Chapter 377.075(4)(e), 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, Florida State Parks, and the state's water management districts 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.
There are currently seven state geological sites. Learn more about each site by visiting the geological site's webpage or exploring the publications and articles in which each site is referenced.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
Designated in 1998
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.
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.
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.
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 Dec. 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.
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.
Rock Bluff is a steep, tall limestone bluff within Torreya State Park that has been exposed by erosional activity of the Apalachicola River. As this large river moves across the landscape, it erodes the underlying rocks creating the broad valley it
occupies, which is called a floodplain.
Rock Bluff is located at the eastern edge of the Apalachicola River floodplain and is one of the tallest natural geologic exposures of rock and sediment in Florida. When strata are exposed at land surface, the area is known to geologists as an outcrop. At 100 feet tall, the outcrop at Rock Bluff is among the best in Florida!
Jennings Bluff Tract is a premier example of how surface and groundwater systems are interconnected. Water flowing into the Dead River swallet enters the Upper Floridan aquifer and travels south for approximately 10 miles, where it then discharges into the Suwannee River through both Holton Creek Rise and the Alapaha River Rise in just a matter of days.
Numerous karst features exist on this parcel. Silicified oyster beds and other fossils can be found in the limestone walls exposed along Dead River and the Alapaha River. Numerous outcrops occur in the sinks along these rivers.
Archeological items like stone tools from prehistoric Native Americans have been found on this tract. The tract is adjacent to a historic cemetery, signifying the area's significance in human history.
***It is important to note that collecting fossils or artifacts from District-owned land is prohibited. ***
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.