GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 96-7
Presentation Time: 9:50 AM


MEANS, Guy H., Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Geological Survey, 3000 Commonwealth Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32304 and ARTHUR, Jonathan D., Florida Geological Survey, FDEP, 903 W. Tennessee St, Tallahassee, FL 32304-7700

Although Florida has a rich cultural heritage intertwined with its geology, visitors do not often consider it a major geology destination. Florida’s low elevation and topographic relief, and its lack of recent tectonic activity yield a comparatively unimpressive landscape at a regional scale; however, once immersed in one of Florida’s several hundred springs, or running hands along a 120,000-year-old coral reef quarry wall, or standing on the rim of a massive cover-collapse sinkhole, the landscape is nothing but impressive. Additionally, many of Florida’s geologic sites preserve evidence of human occupation spanning more than 14,000 years. When considering both the cultural and natural significance of these sites, the stories take on a more personal and holistic meaning.

In Florida, the State Geologist has authority to designate state geologic sites that are determined to be of great and continuing significance to the scientific study and public understanding of the geological history of the state. Additional criteria used to choose state geologic sites include public accessibility, educational value, geologic and geoheritage significance, and areas in need of environmental conservation or restoration. Florida currently has four designated state geologic sites that reside within Florida State Parks: Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Florida Caverns State Park and Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. New state geologic sites are chosen through a process that includes input from geologists at the Florida Geological Survey, other government agencies, and the private sector. Additionally, many of Florida's 175 state parks contain significant geologic features. Designating state geologic sites within Florida's state parks provides opportunities to foster intraagency relationships that help build momentum for the program. As sites are chosen and dedicated, geologic and related cultural information about each site is compiled and provided to the State Park for incorporation into online resources and social media. The process of dedicating state geologic sites in Florida may provide a useful model for other states looking to highlight their geoheritage.