Front Cover
 Title Page
 Introduction and stratigraphy and...
 Geologic structure and geomorp...
 Historical times

Florida Caverns State Park, Jackson County, Florida ( FGS: Open file report 23 )
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001022/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florida Caverns State Park, Jackson County, Florida ( FGS: Open file report 23 )
Series Title: ( FGS: Open file report 23 )
Physical Description: 7 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Schmidt, Walter, 1950-
Florida Geological Survey
Publisher: Florida Geological Survey
Place of Publication: Tallahassee
Publication Date: 1988
Subjects / Keywords: Geology -- Florida -- Jackson County   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by Walter Schmidt.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: At head of title: State of Florida, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Resource Management, Florida Geological Survey.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management:
The author dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law and all related or neighboring legal rights he or she had in the work, to the extent allowable by law.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001545446
oclc - 21223661
notis - AHF8966
System ID: UF00001022:00001

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Introduction and stratigraphy and paleoenvironment
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Geologic structure and geomorphology
        Page 3
    Historical times
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text


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State of Florida
Department of Natural Resources
Tom Gardner, Executive Director

Division of Resource Management
Jeremy Craft, Director

Florida Geological Survey
Walt Schmidt, State Geologist and Chief

Open File Report 23

Florida Caverns State Park
Jackson County, Florida


Walter Schmidt

Florida Geological Survey
Tallahassee, Florida

3 1262 04545 4294

LI0 /


State of Florida
Department of Natural Resources
Tom Gardner, Executive Director

Division of Resource Management
Jeremy Craft, Director

Florida Geological Survey
Walt Schmidt, State Geologist

Open File Report 23

Florida Caverns State Park
Jackson County, Florida

Walter Schmidt

Florida Geological Survey
Tallahassee, Florida

Flri BurwU of Geotogy Library
903 W. Tennesse Street
Talahassee Florlda 32304


By W. Schmidt, Florida Geological Survey


The Florida Caverns near Marianna, Florida is the only dry, exposed cave

system in Florida that is readily accessible and open to the public. The
caverns are interesting from several viewpoints, including: the unique nature

of the air-filled cave system, whereas most cave systems in Florida remain
below the water table, the geomorphic history of the area and how it contri-
buted to cave development as we see it today, and the Eocene limestones the

caves are developed in which expose their component micro and macro fossils
and associated carbonate lithology, which enable geologists to interpret the
geologic and paleogeographic history of north Florida.

Stratlgraphy and Paleoenvironment

The caverns are developed in the Late Eocene, Ocala Group limestone. The
Ocala Group has been divided into three formations in ascending order, the
Inglis, Williston, and Crystal River formations (Puri, 1953, 1957). These for-

mations are described from the Florida peninsula and the entire group is not
present in Jackson County (Schmidt and Coe, 1978, Schmldt, 1979). The exposed

sections in this area have been assigned to the Crystal River Formation (Moore,
1955, Purl, 1957). In general, only two lithologic fades of the Ocala Group
can be recognized in the Panhandle area. A lower faces consists of a

greenish-gray, glauconitic, sandy limestone and contains a lower Jackson

(upper Eocene series) fauna. The upper and more typical faces is a light-

yellow to white, massive, porous, often sllicified, abundantly microfossili-

ferous limestone (packed biomicrite or packstone to wackestone) (Schmidt,
1984). Abundant fossils include foraminifera, mollusks, echinoids, bryozoans,

and coral. For an extensive fauna listing see Puri (1957). In general, the

Late Eocene environment during the time of Ocala deposition is considered to

have been shallow marine waters under a tropical climate (Cheetham, 1963).

Chen (1965), using a lithofacies mapping approach along with published
faunal lists, reconstructed a regional pattern of sedimentary environments

during the Paleocene and Eocene in Florida. He stated Florida was a stable

carbonate platform bounded by submarine escarpments on both the Atlantic and

Gulf of Mexico sides and separated from the continental shelf at the north by

the "Suwannee Channel". The platform was characterized by shallow water, with

reefs along its northern and eastern margins. Chen noted that, in the latest
Eocene, parts of the platform may have been emergent based on the unconfor-

mable relationships mapped. This is also suggested by Randazzo (1972, 1980)

from petrographic evidence.

Chen (1965) noted the absence of shallow-water types of larger foramini-

fera and bryozoans in the "Suwannee Channel" area. He pointed out that

deeper-water types are dominant there. Although well control in this deeper

part of the section is poor, Chen suggested that a degree of interfingering

between the plastic faces from the northwest and the nonclastic faces from

the south must exist somewhere along the channel. The nonclastic faces

steadily spread north and northwest during the Paleocene and Eocene. This

occurred as a result of continued growth and migration of the calcareous fauna
towards the warm, shallow marine current to the northwest.

,Regional paleogeographic maps of the southeastern coastal plain (Chen,

1965), show a marine current crossing the Big Bend of Florida into southwest

Georgia from southwest to northeast. The axis of this channel or current

shifts northwestward through the Eocene until it was situated near the
present-day Apalachicola River. Evidence for this current is also seen in the

Georgia coastal plain (Schmidt, 1977).

Geologic Structure and Geomorphology

The'caverns are located on the flank of a positive structural feature

called the Chattahoochee Anticline (Veach and Stephenson, 1911; Puri and

Vernon, 1964), a broad flexure mapped in the tri-state area of Alabama,

Florida, and Georgia (Figure _). This "high" brings Oligocene and Eocene

rocks to the surface, while the younger units either pinch out or are trun-

cated against the high. The feature is an elongated anticline that trends

northeast-southwest, crests in Jackson County, and plunges to the southwest.

In the vicinity of north central Jackson County the elevation of the

Ocala Group ranges up to 75-100 feet above sea-level. As a result, this unit

was repeatedly subjected to acidic groundwater and aerial exposure. Hence

the cave formation we now see. This area, however, has a unique geologic

history that contributed to the general geomorphic and karst development of

the county.

It has been postulated (Hendry and Yon, 1958) that the current

Chattahoochee and Flint river system at one time followed a course further

west than the present route. The Apalachicola River was a small tributary to

Sthe ancient Chattahoochee River. As the Apalachicola cut headward into the

highlands it eventually captured the Flint River and diverted flow into the

current valley system. The Chattahoochee eventually also was diverted by the
enlarged inverted stream, and the combined flows of the Chattahoochee and

Flint rapidly enlarged the youthful valley of the Apalachicola.

Physiographically we do see, by reviewing topographic maps, that the

land area of Jackson and Holmes counties is lower than the surrounding coun-

ties to the west, south, and east. This "low" area has been called the

Marianna Lowlands (Cooke, 1945). A large volume of plastic sediments has been
eroded from this area due to surface erosion by streams and due to infilling

of subsurface solution features. Repeated sea-level fluctuations directly

impacted this area regarding groundwater levels, stream gradients, and basele-

vels. The final result is the karst terrain including caves, springs, sinkho-

les, and natural bridges we see today in this area.

Historical Times

Since early time, Florida Caverns has created interest. They were first

mentioned in writings by Friar Barreda, who was with the first overland expe-

dition made by the Spaniards to Pensacola Bay. The following paragraph is a

translation of the Friar's own words, written 296 years ago:

"On June 12 (1693) we continued northwest and after we had journeyed

a little more than three leagues ... we reached an abandoned village

of the Choctaw tribe called San Nicholas where I came to preach the

holy gospel in the year 1674. Here we spent the night in the hollow

of such a beautiful and unusual rock that I can state positively that

more than 200 men could be lodged most comfortably in it. Inside,

there is a brook which gushes from the living rock."

Archeologists in reviewing the designs found on Indian pottery, state

that the caves were known to the Indians of this section long before the

coming of the Spaniards. There is considerable evidence that Indians, even
prior to 1693, had been in the habit of using Florida Caverns and caves in the

vicinity for shelter during their hunting trips into the region and for refuge

from their enemies. In some of the smaller, dry caves there have been found

small, broken pieces of Indian pottery. According to archeologists, all of
the sherds so far discovered are of a pre-Columbian type (prior to approxima-

tely 1500 AD). Ashes from fires, flint arrowheads, and animal bones have also

been found in the caves.

Several times in history, Florida Caverns was used as a refuge from armed
forces. During Andrew Jackson's punitive expedition against the Indians in

1818, a large band of Indians escaped from his soldiers by concealing them-

selves within the underground caves. Again, during the Civil War, an outfit
of Union Soldiers en route to Pensacola was resisted by a home guard outfit

from Marianna, composed of men too young or too old to fight in the armies of

the Confederacy. While the battle was raging, women, children, and slaves
took refuge in Florida Caverns.

Water rising out of the limestone flows through the park over a mile
before it enters the Chipola River. The Chipola Natural Bridge, located in
the park, is a fourth of a mile long and has been restored to its original

interesting geological condition with the removal of logs and lumber which had

jammed into it in bygone days when the river was used to float them down to a



1. Cheetham, Alan H., 1963, Late Eocene Zoogeography of the Eastern Gulf
Coast Region: Geol. Soc. America Memoir 91, 113 p.

2. Chen, Chih Shan, 1965, The Regional Lithostratigraphic Analysis of
Paleocene and Eocene Rocks of Florida: Florida Geological Survey
Bulletin 45, 105 p.

3. Cooke, C. Wythe, 1945, Geology of Florida: Florida Geological Survey
Bulletin No. 29, 339 p.

4. Hendry, Charles W. Jr., and Yon, J. William Jr., 1958, Geology of the

Area in and Around the Jim Woodruff Reservoir: Florida Geological
Survey Report of Investigation No. 16, Part I, pp. 1-52.

5. Moore, Wayne E., 1955, Geology of Jackson County, Florida: Florida
Geological Survey Bulletin No. 37, 101 p.

6. Purl, Harhans S., 1953, Zonation of the Ocala Group in Peninsular Florida
(abstract): Jour. Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 23, p. 130.

7. Purl, Harbans S., 1957, Stratigraphy and Zonation of the Ocala Group:
Florida Geological Survey Bulletin No. 38, 248 p.

8. Purl, Harbans S., and Vernon, R. 0., 1964, Summary of the Geology of

Florida and a Guidebook to the Classic Exposures: Florida Geological
Survey Special Publication No. 5 revised, 312 p.

9. Randazzo, Anthony F., 1972, The Petrography of Selected Tertiary
Limestone Type Sections in Florida: Trans. Gulf Coast Assoc. Geol. Soc.,

V. 22, pp. 331-342.

10. Randazzo, Anthony F., 1980, Geohydrologic Model of the Floridan Aquifer
in the Southwest Florida Water Management District: Univ. of Florida,

Water Resources Research Center, Pub. No. 46, 79 p.

11. Schmidt, Walter, 1977, A Paleoenvironmental Study of the Twiggs Clay

(Upper Eocene) of Georgia Using Fossil Micro-organisms: unpublished the-
sis, Florida State University Geology Dept., 140 p.

12. Schmidt, Walter, 1979, Environmental Geology Series Tallahassee Sheet:
Florida Geological Survey Map Series No. 90, 1:250,000.

13. Schmidt, Walter, 1984, Neogene Stratigraphy and Geologic History of the
Apalachicola Embayment, Florida: Florida Geological Survey Bulletin No.

58, 146 p.

14. Schmidt, Walter and Coe, Curtis, 1978, Regional Structure and Strati-

graphy of the Limestone Outcrop Belt in the Florida Panhandle: Florida
Bureau of Geology Report of Investigation No. 86, 25 p.

15. Veach, Otto, and Stephenson, L. W., 1911, Preliminary Report on the
Geology of the Coastal Plain of Georgia: Georgia Geologic Survey

Bulletin 26, 466 p.






Figure 3. Geologic Structures.