A long and fabled history accompanies the Ocoee River. This history extends much longer than ours due to its ancient nature. Let’s explore the Interesting and deep geological events creating the Ocoee.
During the Late Proterozoic Era, ancient streams transported sand, clay, and gravel from a large supercontinent into a deep ocean. Creating a pile of sediments more than 6 miles thick to accumulate and later harden to form alternating beds of sandstone, shale, and conglomerate. This also resulted in the formation of large copper deposits in the area now known as the Copper Basin Tennessee. All this occurring between 750 and 570 million years ago.
The ancient North American plate collides with a chain of volcanic islands moving westward on a crustal plate 570 to 460 million years ago. Causing huge sheets of rock to be thrust westward along faults or breaks in the rock layers. Later, when the Iapetus Ocean closed, the ancestor African plate collided with the ancestor North American plate, creating Pangaea, a supercontinent.
During this era, collisions along the Great Smoky fault caused rocks to buckle into folds and large blocks of rock to slide over each other. This increased the heat and pressure and transformed sedimentary rocks, such as shale, into metamorphic rocks, like slate. These events then built the present-day Appalachian Mountains. Additionally, the Ocoee River Gorge was originally composed of layers of sediments that were deformed during this period. The lighter colored layers are coarser grained and harder than the darker colored layers, which form ledges that create many of the rapids in the river.
During the Mesozoic Era, 220 to 185 million years ago, the supercontinent split to form the modern Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic even today continues to grow wider. Dinosaurs were prevalent on Earth when this event began.
Westward flowing water eroded the dramatic landscape and deep gorges along the Ocoee River and its tributaries. Over the past 100 million years this formed the Ocoee River Gorge which cuts across the northeast trend of the Appalachian Mountains. This exposing a cross section through the rocks.
We hope this article give you more enjoyment and appreciation as you raft along the Ocoee seeing the interesting Geology now exposed.