The Crew Attending the field trip were (from L to R): Dr. Marlette, Amanda Pilkington, Laura Warren, Ryan Hoerchler, and Nathan Marlette.
An Ancient Bluff Round Bluff is a 280- to 320- million-year-old sandstone knob. Pounds Sandstone is a sedimentary rock consisting mostly of rounded grains similar to the sand of a river bed. This type of sandstone is more durable than the surrounding material. Years of wind and water erosion have “eaten” away surrounding material and caused the separation of the sandstone from surrounding formations. Notice the joint-controlled erosion. The funneling of water along the joint surface has increased the rate of erosion.
Sandstone Barren – Cont. A glade is an opening in the forest that usually includes a mixture of stunted trees, shrubs, and open areas with little or no vegetation. The thin soil and extremely dry site conditions are caused by bedrock occurring at or near the surface. This particular site is a sandstone glade (specifically called a sandstone barren). Dominant plant species include blackjack oak, winged elm, little bluestem (grass), and farkleberry (shrub). Prickly pear cactus, the only cactus found in Illinois, can also be found in these glade communities. A small amount of iron cementation is visible in the sandstones.
Natural Honeycomb Formation The honeycomb texture present within the Pounds Sandstone is a result of differential erosion.
Ferne Clyffe Lake Since 1960, the 16-acre Ferne Clyffe Lake has offered visitors additional recreational and scenic opportunities. The lake has a maximum depth of 22 feet, and a hiking trail encompassing the 1-mile shoreline.
Southern Illinois Stone Company, Buncombe Quarry
Little Rock Shelter Cont. This rock shelter has a well developed joint in the ceiling that extends along the full length of the overhang. This joint is approximately 20 feet back from the front of the overhang.
Imitation Indian Cave Drawing It looks good though, doesn’t it?
Hawk’s Cave A 150-foot-long shelter bluff formed within the Pounds Sandstone.
100-foot-tall Intermittent Waterfall at the end of Big Rocky Hollow Trail. The waterfall is developed in the Pounds Sandstone. The waterfall is developed at the head of a sapping box-shaped canyon. The circular shape of the waterfall contains at least four joint planes. Approximately 50 from the top of the falls, near the middle, is a small rock shelter or alcove.
Natural Bridge This natural bridge is the largest in Illinois, being about 150 feet long, 30 feet wide, and about 60 feet high. At one time, water from the upland flowed across the lip of the cliff on the outside of what is now the bridge and helped to excavate a rock shelter at the base of the cliff, immediately above the underlying unnamed interval below the Pounds Sandstone. Eventually, a joint, about 30 feet or more back from the cliff, began to intercept some of the water and funneled it downward behind the cliff face. As time passed, the joint was enlarged, and more water was diverted to speed the erosion process here. Eventually, the enlarged joint intersected the rock shelter and helped to flush some of the shale and smaller rock debris out of it to form the natural bridge. The bridge will last naturally until the end supports are eroded away.
Millstone Bluff Millstone Bluff is the site of an undisturbed prehistoric Mississippian village, a stonebox cemetery, and rock art.
The Village Cemetery It contains approximately 20 coffin-like stone boxes. The prehistoric people of Millstone Bluff buried many of their dead in rectangular graves lined with large, thin limestone slabs to form a box. Past looting and vandalism have destroyed the great majority of the graves.
Petroglyphs The rock art or petroglyphs present at Millstone Bluff were almost certainly carved by Mississippian Indians. The figures depicted are similar to other Mississippian motifs found on pottery, carved stone figurines, and engraved copper plates. The figures are actually “pecked” into the stone, and not “carved” – they are formed by the repeated battering or hammering of a small “hammerstone” onto the flat rock surface.
Petroglyphs It is unknown exactly what the figures represent, but they are similar to mythic creatures found in Cherokee legends and stories. Can you see these images in the pictures to follow?