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Birth of the Mountains
The Geologic Story of the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Version 1.0

The Southern Appalachian Mountains include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, several National Forests, and numerous State and privately owned parks and recreation areas. The region is known worldwide for its great beauty and biological diversity. Why does this area have such beautiful scenery and a diversity of plants and animals that is greater than in all of Northern Europe? How do the mountains, and the rocks and minerals of which they are made, affect the lives of people? How do people affect the mountains? To address these questions, we need to understand the geologic events that have shaped this region. We need to know how events that took place millions of years ago have influenced the landscape, climate, soils, and living things we see today.

This U.S. Geological Survey general interest publication begins with the earliest history recorded in the rocks and looks at the major stages in the development of the mountains and landscape. It shows where evidence can be seen today for each stage and gives examples of how the past affects human history and our lives today. This story is based on what geologists have discovered by mapping, measuring, and sampling rocks of this region for more than a century and by fitting those observations into the worldwide geologic puzzle that is the history of the Earth.

This brochure, Birth of the Mountains [product #112296], is also available in printed form from The USGS Store free of charge ($5 shipping) .

A companion video, The Southern Appalachians: A Changing World, and teacher's guide are also available. See https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/so_app/ for ordering information.

Download the general interest publication [2.1 MB PDF file]
If you wish to download the latest version of Adobe Reader free of charge, click here.

Also of interest:
USGS Scientific Investigations Map 2830, Geology Of The Southern Appalachian Mountains, by Sandra H.B. Clark (2008)

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
URL: https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/birth/
Maintained by Publications Services
Last modified: October 5, 2009 (mfd)
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