Mountain is part of the Cumberland Plateau – doesn’t that seem strange?
The Cumberland Plateau runs from Birmingham, Alabama, through northwest
Georgia and into Tennessee and parts of it are highly eroded forming the
Cumberland Mountains, which are geologically still a plateau.
These flat-topped mountains are quite different from what you would find
in the Appalachians to the east. The Cumberland Plateau is in the
transition area between the sedimentary areas of central Tennessee and the
metamorphic folded and faulted ridges further east in Georgia.
of the principal features of the Cumberland Plateau in Georgia is Lookout
Mountain. It is in the southernmost
reaches of the Cumberland Plateau which parallels the Blue Ridge Mountains to
its west. Lookout Mountain extends
84 miles through three states and is one of the world’s riches cave regions.
This mountain is made up of Paleozoic sedimentary rock with a gentle
syncline structure. The valleys in this area show an anticline structure
indicating that the valley strata was folded upward during the collision that
assembled Pangea. Water penetrated
the cracks in these folds and after 300 million years of erosion the former
ridges were left as valleys and Lookout Mountain was left intact.
At the Reflection Riding Nature Preserve at the base of Lookout Mountain, there are deep gorges, rock fields, and moss-covered boulders to explore. On the north end of Lookout Mountain there is also a fossil collecting site. In this area you will find Pennsylvanian plant fossils including Sigillaria, Pecopteris, Alethopteris, Neuropteris, and others. Just before the brow of the mountain, there is a visible seam of coal underneath massive sandstone and shale. During the Carboniferous period, huge ferns and other plants lived in the swamps and river deltas of the Northern Hemisphere. As they died, the swamp water prevented them from losing their carbon and after eons, these carbonized remains were compressed into layers of coal.