Map showing the states of the northeastern U.S.

Earth Science of the Southeastern United States

The place where you are right now has a rich geological history that is recorded by the rocks beneath you and the fossils that they may contain. The rocks and fossils reveal the movements of continents and the evolution of new forms of life. This history helps to explain why the Earth looks like it does today. It also explains things like the distributions of natural resources, from rare minerals to rich soils for agriculture. Studying Earth's ancient climate also helps us to make sense of how the climate is changing today and how it will affect us where we live.

The goal of this part of the [email protected] project is to explain the Earth science of the southeastern United States, which is defined here to include West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Major regions include the Inland Basin, Blue Ridge and Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.


Overviews of Southeastern U.S. Earth Science

Geologic History
Earth Hazards

Inland Basin Region

West Virginia, most of Kentucky and Tennessee, western Virginia, northwestern Georgia, and northern Alabama.


Blue Ridge and Piedmont Region

Central Virginia, western North Carolina, western South Carolina, northern Georgia, east-central Alabama.


Coastal Plain Region

Eastern Virginia, eastern North Carolina, eastern South Carolina, southern Georgia, Florida, southern Alabama, Mississippi, western Tennessee, far western Kentucky.



Most of the [email protected] content in the Here on Earth: Southeastern United States section is derived from The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Southeastern U.S., 2nd. ed., published in 2016 by the Paleontological Research Institution and edited by Andrielle N. Swaby, Mark D. Lucas, and Robert M. Ross. The citation for the original book is:

  • Swaby, A. N., M. D. Lucas, and R. M. Ross (eds.). 2016. The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Earth Science of the Southeastern US, 2nd edition. Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York, 460 pp.

The book was adapted for the web by Elizabeth J. Hermsen and Jonathan R. Hendricks in 2021. Changes include formatting and revisions to the text and images.

Authors for the original chapters adapted for the Southeastern US section of Here on Earth are as follows. Some of the content has been spread over multiple pages on this website, so links are not provided below:

  • Chapter 1. Geologic history of the Southeastern US: Warren D. Allmon, Jane A. Picconi, Stephen F. Greb, and Charles C. Smith.
  • Chapter 2. Rocks of the Southeastern US: Jane A. Picconi and Charles C. Smith.
  • Chapter 3. Fossils of the Southeastern US: Warren D. Allmon.
  • Chapter 4. Topography of the Southeastern US: Michael A. Gibson and Andrielle N. Swaby.
  • Chapter 5. Mineral Resources of the Southeastern US: Robert J. Moye, Stephen F. Greb, and Jane A. Picconi
  • Chapter 6. Energy in the Southeastern US: Carlyn S. Buckler, Peter L. Nester, Stephen F. Greb, and Robert J. Moye.
  • Chapter 7. Soils of the Southeastern US: Jane A. Picconi and Andrielle N. Swaby.
  • Chapter 8. Climate of the Southeastern US: Ingrid H.H. Zabel, Judith T. Parrish, and Don Duggan-Haas.
  • Chapter 9. Earth Hazards of the Southeastern US: Warren D. Allmon, Andrielle N. Swaby, and Don W. Byerly.