A Geology Road Trip through North Carolina: Part 2, the Piedmont

Next up on our NC geology road trip, we’re stopping on the Piedmont. A big swath of central North Carolina is represented by this physiographic region, which basically equates to the foothills of the Appalachians. I think I have made some people very confused when I’ve pronounced this in the French way that it looks to me, damn my Canadian upbringing, but apparently it sounds like PEEEEEEED-monT.

This is going to be a bit of a metaphorical road trip stop because most of the middle of North Carolina looks like this:

20160604_133301(0)OH GOD THE HUMIDITY

But, lots of evidence of the Piedmont’s geology is housed right outside my office in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!

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The Piedmont houses a bunch of basins formed from the rifting of Pangaea and subsequent formation of the Atlantic Ocean. These Triassic and Jurassic-aged basins collectively form the Newark Supergroup, familiar to me because Nova Scotia sits on the northern end of this batch of formations! Many of the fossils collected from Newark Supergroup age rocks in North Carolina have been found in brick quarries.

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There are some really nice fossils on display in the museum, from all kinds of fun Triassic critters like aetosaurs, phytosaurs, and dicynodonts (like this leg).

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Last year Lindsay Zanno and Susan Drymala and colleagues also announced a brand new Triassic crocodylomorph from North Carolina, Carnufex carolinensis, the Carolina Butcher! Carnufex is a cool animal: it is one of the very earliest and most basal members of the Crocodylomorpha, and it may have been bipedal based on the small size of the humerus relative to the skull (although hindlimbs are unknown as of yet).

butcherslogo2What sport should the Carolina Butchers play? Tell me in the comments below!

Triassic vertebrates are still not particularly abundant in North Carolina, so new specimens can be really significant and add to our understanding of this major transition time in Earth’s history. Even less well known in NC are rocks from the later part of the Mesozoic, although there are some tantalizing outcrops and bits and fragments.

Next time: we head to the beach!

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2 thoughts on “A Geology Road Trip through North Carolina: Part 2, the Piedmont

  1. It sounds like it should belong to a sport where you run around and hit people with a stick, like a contact version of lacrosse. Sooo… hockey?

    Like

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