains: The Geologic Story of the Southern Appalachian Mountains: USGS General Interest Publication

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01/28/03, Lyn Topinka