Virtual Jr. Ranger Camp Week Seven: Geology

July 22, 2020  |  Permalink

Week seven of Virtual Jr. Ranger camp explored the many different geological features that make Tennessee unique. From limestone to agate, Tennessee's geology is worth learning about. This week's blog post will explore the minerals and rocks that make up our distinctive landscape.


Monday's activities revolved around the Tennessee State Mineral: agate. Although agate initially was established as the state rock, in 1969, it was officially renamed the state mineral to reflect its correct classification. Agates come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. The layers in agate can be extraordinarily intricate and can mimic lace patterns. Impurities, inclusions, and the surrounding rock structure can change how the inside of the agate looks, making it appear as though the agate is a painted landscape. Due to its painted appearance, some refer to the mineral as "paint rocks" or "painting rocks. Jr. Rangers had the opportunity to make some agate of their own with an exciting science experiment involving candy!


Did you know Tennessee is home to pearls? Tuesday Jr. Rangers learned about our state gemstone: the river pearl. Found in the Tennessee River, river pearls originate from mussels that are native to the river. You can find the river pearl in many different colors, including white, cream, yellow, orange, and other variations. Tennessee is an important site for freshwater pearls, and is currently home to the only freshwater pearl culturing farm in America!


On Wednesday at the weekly Zoom gathering, Jr. Rangers explored Tennessee's unique topography known as Karst topography, a landscape characterized by numerous caves, sinkholes, fissures, and underground streams. Through an interactive live demonstration and an activity sheet, Jr. Rangers learned the importance of limestone in Tennessee and its role in Karst topography. Thursday, Jr. Rangers continued their exploration of limestone, where they learned that the special rock is our official state rock. A variation of limestone, known as Tennessee marble, was one of the primary stones used in building the state capitol. It's also found in prominent buildings across the country, like the National Gallery of Art and the Lincoln Memorial.


The last day of Geology Week explored another well-known Tennessee rock: coal. Coal is formed from ancient plants converted into rock due to immense pressure and heat over many years. To extract coal from the earth, first, it must be mined. Tennesseans began mining coal in the 1840s, but it wasn't until after the Civil War that the industry started gaining popularity. Through Friday's activities, Jr. Rangers were able to observe some of the highs and lows of coal mining, including the formation of coal mining communities and some of the tragedies in the coal mining business.


We hope Geology Week provided Jr. Rangers some important insight into some of the geological features that make up our state! To find more information on Virtual Jr. Ranger Camp and to get access to the daily activity sheets, check out the Tennessee State Parks Conservancy Facebook page.

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