June for Geology: Walks and Talks by Fernbank Geologist and Author

Fernbank Science Center Geologist and co-author of Roadside Geology of Georgia Dr. Bill Witherspoon will hit the road on three June weekends to give geology programs for the general public at several of Georgia’s favorite destinations. Roadside Geology of Georgia (Mountain Press Publishing, 2013) “takes the general reader to Georgia’s natural wonders and explains the science that lies behind the scenery,” according to Witherspoon, and his walks and talks extend this theme.

Witherspoon will show visitors the geology that makes Amicalola Falls, one of the highest cascading waterfalls (729 feet) east of the Mississippi River, in a walk on June 6 at 11:00 AM. The following afternoon, June 7, at 1:00 at the Amicalola Falls Visitor Center, he will present “River Rivalries: the Battle That Made Georgia Mountain Scenery.” The slideshow illustrates how competition between eroding streams created scenic features, such as Tallulah Gorge, Amicalola Falls, and steep mountain slopes across Northeast Georgia.

At 3:30 on June 7, Witherspoon will speak at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. The slideshow “Geology, Gold, and the Making of Georgia” tells how Georgia’s gold became concentrated over a time span of half a billion years, then sparked America’ s first gold rush that contributed to the state’s unique character.

The following weekend, Witherspoon will visit FD Roosevelt State Park for a June 14 walk along the crest of Pine Mountain. The 9:30 AM walk will be followed by a slide program, “The Ridge that Drew Roosevelt: the Origin and Life of Pine Mountain and Warm Springs.” Appearing with him will be Georgia State University biogeographer Dr. Leslie Edwards, co-author of Natural Communities of Georgia (UGA Press, 2013). She will show why Pine Mountain is famous among botanists as a “geographic crossroads” where plants from the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and mountains can be found in close proximity.

On June 28, the two authors will team up again to reveal the geology of Brasstown Bald and how it influences plants and animals. In a slide program, “A Window through Time: Geology and Nature at Georgia’s Highest Summit,” Witherspoon shows how Brasstown Bald’s craggy rocks, with their tiny red garnets, are surrounded by very different rocks from a far-distant ocean floor. Edwards will explain, both in the talk and on the walk that follows, how the peak is like an “island in the sky,” sheltering plants that were more widespread in the southeast when the climate was cooler, and are now in their southernmost outpost here.

Anna Ruby Falls, near Helen, is the last June stop for Witherspoon. On June 29 at 1:00 he will repeat a geology walk that drew a good crowd last year, despite a particularly rainy day.

All events are free with admission to the respective venues. Attendees who register for these and other upcoming Roadside Geology of Georgia author events are eligible for a COOL BILLION-year-old rock. Register at georgiarocks.us/events or “Join” in facebook.com/RoadsideGeologyGA/events.

Contact for information: Dr. Bill Witherspoon, Fernbank Science Center, 678-874-7150, Bill_Witherspoon@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us.