Respect the Appalachians

They’re old. The reason that they’re not as craggy and tall as the Rockies or the Himalayas or even the Cascades is because they’ve been eroding for 480 million years. Follow this Twitter thread for an entertaining geology lesson.

If only the rest of Twitter could be that informative!


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Fossils on the Appalachian trail? I heard of a Republican going there some years ago, with interesting consequences.
    And future geologists may find traces of meth all over.

  2. wzrd1 says

    I found various bivalve and trilobites, as well as massive amounts of leafed plant fossils in the Blue mountain region. I am still disappointed in not finding any horseshoe crab fossils.
    Donated a few hundred pounds of them to The Academy of Natural Sciences in the 1970’s, with details on where they were found.

  3. says

    Pennsylvania coal is Texas oil. I forget where it is but there is an area of Texas where the same rock stratum that makes up Appalachia is sticking out.

    Meanwhile, in climate disasters, the Amazon has now flipped to producing more CO2 than it absorbs. Thanks in no small part to Brazil’s version of Donald Trump. What a mess we humans have made of our niche!

  4. says

    By the way, I’ve dug through a lot of my coal shale strippings and there are fossils in there. They’re just all this plant with leaves that look like a locust tree and stalks that look like snakeskin. The whole planet must have been densepacked with the stuff.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    one feature is [New River] which is the oldest in the country. The bridge over New River is one of the tallest arches in the country and has annual base jumping from it to the river below, with bungee jumping as well. I once walked the catwalk underneath the bridge, to experience the 1000 ft.drop to the river, with only in a thin grid of steel, to scare the shit out of me. Only got to the halfway point where my courage gave out. Getting TO the catwalk was a challenge, walking on single beams of steel, then climbing over the handrail.
    tangent alert: anyone remember what the #FormerPresident called the Appalachian Trail when berating his challenger?

  6. says

    @Salty #1: Indeed. I knew the Caledonian mountains extended into Scotland, but this was news to me. I live on these mountains, lots of small fossils everywhere.

  7. lumipuna says

    480 million, you say? That’s cool. I happen to live on the smoothed out roots of almost 2 billion year old mountains.

    The Svecofennian orogeny is a series of related orogenies that resulted in the formation of much of the continental crust in what is today Sweden and Finland plus some minor parts of Russia. The orogenies lasted from about 2000 to 1800 million years ago during the Paleoproterozoic Era. The resulting orogen is known as the Svecofennian orogen or Svecofennides.

  8. imback says

    The so-called Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco are supposedly also part of the Alleghanian orogeny, so the Appalachians have echoes in three continents.

  9. unclefrogy says

    very cool. I live very close to the palos verda peninsula maybe even on part of it depends where you draw the line. It made up of layers of lime stone that is full of fossil fish and even dolphins. it is fun seeing actual evidence of the movement of the land and the immense time it represents, knowing that it is not stopped no matter what it may seem like day to day.
    waiting for the ‘Big One”
    uncle frogy

  10. Ed Seedhouse says

    Well, the Canadian Shield which covers most of Eastern Canada and Greenland, with an extension down your way to the Adirondack mountains, has rocks over 4 billion years old. That’s four beeeeelioon.

    I live on Vancouver island whose oldest rocks go back a mere 300 million years. We’re relative johnny come latelies, we are.

  11. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Turns out that the Appalachian Trail, jumps from Maine to Co. Donegal, Ireland (see map in twitter thread), through Northern Ireland, then jumps to Scotland and over to Norway.

    It’s not very well marked on the ground, though.

    Collect the whole set!

  12. Tethys says

    I can’t access anything on Twitter so I hope it is more accurate than claiming the Appalachians have been eroding for 480 million years.

    That date is early Ordovician, but the allegheny orogeny that created the mountain range didn’t occur until Laurussia collided with Gondwana with the closure of the Rheic Ocean. That happened between 35 and 26 million years ago. ( the Piedmont being the earliest phase)

    The scaly barked plant fossils in the coals of Pennsylvania are the remains of lycopods, which are relatives to ferns. They covered huge areas of the earth, sort of like vast cypress swamps, but with tree sized club moss and horsetails.

  13. littlejohn says

    I grew up in West Virginia, and spent all my free time in the woods. It’s full of fossils, but they’re all marine shells. I know nothing of biology or fossils, but they all had grooves on them and were shaped like clams. All over the damn place; nothing but clams.
    It’s also absolutely littered with small arrowheads, by the way. Lots of fun for a boy in the hills, at least when I wasn’t romancing my sister.

  14. says

    There was a Tumblr post I stumbled across earlier this year and the poster succinctly put it “they are older than bones.”

    Really drove the point home.