Found on the Greenway: Granite Outcropping
By Jim Bogenschneider
On the Greenway, it all starts with geology. The geologic history of South Carolina, and the piedmont in particular, determines the life that occurs here. The foundation for all plants and animals we see on the Greenway started with a string of volcanic islands in the proto-Atlantic ocean 650 million years ago. At this early time, life had not yet gained a foot hold on land. Over millions of years, volcanic activity along with erosion has left behind red clay that was formed from material rich in iron, as well as sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.
There is an outcropping of granite on the Greenway’s North Steele Creek trail as you head down toward the creek from the Nature Center (near trail marker #36). Granite is an intrusive igneous rock, meaning it formed below the earth’s surface. Granite is made of mostly feldspar, mica and quartz, while feldspar is the most common rock forming material.
As you trek out on North Steele Creek, the trail starts to descend in elevation and eventually makes the turn under the swinging bridge. The path that Steele Creek takes is based largely on geologic formations and faults. Close to the creek you will find plants and animals that require the extra moisture that the creek provides and at the top of the ridge you find other organisms that need a different environment. Next time you are out on this section of the Greenway, take a look at the nice example of granite which also happens to be the North Carolina state rock.