Lake Wales Ridge Sand Pits Field Trip, March 24, 2018
Guidebook #70 (PDF – 5.6 MB)
On 24 March 2018, SEGS partnered once again with the University of South Florida Geology Club, and returned to Lake Wales to collect fulgurites. The following report is from SEGS Secretary, Cortney Cameron, who also attended the trip:
Approximately 50 attendees—including nearly 30 students, 5 new members, and 8 children— attended this years’ Lake Wales Ridge fulgurites field trip, led by SEGS member Marc Hurst and hosted by SEGS in conjunction with the USF Geology Club. After Mr. Hurst provided a quick briefing on safety and the Ridge’s formation, participants were released into Pit No. 1, where current and future geologists—fervent in their search of fulgurites—could be observed imitating mountain goats along the sides of 40 foot tall mining sand dunes. Later in the day, USF’s Dr. Matthew Pasek made a surprise showing to provide the group with a brief lecture on all things fulgurite, his talk barely done before one exhilarated fulgurites fan purchased the only demo copy of his recently-published book. All the while, participants enjoyed drinks and snacks courtesy of SEGS (the chewable fruit treats proving popular with the youngsters). By the trip’s closing at lunchtime, signaled in part by large numbers of languid college students aggregating on the duneside of Pit No. 4 to sunbathe, it appeared that a majority of attendees had uncovered fulgurites, including at least one impressive ~3-inch diameter specimen.
Cuba Field Trip, March 18-23, 2018
From 18-23 March 2018, seventeen SEGS members embarked on a long-anticipated geological excursion to Florida’s geological next-door neighbor, the Caribbean island of Cuba. SEGS partnered with Holbrook Travel of Gainesville, specialists in eco-tours and scientific excursions, to coordinate our trip. SEGS member Roger Portell, who has been to Cuba several times conducting paleontological research for the Florida Museum of Natural History, worked closely with SEGS President Jon Bryan to organize the trip.
Fortunately for us, we quickly linked up with renown Cuban geologist, Manuel A. Iturralde-Vinent, of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, to personally lead our fieldtrip (the field book, written by Manuel, is now an SEGS publication (Guidebook 72), and will soon be available on the SEGS website). The experience was unforgettable. Our accommodations were exceptional. The trip seemed to be as much cultural as geological. Cuba is a beautiful island with an amazing geologic history. Cuba is actually part of the North American Plate. It was striking, even disconcerting, to see mountains with Jurassic limestone and Cretaceous ophiolites, so close to the the undisturbed Quaternary carbonates of south Florida. The following travel log was graciously provided by SEGS member and Cuba participant, Ms. Julie Zydek, hydrologist with SWFWMD. Thank you, Julie!
Cuba Travel Log, by Julie Zydek
From March 18th to March 23rd, I visited Western Cuba with the Southeastern Geological Society (SEGS) to study outcrops and the geomorphology of the western part of the island. The geology of the Cuban archipelago is very complex as it has a history of volcanism, tectonic action, sea level transgressions and regressions, metamorphism, and sedimentary deposition. We were hosted by Cuban geologist Manuel Iturralde-Vinent, the unsung hero of Cuban geology. He plays a fundamental role in preserving the integrity of the outcrops for future field trips, research, publishing, public outreach on geology, health, safety, and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Old Havana. We were also hosted by a local travel guide named Osmin and tour bus driver, Jose Louis. During the first four days, we visited many outcrops in and between Viñales, Varadero, and Havana to observe the mountainous, coastal, and karstic terrains. The last two days were spent exploring Old Havana.
On the first day in Viñales, we received a presentation from Manuel about the geology and karst overview at the visitor center of Viñales Natural Park. Here there are many tower karst formations and we witnessed the geomorphology of the Viñales valley and surroundings. We also visited the KT boundary and Paleogene foredeep deposit near Moncada. An email we received before the trip stated that Che Guevara staged hardware, munitions, and troops in anticipation of a U.S. invasion in the early 60s here.
On the second day, we visited the Jurassic-Cretaceous continental margin sections of Pangea to the Proto-Caribbean and Cuevo del Indio. The formations observed were the Middle Jurassic sandstone and shales (San Cayetano Fm), the organic-rich shales and limestones of the Jagua Fm, and the Kimmeridgian carbonate platform (both Jurassic in age) and Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary sections.
The K-T boundary near Moncada demarcates an erosional contact between the Late Cretaceous age Moncada Formation and the overlying Manacas Formation. The Moncada Formation is composed of shocked quartz, vesicular impact melt fragments, and altered grains of possible impact glass. This Formation also contains cross-laminated ripple marks that occur in many horizons which indicate north to south trending paleocurrent directions with reversals. Additionally, variable grain size within the horizons are indicative of tsunami wave action.
The “Viñales Stonehenge” (so named by Manuel himself) in the Dos Hermanos valley are formed by vertically flowing water after rain events. This causes the limestone to be dissolved with pinnacle and other karren-like geomorphological features.
San Cayetano Formation
Another featured observed in Viñales are the folds of the Early to Late Jurassic aged San Cayetano
Formation that outcrop on La Palma Road. These inverted folds of sandstones and shales are the oldest known deposits of the Guaniguanico mountains. The deposition of this Formation occurred simultaneously with the break up of Pangea in the Mesoamerican area. The portion of this Formation observed on La Palma Road is made up of well-bedded, reddish to yellowish, fine to medium grained sandstones and shales. Muscovite and zircon are observed in the sandstones, and the Paleoproterozoic zircons are thought to have originated from western and northern parts of South America. The overlying Late Jurassic Jagua Formation contain fossiliferous concretions. Fossils recovered from this Formation include: dinosaur, fish, plesiosaur, pliosaur, metriorhynchus crocodile, pterosaur, and ammonites.
Cuevo del Indio
Cuevo del Indio is a vadose zone cave, formed by the Cuyaguateje river (which flows inside the cave) cutting into the limestone hills (mogotes). It is home to many galleries that can be accessed by foot and by boat. The scallops seen on the walls were formed by currents.
We left Viñales on the third day to head to Varadero, a popular tourist spot on a peninsula east of Viñales, for two days. Here we visited the K-T boundary and the quaternary marine and coastal deposits, as well as allochthonous serpentinite ophiolites, Cretaceous arc rocks, and rocks from the Paleocene in the Havana-Matanzas area. We went snorkeling along a shallow reef at Playa Coral and inside Cueva de Saturno. The coral reef is currently recovering from sands which were imported to transform a rocky shore into a beach. However, wave action is removing the sands from the beach and the corals are recovering. We also visited Cueva Ambrosio, a protected cave that contains aboriginal drawings.
The Bacunayagua Bridge is one of the highest in Cuba and overlooks outcrops of Miocene age marls of the Cojimar Formation and limestones of the Guines Formation. To the south, the Yumuri valley cuts across Cretaceous volcanic sediments and mafic to ultra mafic, late Cretaceous to Miocene age sediments.
Terraces at Dupont and Hicacos
The shoreline in and around Varadero is dominated by rocky beach shores and unconsolidated dune deposits. Four marine terraces are identified, with the first identifiable terrace being from the Late Pleistocene age Jaimanitas Formation. The second identifiable terrace is several tens of meters away from the shoreline, in the Vedado Formation, which outcrops near the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. Terraces west of the Peninsula de Hicacos contain Sante Fe Formation cross laminated dunes made up of eolian calcarenties that reach heights of five to eight meters. In this area, as well as Dupont, tidal notches are apparent as erosional features of the terraces.
We spent the last two days in Havana where we visited the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Old Havana and were given a guided walking tour by our local tour guide, Osmin, of the city. We visited the Hotel Ambos Mundos and the house Ernest Hemingway had once lived in at Finca Vigia. The hotel we stayed at was the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, which housed many celebrities and mobsters during Cuba’s heyday.
Barite Deposits in the Cartersville Mining District and the Stone Mountain Pluton, November 3-4, 2017
On 3-4 November 2017, the Southeastern Geological Society headed once again for Georgia, to the Cartersville Mining District, the Tellus Museum, and the Stone Mountain pluton. About 10 SEGS members were joined by 10 students from Northwest Florida State College (Jon Bryan’s Physical Geology class).
We began our events on Friday evening (3 Nov) with dinner at Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse in Cartersville, followed by a presentation by New Riverside Ochre mining geologist, Stan Bearden. Stan spoke on the geology of the Carterville Mining District (CMD). Uniquely situated at the juncture of the Valley and Ridge, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont provinces of the Southern Appalachian Mountains (and bounded by several major fault systems), the CMD has been the source of a variety of economic minerals for more than 175 years. The CMD is the oldest continuously mined district in the southeastern United States. Ores include gold, iron, manganese oxides, specular hematite, graphite, barite, and several varieties of the mineraloid, limonite, including ochre (goethite) and umber (a Mn-rich limonite). New Riverside has quarried ochre and barite from the CMD continuously since 1911. Barite is a high-density (S.G. = 4.5) sulfate mineral (BaSO4) with an amazing variety of industrial applications (see articles in the field guide when it is posted on the SEGS website).
On Saturday morning, Stan took us to the New Riverside barite mine in Emerson, Georgia, where we got an overview of the deep residuum from which the barite is harvested, and collected all the barite we could carry, along with other associated minerals such pyrolusite (MnO2) and jasperoid. After the New Riverside mine, we headed about 15 minutes north on I-75 to the Tellus Museum, new home for famous Weinman Mineral Gallery, as well as some spectacular fossil displays. Tellus is without question a must see. Not just another local museum, the exhibits and campus are second to none. The Weinman mineral collection alone is worth the trip. A careful study of this exhibit would almost be a complete course in mineralogy!
After our traditional boxed Subway lunch, we then headed approximately 45 minutes to 1-hour south to the East Quarry of Stone Mountain, Georgia, where this granite was harvested for many years, primarily for ornamental building stone. Here we saw fantastic evidence of the magmatic history of this pluton, including igneous flow banding, aplite dikes, and biotite-gneiss xenoliths derived from the Appalachian Piedmont country rock. Stone Mountain is also a classic study in rock weathering. It is an exfoliation dome, and exhibits extensive chemical and biological weathering products. Along with several other plutons in the region, Stone Mountain was intruded in the Late Paleozoic, during the Appalachian Orogeny and assembly of Pangaea. The trip concluded with a ride on the ski-lift to the top of the mountain, and a hike down the western face.
Martin Marietta Quarry, Junction City, Georgia, June 17, 2017
On June 16 to 17, SEGS hosted a field trip to the Martin Marietta Junction City, Georgia, quarry. The event began with a Friday night taco buffet dinner at the Blackbird Café in Woodbury, Georgia, followed by a brief business meeting, which included a discussion of the prospects of a future trip to Cuba (currently only in the exploration stage). After a miscellaneous specimen-ID quiz, with Lake Wales fulgurites for all participants, compliments of Marc Hurst and Andy Lawn, guest speaker, Dr. Clinton Barineau, of Columbus State University, presented a brief lecture on the geology of the Southern Appalachians. Emphasis was given to the Uchee Belt, the southernmost exposure of the Piedmont, and location of the Junction City Quarry. The Martin Marietta Junction City Quarry, and the nearby Heath Quarry, are both mining a granodioritic gneiss in the Uchee Belt, a Gondwanan or peri-Gondwanan terrane. Clint Barineau also led our memorable 7 November 2015 fall line excursion (Barineau, 2015). Thank you, Clint, for once again contributing to an SEGS fieldtrip!
On Saturday morning, fifteen SEGS members assembled in Manchester, Georgia, to convoy to the quarry. Plant manager, Edward Rose, gave us a briefing on the quarry, including its history and operations. Interestingly, being the southern-most exposure granitic rock in the Appalachians, the operation is uniquely situated to service the crushed stone market in Florida—the quarry’s primary customer. Most of the rock is used in construction (e.g., asphalt) and railroad ballast. CSX Corporation has track around the quarry, and routinely hauls more than 300 hopper cars full of crushed stone to the Sunshine State.
After a couple of hours at the quarry, the group departed south toward Cusseta, Georgia for a Subway lunch, then proceeded to a Hichitee Creek fossil site north of Lumpkin. Here, in a creek below the bridge, SEGS members got their feet wet while collecting Late Cretaceous (Campanian) Blufftown Formation fossils. This site had an abundance of the large, index fossil oyster, Exogyra ponderosa, as well as the smaller jingle shell, Anomia argentaria. These two bivalves are well preserved because of their calcitic mineralogy. Other molluscs were present but poorly preserved (because of their aragonitic shells), including fragmentary ammonite debris (showing the typical, mother-of-pearl aragonite).
After fossil collecting in Hichitee Creek, and dodging a little rain, some participants started home to Florida, but nine returned to Manchester to collect a peculiar, flexible sandstone called itacolumite along a freshly exposed hillside cut for a new railroad bed. This unit is the Hollis Quartzite of uncertain age (Late Precambrian to early Paleozoic). A recent review of itacolumite, including the Georgia material, can be found in Kerbey (2011).
On Sunday, three SEGS members enjoyed a stop at Providence Canyon State Park, “The Little Grand Canyon of the Southeast” is located about 6.5 miles west of Lumpkin. This remarkable erosional feature formed as a tributary to the Chattahoochee River, and has cut through 150 feet of multicolored sand layers of (primarily) the Late Cretaceous-age, kaolin-rich Providence Sand. Surprisingly, this canyon did not exist in the early 1800’s. Poor farming practices accentuated erosion, which, once having removed the clay-rich, resistant cap (Paleocene-age Clayton Formation), the friable Providence sands were easily removed and erosional gullies rapidly deepened. At Providence Canyon, SEGS members Andy Lawn, Demetri Leventis, and Ralph Craig collected specimens of hematite with botryoidal texture, and even found an iron-rich fulgurite!
Special thanks go to SEGS member Bill Rollins for suggesting this trip, and setting up our contacts to access the quarry, and to Andy Lawn for taking care of logistical details.
- Barineau, C, 2015, A Field Guide to the Geology of the Coastal Plain Unconformity: Eastern Alabama-Western Georgia. Southeastern Geological Society Guidebook No. 65.
- Kerbey, HC, 2011, Itacolumite, ﬂexible sandstone and ﬂexible quartzite – a review. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 122:16-24.
- Steltenpohl, MG, (ed.), 2005, Southernmost Appalachian Terranes, Alabama and Georgia. Field Trip Guidebook for the Geological Society of America Southeastern Section Meeting. Published by the Alabama Geological Society
SEGS-FAPG Virginia Key Deep Well, March 31 – April 1, 2017
The SEGS and Florida Association of Professional Geologists (FAPG) jointly hosted a field trip to observe drilling and coring operations, and learn about deep Florida geology and hydrogeology during installation of a large wastewater injection well on Virginia Key, east of Miami Florida. We’re grateful to the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, coordinated through Virginia Walsh, PhD, P.G., for providing this unique opportunity and site access.
On Friday, March 31, 2017, FAPG and SEGS held a brief business meeting with Legislative update, followed by a technical presentation titled “Cenozoic and Late Mesozoic Geology and Hydrogeology of a 10,000 foot Exploratory Well, Virginia Key, Florida” by Ms. Walsh and Mr. Ed Rectenwald, P.G. Twenty three attendees met Saturday morning, April 1, 2017, at the Virginia Key Central District Waste Water Treatment Plant for an overview of the geology, hydrogeology and deep well drilling operations by onsite geologist Ed Rectenwald, P.G., USGS field personnel, and Youngquist Brothers, Inc., drilling company. Attendees enjoyed seeing the deepest geologic cores collected in the State and touring the large drilling rig that produces cores from 10,000 feet below land surface! The project team discussed characteristics of the deep specimens, hydrogeology, geophysical logging methods, and rig components and capabilities.
Lake Wales Ridge Sand Pits, February 25, 2017
Guidebook #70 (PDF – 5.6 MB)
Our first trip of 2017 was inspired by students in the USF Geology Department, who asked long-time SEGS member (and Past-President) Marc Hurst and colleagues at C.C. Calhoun, Inc., if they would allow students to access sand pits on the Lake Wakes Ridge. Marc agreed and graciously provided SEGS the opportunity to coordinate the trip as a revisit to our sand mining trip in October 2010 (Guidebook #50). This was a great opportunity to see, touch, and learn about Pio-Pleistocene Cypresshead Formation sands and hunt for fulgurites, which are abiotic fossils – melted sand remnants of lightning strikes – Florida’s metamorphic rock!
The weather was beautiful, therefore some camped at nearby Lake Rosalie Park & Campground Friday night to awake early and proximal to the sand pits. Those who spent the weekend in Lake Wales experienced how expansive mining operations are in the central Florida region, with very large sand mining and cement manufacturing operations on the ridge, and phosphate mining to the north and west in Polk County, as made obvious by massive drag-line lights that could be seen many miles away, across the lake after dark.
We met Saturday morning at the entrance of C.C. Calhoun, Inc.’s Pit No. 1 at 1280 Old Scenic Hwy., Lake Wales. Marc, Clint (President), Andy (Treasurer) and Dr. Matt Pasek (USF professor and fulgurite expert) herded the crowd of seventy nine (79!) attendees for discussions regarding Cypresshead Formation sands, fulgurites, and of course, safety within the mines. The massive pits of multi-colored sands and extreme topographic relief, with many geologists climbing around, made for some terrific photos. Members had great fortune finding nice specimens, making our decision to provide all attendees small fulgurite specimens at the pre-trip meeting seem unnecessarily generous.
After a couple of hours, we moved to Pit No. 4 at 1250 Detour Rd, Haines City, where we continued collecting until lunch – boxes from subway; complimentary to all 55 students, courtesy of SEGS. During lunch we held our first quarterly business meeting, where we were pleased to gain a few student members and more committee volunteers, to help SEGS be even more productive on our mission “To advance geosciences knowledge of our members and communities by encouraging professional and social relationships, and providing field trips and meetings with interactive technical presentations.”
Mosaic Phosphate Mine, Bowling Green, July 30, 2016
Guidebook #67(PDF – 7.7 MB)
On July 30, 2016, the SEGS hosted a field trip to the Mosaic Company’s South Pasture Mine in Bowling Green, Florida to examine the geology and observe mining operations. The field trip was well-attended by 29 enthusiastic SEGS members and 3 Mosaic representatives. The group gathered for a dinner meeting in Lakeland the evening before the field trip. We were enlightened with presentations by Peter Karashay, geologist with the South Pasture Mine, Ravi Nalamothu, P.E. with HSW Engineering, and Sam Upchurch, P.G., Ph.D. The field trip was led by Tom Scott, P.G., Ph.D. and Peter Karashay, and included tours of dragline excavations, washer pits, oversize piles, settling ponds, beneficiation systems consisting of flotation and chemical processes, and land restoration/reclamation, including a mature 32-year-old cypress wetland. Participants were also allowed to search for fossils amid processed debris piles. Fossils encountered included Miocene and Pliocene-age vertebrates and invertebrates of terrestrial and marine origin. Typical specimens include material from large sharks, dugongs, marine mammals (whales), crustaceans, echinoids, fossilized wood, horses, elephants, sting rays, and mollusks.
Cemex Center Hill Mine Trip, December 3rd, 2016
Guidebook #69 (PDF – 2.6 MB)
On Friday, December 2, 2016, SEGS hosted a dinner meeting at a Center Hill, Florida restaurant that included a presentation regarding Cemex’s limestone aggregate mining and cement production operations. SEGS Officers present also held a 2016 Year-End SEGS Business Meeting.
On Saturday, we visited the mine located about 45 miles west of Orlando, along with members of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club. We enjoyed meeting and interacting with these folks, and express our gratitude to Cemex staff who accommodated all of us, including use of their PPE (gloves were required in addition to the usual hardened-toe boots, hard hat and safety glasses).
We viewed maps of the mine and learned of Cemex’s water management operations, then canvassed accessible areas to hunt fossils. We collected Eocene Ocala Limestone marine fossils including mollusks, echinoids, crabs and large foraminifera. Some marine vertebrates (dugong) and terrestrial vertebrates associated with infilled karst features that the dragline mining process exposes were also found, along with interesting and some colorful chert precipitates.
Cote Blanche Island, Salt Dome Mine, October 13th, 2016
Guidebook #68 (PDF – 6.5 MB)
On Friday, October 13, 2016, the SEGS hosted a field trip to the Compass Minerals’ Cote Blanche salt mine located on the Louisiana coast south of Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Our objective was to examine the geology and observe mining operations in a salt dome. Cote Blanche is one of five forested “islands” that rise 75-171 ft above the surrounding marsh and sugar cane fields of coastal Louisiana. They are arranged on a NW/SE trend and all are surface expressions of salt diapirism.
Sixteen members of The SEGS met at R&M’s Boiling Point Cajun restaurant on Thursday evening to socialize, eat Cajun seafood, participate in a business meeting, and to listen to a presentation by Mr. Michael Nixon – mine engineer for Compass Minerals. Mr. Nixon gave an overview of the Compass Minerals company, salt diapirism and the formation of the Cote Blanche salt deposit, the history of salt mining in coastal Louisiana, and mining methods used at the Cote Blanche mine. (Compass Minerals has plans for 50 – 100 years of mining operations; they have 20,000 vertical feet of salt reserves.)
The field trip started with a safety briefing and outfitting everyone with safety gear. The mine was inactive due to planned maintenance activities. We all descended in a cylindrical elevator “car” to the 1500 ft level where we loaded into 5-person utility vehicles to tour the mine. We observed the surprisingly homogeneous salt deposits, zones of dark banding – stratigraphic salt layers containing 2-4% anhydrite, clay and other impurities that have been tilted to near-vertical orientation and folded as the plastic salt mass flowed during diapiric intrusion. We also observed a large “sandstone” silty red sand body that was either deposited with the salt or incorporated into the salt during diapirism.
The Compass Minerals staff showed us how the salt is excavated, transported in the mine, processed, and moved to the surface; and how the mine is maintained.
We were amazed at the size of the equipment that was used to mine and transport the salt in the mine. All material in the mine is lowered via the 16-ft diameter lift. Equipment is disassembled and, if necessary, cut into pieces before being lowered into the mine – to be reassembled. The factor limiting the size of the equipment used in the mine is the tires – they are the only component that cannot be disassembled or cut apart and reassembled. At the end of its service life, equipment is retired in the mine and not brought back to the surface.
After we completed our tour of the mine and collected samples of salt and “sandstone” we returned to the surface for a BBQ lunch and discussion of what we had seen.
After departing the Cote Blanche mine, several of us visited nearby Avery Island, site of the world famous Tabasco Pepper Sauce operation. We capped-off the day with another Cajun dinner in New Iberia.
We are grateful to Dr. Jon Bryan of NW Florida State College for having arranged this extraordinary field trip and for compiling an outstanding guidebook. We are also very grateful to Compass Minerals for making the mine and their staff available to The SEGS.
Everglades National Park, February 12th – 14th, 2016
Guidebook #66 (PDF – 4.3 MB)
On February 12th through 14th, 2016, we gathered in the Everglades and Islamorada, Florida, for a meeting and field trip to Everglades National Park (ENP) to examine the Geology of the Everglades, Keys, and South Florida. An additional trip on Sunday visited the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. The Saturday field trip, led by Dr. Tom Scott and Dr. Sam Upchurch, was very well attended with approximately 40 participants.
For our Friday evening meeting, we met at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Miami. Dr. Harold R. Wanless, Ph.D gave a presentation titled The Geologic Evolution of the Everglades from Beginning to End, the Last 5,000 Years and the Next 100.
On Saturday morning, we all met at the Visitor’s Center and had some time to browse the exhibits. We then loaded up in vehicles and entered the park to begin our field trip which focused on the unique geological setting in south Florida that led to the development of one of the largest wetlands in the United States. The first stop was the Pine Rockland region in the northern portion of ENP, where we discussed the development of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, the Miami Limestone and the micro-karst that has developed since the deposition of the Miami Limestone approximately 125,000 years ago. The slightly higher elevation on the ridge created the foundation for the unique ecosystem that comprises the Pine Rocklands. We then headed south into the heart of ENP, reviewing the origin of Rock Reef Pass and other linear, slightly elevated features that occur in the Everglades. We stopped at Pa-Hay-Okee to observe and explore a hardwood hammock and look at the modern deposition of peat that is occurring in the sawgrass wetlands that surround the hardwood hammocks and discussed the development of the tree islands and their geologic origin.
Other stops included Paurotis Pond where modern freshwater marl (consisting of low-Mg calcite) is accumulating, West Lake where we saw a modern mangrove forest, and Flamingo-Florida Bay where we observed a coastal storm levee consisting of marine mud and discussed the modern carbonate environments. Lots of wildlife was also observed including many types of birds, tree snails, alligators, turtles, and fish. We all enjoyed a “build your own sandwich” lunch out in the park.
On Sunday morning, a guided hike/tour was held at Windley Key Geological State Park. Starting in the early 1900’s, this quarry was active into the 1960s and today stands as a preserved geological treasure. The clean cuts of the quarry machinery revealed the preserved fossilized specimens of a variety of ancient coral animals. The limestone cuts also reveal the thin layer of soil that supports the abundant variety of botanical life that thrives in the subtropical environment of the Florida Keys. Formed of Key Largo limestone (fossilized coral), this land was sold to the Florida East Coast Railroad and was used to help build Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s. After the railroad was built, the quarry was used until the 1960s to produce exquisite pieces of decorative stone called Keystone. We walked within the eight foot-high quarry walls to see cross sections of the ancient coral reef formed nearly 125,000 years ago and learned about the quarry and its operation—an important part of Florida’s 20th century history.
Coastal Plain Unconformity, November 6th and 7th, 2015
Guidebook #65 (PDF – 10 MB)
On November 6th and 7th, 2015, we gathered in Columbus, Georgia, for a meeting and field trip to view the Coastal Plain Unconformity (Fall Line) in southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama. The field trip, led by Dr. Clint Barineau, Associate Professor of Geology, Department of Earth and Space Sciences at Columbus State University, was very well attended with approximately 40 participants.
For our Friday evening meeting, we met at the “11th and Bay Southern Table” restaurant. Dr. Clint Barineau provided an overview into what to expect during the field trip. Harley Means also received the SEGS fulgurite award for serving as SEGS Treasurer for many years.
On Saturday morning, we all met at the Columbus State University parking lot and headed out in vans. We travelled through parts of southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama to examine the coastal plain unconformity, separating the GA-AL Piedmont terranes from Coastal Plain strata that is exposed in the Columbus region and separates Precambrian to Paleozoic rocks of the Uchee belt, Pine Mountain belt, Dadeville Complex, and Opelika Complex in the Piedmont from Late Cretaceous rocks of the Tuscaloosa Group/Formation at the northern extent of the Gulf-Atlantic Coastal Plain. Some of the highlights included: paleochannels, Phenix City Gneiss, Columbus Urban Whitewater Course, Mesozoic Diabase Dike, Hollis Quartzite, Camp Hill Granite, and the Wetumpka Impact Crater as it was getting dark. We all enjoyed a “build your own sandwich” lunch at Dowdell’s Knob in FDR State Park.
Honeymoon Island Field Trip, June 2015
Guidebook #64 (PDF – 6 MB)
On Saturday, June 13, 2015 SEGS conducted a field trip to examine beach erosion processes and efforts by the State of Florida to remedy a segment of critically eroded beach on the southern Gulf shoreline at Honeymoon Island State Park. Honeymoon Island suffers from an unnatural shoreline orientation and a deep offshore area, both of which created by a developer who dredged the area in the 1960s. The dredging operation objective was gathering fill to widen the island into the Gulf of Mexico. The operation produced a shoreline out of equilibrium with waves and currents, and a steep bathymetric profile, both of which lead to expedited erosion.
On Friday, prior to the field trip, we enjoyed a dinner meeting where Dr. Jennifer Coor (Engineering, Hydrology and Geology Program, Division of Water Resources Management, FDEP) and Candace Beauvais (FDEP) introduced us to the ROSSI coastal management model for identifying offshore sand sources that may be compatible with beaches and re-nourishment projects. Dr. Mark Horwitz (University of South Florida – USF) presented information on historical and modern morpho-dynamics of the area. It was interesting to see examples of stable, vs. eroding, vs.pro-grading shorelines.
During the field trip we observed results of the altered shoreline orientation and nearshore bathymetry. Mr. Brett Moore (Hermiston & Moore Engineers) discussed results of earlier phases of remedial action, recent construction of several low-profile T-groins, and preparation for additional remedial activities (pumping of sand onto the beach).
Dr. Roger Portell (University of Florida) discussed invertebrate fossils preserved in carbonates dredged and deposited onto the beach during the 1960s. Dr. Sam Upchurch (USF) discussed mineralogy of carbonates excavated offshore and deposited on the beach, and the existence of flint and chert that were mined by Native Americans as much as 12,000 years ago. Dr. Upchurch explained that flint usually appears black, and chert is more commonly grey or brown, and flint is actually more clear than chert (both SiO2), in thin-section. This phenomenon is due to a more complex molecular structure of flint than chert, which scatters light more, causing flint to appear denser and darker. Dr. Upchurch went on to explain that artifacts made of flint vs. chert can help age the artifact creators. The dark flint is deeper, thus farther out in the Gulf; therefore, Native Americans settled for lower quality material (chert, then agatized coral [which currently outcrops], as sea level rose over the past several thousand years of glacial melting.
The SEGS would like to extend our gratitude to our speakers and field trip leaders mentioned above and would also like to give a big thank you to Peter Krulder who is the park manager for Honeymoon Island State Park. He waived the entrance fee for SEGS members and escorted the group during our visit to the park. Florida’s state parks are some of the few places left where unspoiled remnants of Florida’s unique environments remain. Restoring the beaches along this barrier island will benefit both the local economy and the ecology of the area.
Jeckyl Island, Georgia, April 10th – 12th, 2015
On April 10th through 12th, 2015, we gathered in Folkston and Jekyll Island, Georgia, for a meeting and field trip to Southern Ionics heavy mineral sand mining operation. An additional trip on Sunday focused on paleo and modern day coastal depositional environments. The Saturday field trip, led by Jim Renner, the Manager of Environmental Stewardship at Southern Ionics, was very well attended with approximately 60 participants. It was a joint field trip between the SEGS and the American Institute of Professional Geologists-Florida Association of Professional Geologists (AIPG-FAPG).
For our Friday evening meeting, we met at the Villas By The Sea conference room on Jekyll Island, where most of the field trip participants were also staying. Jim Renner of Southern Ionics gave a presentation on mine safety and other visitor requirements. He also provided an insight into what to expect during the field trip. Phil Leary, AIPG-FAPG’s legislative lobbyist, provided a brief overview of the state legislative process and discussed how legislative involvement helps protect the scope of practice for geologists. Two technical presentations were also given. Fred Pirkle, Ph.D. P.G., gave a presentation entitled “Heavy Mineral Exploration Models Based on Fluvial, Deltaic, and Coastal Marine Sedimentation.” This presentation summarized the exploration and evaluation of heavy mineral deposits. Norm Stouffer, a mining engineer, presented on heavy mineral sand process engineering. John Herbert also received the SEGS fulgurite award for serving as SEGS president, 2013-2014.
On Saturday morning, we all met at the Villas by the Sea parking lot and headed to the Folkston, GA area. We met at the mine office and Jim presented an overview of what to expect for the day. The following elements were observed at the mine site: active mine pit, ore stockpile and screening, the wet mill (which provided a beautiful bird’s eye view of the entire area), reclamation areas, hydrologic monitoring network, and sensitive resources such as wetlands and gopher tortoise habitat. We all enjoyed a Subway boxed lunch back at the mine office.
On Saturday evening, Anne Murray and Helen Hickman of the AIPG-FAPG hosted a cocktail hour on one of the Jekyll Island beach pavilions. Representatives from AIPG-FAPG and SEGS presented information on the current news and goals of these organizations. These included Dr. Foster Sawyer, AIPG National President, who joined us from Rapid City where he is a professor at the South Dakota School of Mines; Anne Murray, AIPG-FAPG president; and Greg Mudd, SEGS president.
On Sunday morning, a guided hike was held to observe active coastal processes, sensitive environments, Quaternary stratigraphy, salt marshes, tidal creeks, marine transgression sequences, and heavy mineral deposition/concentration at Jekyll Island Beaches. We hiked along the north end of the island known as Driftwood or Boneyard Beach at low tide to see fully exposed marshes and sediment. Oren Reedy, P.G., a wetland soil scientist with local knowledge lead the hike.
Alapaha River/Cody Scarp Area of North Florida, November 7, 8 and 9, 2014
Guidebook #63 (PDF – 13.8 MB)
Many of our growing membership took advantage of this record-attendance SEGS field trip to see and learn about fantastic examples of karst geology in north Florida. Sixty seven SEGS members and guests, including eighteen students from USF, NWFSC and UF gathered for this technical-info heavy event at the Alapaha River/Cody Scarp Area, where we obtained permitted access onto two private properties as well as gated State and Suwannee River Water Management District lands. We gathered for Friday dinner in the Lodge at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground for several technical presentations with details included in Guidebook #63 compiled by Andy Lawn, with excerpts from his Master’s thesis regarding the Alapaha River, and contributions from Sam Upchurch, Rick Copeland and Clint Kromhout. We had the great fortune of all three authors of ROADSIDE GEOLOGY OF FLORIDA present for a book signing – Jon Bryan, Tom Scott and Guy (Harley) Means. Saturday trip stops included: 1) Law Sink, a very large ponor/sink that’s hidden behind dense overgrowth and great live oaks where we observed water falling into the 80 ft deep sink. Ron Ceryak and Rick Copeland talked about the surficial-aquifer spring waterfalls and exposed Hawthorn Group siliclastics and St Marks formation limestone, 2) Jennings Bluff Cemetery and River Vista where Tom Scott and Ron Ceryak talked about the history of Hamilton County and the first residents, 3) Alapaha River and 4) – Dead River Ponor/Sink where Tom Scott, Sam Upchurch and Andy Lawn talked about hydrogeology of the region, 5) Alapaha River Rise Confluence with the Suwannee where Harley Means and Dave DeWitt talked about human history in the area with Mike Knapp citing facts about early Indian populations and names that current residents adopted for towns and features in the area, and 6) Holton Creek where Wink Winkler, Dave DeWitt and Andy Lawn talked about the regional karst features and Florida’s old-growth cypress. After a full day of fun and education we returned to the Music Park for another buffet dinner with entertainment by Irish Band Kanapaha, then Sunday morning did a 3-hour canoe/kayak trip down the Suwannee River.
Cumberland Island, Georgia, September 26-27, 2014
Guidebook #62 (PDF – 22MB)
On September 26, 2014. SEGS held the Cumberland Island dinner meeting at the Riverview Hotel located in quaint and historic downtown St. Marys GA. Field trip leaders for SEGS were Clint Noble and Fred Pirkle, with technical assistance and guidebook information provided by Fredrick Rich, Ph.D of Georgia Southern University and Gale Bishop, Ph.D Emeritus of Georgia Southern University and Director of the schools Natural History Mueseum. Following the business meeting, a technical presentation was given via powerpoint in the hotel’s restaurant while attendees dined. Gnarled Live Oaks in a Cumberland Island Maritime Forest. The Friday evening presentation was given jointly by Dr. Rich and Dr. Bishop. It focused on the geomorphology of the Georgia Barrier Islands, with specific attention given to St. Catherines Island and it’s contrast/resemblance to Cumberland Island with regard to its development from the early Pleistocene through the Holocene. A great discussion ensued regarding various aspects of the geology of Cumberland Island, sea-level fluctuations and their impacts on both Cumberland Island and the St. Mary’s River (some of the bluffs along the river), and the transport and accumulation of sediment along this portion of the Atlantic coast. Field trip participants march across dune field, from the maritime forest that it is overtaking, toward the sediment source.
On Saturday, September 27, we visited the island. Dr. Rich discussed the back dune ridge complex at the Dungeness Dune Crossing located on the southern end of Cumberland Island. It is a remarkable geomorphic feature where a landward advancing dune has buried a former maritime forest adjacent to a salt marsh. We walked along the dune and observed the tops of partially-exposed fossil trees which have been dated at 270 years. According to Dr. Rich much change has occurred in the landscape of Cumberland Island in a very short geologic timeframe. Editor poses with the crowns of partially-exposed, 270-year-old, live oak fossils, in a particularly bad place to build condominiums. Dr. Bishop, an expert in sea turtles, discussed how he has mapped paleo-shorelines using fossilized sea turtle nests. Dr. Rich revealing the sex life of horseshoe crabs. Dr. Rich discussed the remarkable nature of horseshoe crabs, prevalent on Cumberland Island. Their blood is prized for its ability to identify bacteria contamination on surgical equipment, intravenous drugs and vaccines.
Santa Fe River, Florida, June 28, 2014
Guidebook #61 (PDF – 2MB)
On June 28, 2014, SEGS hosted a field trip to the Santa Fe River in north-central Florida. The Santa Fe River is fed by numerous springs, including Ginnie Springs and Poe Springs, and is a major tributary of the Suwannee River. The river dissects an area that has been extensively karstified, and spans part of a transition zone between confined and unconfined regions of the Floridan aquifer system. The river originates in Northern and Central Highlands of the eastern part of the basin where the Floridan aquifer system is confined and overlain by clay and limestone sediments of the Hawthorn Group that create an intermediate aquifer system and upper confining unit, and variably thick sands that create a discontinuous surficial aquifer system. From there, it flows onto the Gulf Coastal Lowlands where the Floridan aquifer system is unconfined and either exposed at the land surface or overlain only by variably thick sands.
The trip was led by Peter Butt, part owner of Karst Environmental Services, Inc., and was attended by 23 SEGS members and their guests. A dinner meeting was held at the Conestoga Restaurant in Alachua, Florida on the evening before the trip. Pete showed us pictures and maps of the areas we would visit tomorrow. We also saw the aftermath of his alligator encounter! On Saturday morning, canoes and kayaks took us along the stretch of river located between Highways 27 and 47 near High Springs, Florida. We visited Labatt’s Blue Spring, Fenceline Spring, Poe Springs, and Watermelon Springs. We moved onto Lilly Springs, where we met and chatted with the local personality and springs caretaker Naked Ed (yes, he lives up to his name!). After leaving Naked Ed, we encountered Rum Island and Blue Springs Group. We took a break at the Blue Springs Park and cooled off in the spring water. Downstream from there we observed Devils Eye/Ear Group, July Spring, and Ginnie Springs, where we stopped for lunch provided by the Ginnie Springs park café. After lunch, we headed further downstream to Siphon Creek Cave System, Big Awesome Suck, Little Awesome Suck, Camp Spring, Tract One Siphon, and Myrtle’s Crack. Some were brave enough to test out the “cracks” by cooling off in their depths. The canoes and kayaks were taken out at Santa Fe River County Park and everyone caught the shuttle back to the rental location.
Crystal River, Florida Limestone Mines, March 8, 2014
Guidebook #60 (PDF – 5.9MB)
On March 7th and 8th, 2014 we gathered in Crystal River, Florida, for a meeting and field trip to three locations of Crystal River Quarries. This field trip, led by Tom Scott, was very well attended with 60 participants. The Red Level Mine, Maylen Pits, and Lecanto Quarry are active facilities that mine the Eocene-aged Avon Park Limestone and the Ocala Limestone.
For our Friday evening meeting, we met at the Boat House Restaurant. David Tegeder and Steven Noll, professor in the History Department at the University of Florida, and one of the co-authors of the book entitled “Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida’s Future” gave the Friday evening presentation. The Barge Canal was just up the road from our meeting and field trip locations. As we learned in the presentation, the Barge Canal project was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers as “not worthy,” but the project received continued support from Florida legislators. Federal funding was eventually allocated and work began in the 1930s, but the canal quickly became a controversial project. Thanks to the unprecedented success of environmental citizen activists, construction was halted in 1971, though it took another twenty years for the project to be cancelled. Though the land intended for the canal was deeded to the state and converted into the Cross Florida Greenway, certain aspects of the dispute–including the fate of Rodman Reservoir–have yet to be resolved. Their book was available for purchase, but can also be purchased on Amazon and appears to be a very interesting read!
On Saturday morning, we all met at the Holiday Inn Express parking lot and headed to Stop #1, the Lecanto Quarry, where we were lucky to find some amazing calcite. Crystals from here are displayed in museums worldwide. Some serious rock banging ensued and most went home with a prize. Stop #2 was the Maylen Pits where some very cool limestone pinnacles were observed. Here we enjoyed a Subway boxed lunch while sitting on limestone (where else would a geologist want to sit for lunch?). Finally, stop #3 was to the Red Level Mine. Some well-preserved fossils were uncovered and we got to see a dragline up close.
Ochlocknee and Little River Mines Field Trip, February 15th and 16th, 2013
Guidebook #58 (PDF – 1.2MB)
We held our 2013 Annual Meeting on February 15 in Thomasville, Georgia and a field trip to the Ochlocknee and Little River mines in the Palygorskite district of north Florida-south Georgia the following day. At the meeting Mr. Alex Grover, who was coincidentally in the area prospecting for Palygorskite on a nearby property, gave a talk entitled “Palywhat??” That presentation oriented us for Saturday’s excursion. While on outcrop we heard some spirited debate regarding the depositional environment and genesis of the unique clay deposits. Opinions regarding genesis of the clay deposits fell into two camps: 1) volcanic ash deposits and 2) a hypersaline restricted marine environment that went critical with respect to these clay minerals. We also discussed the Miccosukee Formation deposits that were beautifully exposed over the palygorskite and observed channel cut-and-fill structures, cross bedding and thin laminations reflecting the depositional environment.
Graves Mountain Field Trip, October 20th, 2012
Our 2012 Graves Mountain Field Trip was based in Thomson, GA. Graves Mountain is a quartz-kyanite monadnock that contains a variety of oxide and phosphate trace mineralization. Rutile, limonite, lazulite, kyanite, and quartz specimens are prized by collectors. The deposit was first mined by the famous Tiffany jewelers, who recovered large rutile crystals that they used to make costume jewelry. More recently, and more extensively, it was mined for kyanite (a refractory material) and byproduct pyrite, a source of sulfur. Student attendance was outstanding, including large student groups from Northwest Florida State College and the University of Georgia. Cool temperatures, fall foliage, metamorphic rocks, and world-class mineral collecting were well received.
Central Florida Phosphate District Field Trip, August 10th and 11th, 2012
Guidebook #57 (PDF – 6MB)
SEGS and FAPG-AIPG met in Lakeland, Florida. Jon Courtney led a field trip to Mosaic’s South Fort Meade Mine, where we examined the extraordinarily phosphate-rich sediments of the Bone Valley Member of the Peace River Formation. A wide variety of marine and terrestrial, vertebrate and invertebrate, fossils were collected; and we took a ride on one of the large draglines. Phosphate mine tours are always popular. The event was overbooked; but thanks to some last-minute cancellations we managed to comply with the 40 person limit, without turning anyone away. It’s nice when things work out.
SMR Aggregates Field Trip, May 18th and 19th, 2012
Guidebook #56 (PDF – 4MB)
SEGS gathered in Sarasota, Florida, for a meeting and field trip to SMR Aggregates where the shell beds of the Plio-Pleistocene Tamiami Formation are mined, including the paleontologically famous Pinecrest Beds. According to field trip leader Roger Portell, the pits “contain some of the most species rich and densely packed fossil horizons known in the world. The Pinecrest Beds alone may contain over 1,000 species of shelled marine mollusks.” A variety of vertebrate fossils were found, too, including whale vertebra, horse bones, and shark teeth.
Florida Caverns Field Trip, February 25th and 26th, 2012
Guidebook #55 (PDF – 2.2 MB)
The SEGS 2012 Annual Meeting and Field Trip was held in Marianna, Florida, where we visited Florida Caverns State Park. Almost 40 people, including 7 past presidents, gathered at the dinner meeting to hear Darrel Tremaine’s presentation on cave microclimates and variations in dripwater and speleothem chemistry. Dave DeWitt and Andy Lawn were presented with the “Fulgurite Award” for “leadership with the energy and focus of lightning.” After dinner we returned to the Florida Caverns State Park for an underground flashlight tour. The next day we visited the Florida Hi Cal Pit to see the Eocene/Oligocene boundary and the Bumpnose Member of the Ocala Limestone.
Providence Canyon in west-central Georgia, Feb.19th, 2011
Guidebook #52 (PDF – 4 MB)
This field trip, led by Carl Froede, was a day-tour of “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon” in and around Providence Canyon State Park where Late Cretaceous to Eocene strata are exposed as a result of massive gully erosion (as deep as 150 feet) caused by poor farming practices during the early nineteenth century. Regional tectonism, sea level changes, paleocontinental shelf facies shifts, groundwater ferricretes, and surface stream runoff were discussed at various outcrops during the trip. An abundance of colorful geology and flora was observed in and around the canyons, making this a memorable trip!
Fall 2010 Field Trip, Alum Bluff in the Florida Panhandle
Guidebook #51 (PDF – 3.4 MB)
The Alum Bluff field trip on the Apalachicola River was held on Nov. 20, 2010 in the Florida panhandle. Many thanks to all who attended, and especially to Harley Means of the Florida Geological Survey for organizing the trip, and to the FGS for facilitating transport to this unique exposure of Tertiary deposits containing copious fossil material. Additional thanks are in order for both Roger Portell, Director of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History (and the new SEGS VP), and to former Assistant State Geologist Tom Scott, for sharing their immense geological knowledge during the trip. Camping at Torreya State Park was awesome, and added to the adventure and enjoyment of spending time in north Florida in the fall. We are sure to return to this area for future SEGS field trips! Photos from the Alum Bluff trip, including some of the fossils discovered at the Bluff, will be posted on the Photos page soon.
Central Florida’s Sand Mining District field trip, October 16, 2010
Guidebook #50 (PDF – 6.8 MB)
The SEGS and the FAPG-AIPG/Florida Section co-hosted a USF Geology student field trip, led by Marc Hurst, to the Lake Wales Ridge Central Florida Sand Mining District on October 16, 2010. The SEGS and FAPG-AIPG offered this field trip primarily for USF Geology students to learn about the sand mining operations on the Lake Wales Ridge in central Florida. We had 35 USF students and faculty attend along with about 15 others from the SEGS, including the trip leaders and representatives of the mining companies. This trip will probably be offered again to other student groups from the other fine geology departments at our state’s universities.
2010 Annual Meeting and Field Trip at Wekiva Springs, May 14-15
Guidebook #49 (PDF – 15.9 MB)
The SEGS 2010 meeting and field trip was held in Central Florida on May 14th and 15th. Our business meeting and dinner was on Friday evening, May 14th at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Altamonte Springs, which included a catered barbeque dinner and complimentary beverages from Marriott. We gratefully thank the kind staff at the Residence Inn for our meeting accommodations and their hospitality. A total of 13 active and new members attended the dinner meeting, we could have used a few more active members, but it was still a good meeting with fruitful discussions.
The field trip on Saturday, May 15th began at Wekiwa Springs State Park where we talked about the area geology and hydrogeology of springs in central Florida, followed by a morning canoeing trip on the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. We had a nice group of 14 for the springs visit and lunch at the state park. The afternoon field stop was at Wolf Branch Sink in neighboring Lake County which was facilitated by Walter Wood, who arranged access to the property. This is an impressive swallet feature located in the active karst terrain west of Wekiva and Rock Springs, and it even has a small waterfall cutting down through lower Hawthorn sediments to the well-developed sink. This locality will definitely stay on the list of places to visit for future SEGS field trips in peninsular Florida.