Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What a Geologist Sees - Part 23b (Originally published 10/20/08)

As a follow-up to What a Geologist Sees - Part 23...

Here are a few photos from our Boy Scout trip to Providence Canyons State Park, in Stewart County, GA. It had changed a bit since my last visit, close to 30 years ago and I learned a few new things (Yeah, we old dogs can learn once in a while).

The canyons are not getting any deeper, they have "bottomed out" at about 150 feet deep, but they are continually getting wider, in some places 3 - 5 feet of rim are being lost per year. One park road had been abandoned as the rim approached. I don't really see any way to stop it.

My first trip to Providence Canyons, as a Georgia Southern undergrad, was about 35 years ago and it was part of a field trip to the area, so we didn't have time to hike down in the canyons themselves, this time we did hike up the braided stream deposits (third photo), then up to the visitor's center. From there we hiked around the rim. After stopping for lunch, another of the Assistant Scoutmasters and I left to go back to the visitor's center for a wildflower ID tour, so we missed going back down into the canyon to see the walls "up close and personal".

Some of the new things I learned were that in the Providence Formation, there are some kaolinitic clay beds within the delta sands; the underlying clays in the Ripley Formation are preventing the further downcutting in the canyons, and that Providence Canyons was one signature away from becoming a national park, back in the 1930s. The ranger didn't say who didn't sign on.

Some of the visitors suggested that some of the Providence Canyons features reminded them of Zion National Park (I haven't been there or to Bryce Canyon, so I couldn't say that one way or another). The main difference is that the Colorado Plateau sedimentary rocks are a little harder than the soft sands and clays of the Providence Formation, so Zion doesn't change as fast as Providence Canyons.

I do regret not stepping a few yards from the braided stream to the nearby bluff base to get some close-up photos of the Wild Pink Azaleas, which bloom in the spring and then again in the fall. The two shots I took weren't clear enough to keep.

If I do get to visit Providence Canyons again, I won't wait another 30 years.

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