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Cumberland Gap's Balanced Rock EarthCache

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Geocache Description:


Balanced Rock is a Pennslyvanian sandstone rock formation that sits atop a small natural rock pedestal giving its balanced appearance. The rock is millions of years old and has been formed by wind, water erosion. This has been view by many since the 1800s. Kids and adults would climb all over the rock and have their pictures taken. It’s now off limits for climbing and can be safely viewed from the well maintained trail that goes to Pinnacle Overlook.

There is no documented name for this rock formation. I am sure there are other names for it. If you know of the name, let me know.

Balanced Rock is composed of Pennsylvanian Limestone and Lee Formation. The Pennsylvanian rocks of eastern Kentucky occupy the central part of the Appalachians. The rocks form a elastic wedge that thickens southeastward so that stratigraphic intervals in southeastern Kentucky are 15 to 20 times thicker than comparable intervals in northeastern Kentucky. The oldest Pennsylvanian strata are exposed on Cumberland Mountain along the Kentucky-Virginia State line. In the Black Mountains in southeastern most Kentucky, where only the lower Pennsylvanian and about two-thirds of the Middle Pennsylvanian remain, the Pennsylvanian section is about 5,400 ft thick.

The Lee Formation is characterized by massive pebbly quartzose sandstone that locally contains lenses of conglomerate with quartz pebbles as much as 2.5 inches in diameter. In the type area in Lee County, Va., near Middlesboro, Ky., the formation is commonly more then 1,600 ft thick and is about 80 percent sandstone. The sandstone is mostly thick bedded, moderately well sorted, and fine to coarse grained. Sandstone units are interpreted to be fluviatile because they are commonly fining-upward, crossbedbed, channel-form deposits that contain mineralized or coalified plant remains such as ancient logjams at their bases.

Rocks of the Lee Formation are exposed in three major outcrop belts: in steeply dipping beds along Cumberland Mountain and Pine Mountain, and along the western side of the Cumberland Plateau. Also, isolated outcrops of Lee sandstone occur in highly folded and sheared masses along and just northwest of the trace of the Pine Mountain overthrust fault as part of the lower plate of the fault. The sandstone members of the Lee are resistant and generally form prominent hogbacks at or near the crests of Cumberland and Pine Mountains and, in that area, make up two other prominent ridges: Rocky Face Mountain northeast of Middlesboro and White Mountain north of Pineville. Lee sandstone units also cap the Pottsville Escarpment along the western side of the Cumberland Plateau.

Balanced Rock is part of the Cumberland Gap National Park. Carved by wind and water, Cumberland Gap forms a major break in the Appalachian Mountain chain. Photobucket

Stretching for 20 miles along Cumberland Mountain and ranging from 1 to 4 miles in width, the park contains 20,500 acres of which 14,000 acres is proposed wilderness. The natural beauty of Appalachian mountain country, lush with vegetation, supports diverse animal life including: white-tailed deer, black bear, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, fox, and wild turkey. Park resources provide habitat for the endangered Indiana bat Myotis sodalis, and the threatened blackside dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis. There are 59 state-listed rare plant species.

To get credit for this EC, post a photo of you (I do not accept pictures of just a hand) at the posted coordinates and with Balanced Rock in the background and please answer the following questions.

1. Estimate the width at the widest part of Balanced Rock?

2. How many fist size holes can you count in the sandstone (estimate) from the posted coordinates.

3. At the nearby overlook you will see a sign that has the state of TN on it. What is the name of the British Lord?

Cav Scout has earned GSA's highest level

This is a National Park Service-approved EarthCache site. The information here has been reviewed and approved by the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Thanks to the staff for their assistance.

Why do I ask for a face in the picture of the EarthCacher finding any of my EarthCaches? A face shot is the same as a signature in a log book. Many geocachers feel in order to get a find you must sign the log book, period. EarthCaching is special and a human face is the same as a signature in a log book. I do not accept hand shots (pictures of a hand with GPS) because it does not show who’s really visiting the ECs I set up for all to enjoy. Besides, there is no log book for you to sign at a EarthCache.

For anyone who doesn’t want to post a picture of their face, then log the find as a note or don’t do it at all. Nobody is forcing anyone to come and visit any of my EarthCaches. I could argue that signing a log at a traditional cache is violating my personal rights because I have to sign a piece of paper. Maybe someone will forge my signature and steal my identity!

An argument that a photo violates a persons identity is foolish. Geocaching is a social activity. Eventually someone will meet you and know you are geocaching. If you want to live a secretive life then geocaching is not the place to do so. Cache on!

Do not log this EC unless you have answered the questions and have a picture ready to post! Logs with no photo of the actual cacher logging the find or failure to answer questions or negative comments will result in a log deletion without notice. Exceptions will be considered if you contact me first (I realize sometimes we forget our cameras or the batteries die). You must post a photo at the time of logging your find. If your picture is not ready then wait until you have a photo.

Sources of information for the EarthCache quoted from the Cumberland National Historic Park. I have used sources available to me by using google search to get information for this earth cache. I am by no means a geologist.. I use books, internet, and ask questions about geology just like 99.9 percent of the geocachers who create these great Earth Caches. I enjoy Earth Caches and want people to get out and see what I see every time I go and explore this great place we live in.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)