north carolina geology

SciWorks Radio
3:05 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Triad Geology

Pilot Mountain with the Sauratown Mountains in the background.
Credit Molly Davis


From a geologic perspective, we don’t usually think about the North Carolina Piedmont as being very exciting. There are no tall mountains or volcanoes right nearby. But what if I told you that much of the area was once dominated by towering mountains and active volcanoes? In fact most of the piedmont was made up of a series of volcanic islands, or “island Arcs” much like Japan or Indonesia today. These separated themselves from the early continents, eventually collided and were squeezed together as the supercontinent “Pangea” was being formed. This same thing happened up and down most of the East Coast of the United States. Any time you find actual granite exposed at the surface, it was once part of a magma chamber located deep within the earth, likely feeding the region’s volcanos that were formed in these collisions. The Greensboro area has a lot this.

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