Cloudland Canyon, located on Lookout Mountain in Dade County, offers visitors a wide variety of geologic wonders, including outcroppings, waterfalls, and, as the name implies, precipitous canyons. Such scenic variety is due to changing tectonic activity over a geologic timescale. According to the Georgia Encyclopedia, the upper Piedmont region is separated from the Valley and Ridge because of a great tear in the crust called the Cartersville Fault. The rocks west of the fault line in the Valley and Ridge region are just as old as those in found in the Appalachian Plateau, but due to the nature of the plate collision, they were not subjected to as intense a degree of metamorphism as the Piedmont and therefore contain much of their original sedimentary textures, structures, and fossils.
The outcroppings along Cloudland Canyon and the surrounding valley region offers the opportunity to witness the folded and faulted sedimentary layers, and all of the fossilized treasures contained inside them.
From a geological perspective, Cloudland Canyon is still relatively young. Eventually, the steep cliffs will become more gently sloping and the canyon will become broader. These waterfalls, especially the Cherokee Falls, will retreat upstream which will ultimately disappear. This phenomenon was further proved by several smaller scale waterfalls that we observed when our team followed the trail downstream. Even though this will occur in an extremely slow process, thousands of years from now, people will see a distinct kind of view in this region.
Authored By Savannah Miller, Ruiyuan Shi
Sources: “Geologic Regions of Georgia: An Overview.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/science-medicine/geologic-regions-georgia-overview
Griffin and Atkins. “Geologic Guide to Cloudland Canyon State Park.” Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, and Georgia Geologic Survey. 1983
Cloudland Canyon State Park. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon