Chapter 377.075 of the Florida Statutes states that 'state geological sites' or ‘state invertebrate paleontological sites,’ as designated by the State Geologist, are locations of great and continuing significance to the scientific study and public understanding of the geological history of the state. The Florida Geological Survey is working with the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of State Lands and Florida State Parks to designate and preserve these important sites. As part of these efforts, it is the Florida Geological Survey's mission to provide the information and understanding of the geological significance of each site and educate the public through education and outreach efforts.
A list of criteria for site designation can be found here.
There are currently four state geological sites. Learn more about each site by visiting the State Park website or exploring the publications and articles in which each site is referenced.
Devil’s Millhopper is a large, deep cover-collapse sinkhole. Sinkholes form when limestone is slowly dissolved by acidic groundwater over geologic time. This process, called dissolution, can create large cavities in limestone. A sinkhole forms when the roof of a cavity in the limestone collapses and creates a depression at the land surface. Sinkholes and other landforms that develop in areas where limestone is near the surface are called karst features. Although sinkholes are common in Florida, Devil’s Millhopper is unique because it is one of the few places in Florida where more than 100 feet of geologic strata (rock layers) are exposed. The park is also unique because it is an important and beautiful example of how ecosystems (flora and fauna) develop in response to geological features.
Wakulla Spring is located in a region known as the Woodville Karst Plain because the area contains numerous springs, sinkholes, and submerged cave systems formed by the dissolving of limestone over thousands to millions of years. The extensive cave system beneath Wakulla Spring extends more than 32 miles and serves as a network of conduits that supply the more than 250 million gallons of water per day that discharges from the spring. Flow from the spring could fill an Olympic swimming pool every few minutes! On December 20, 2018, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park was officially designated the newest State Geological Site. Designated State Geological Sites are areas that DEP's Florida Geological Survey has determined to be significant to the preservation, scientific study and public understanding of geological history and resources in Florida. Additionally, designated Geological Sites provide opportunities to experience and learn about a site's geological features, its connection to the local ecosystem, and significance in past and present culture.
Florida Caverns State Park provides the opportunity to explore some of Florida’s amazing geological features. The park is located along the Chipola River in Jackson County where limestone formations that are more than 30 million years old are exposed. It is the only state park in Florida where visitors can take a guided tour through a large cave system and see some spectacular examples of cave formations including stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstone. These formations, called speleothems, formed over many thousands of years by the same process that created the cave passages for which Florida Caverns State Park is famous.
The Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park provides a beautiful exposure of a geological unit known as the Key Largo Limestone. Fossil corals and other ancient marine life are preserved in these rocks and record a unique part of Florida’s geologic history. Visitors to the park can stand inside a fossil reef - the same rocks that comprise the aquifer of the upper Florida Keys.
Falling Waters State Park is the only place in Florida where visitors can see a 70-foot-tall waterfall! When there is sufficient rainfall in the area, surface water flows down a small stream channel and over the rim of a large, circular depression and cascades some 70 feet before disappearing into a cave. This circular depression is the result of geologic processes that have shaped the landscape in this area and in many other parts of Florida. This geologic process, called dissolution, creates a landscape geologists refer to as karst topography. Karst topography includes features like sinkholes, springs, natural bridges and here in Falling Waters State Park, the waterfall.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.