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Abstract

This two-day field trip focuses on the geology and geomorphology of the Carolina Sandhills in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. This area is located in the updip portion of the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Plain province, supports an ecosystem of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and wiregrass (Aristida stricta), and contains three major geologic map units: (1) An ~60–120-m-thick unit of weakly consolidated sand, sandstone, mud, and gravel is mapped as the Upper Cretaceous Middendorf Formation and is interpreted as a fluvial deposit. This unit is capped by an unconformity, and displays reticulate mottling, plinthite, and other paleosol features at the unconformity. The Middendorf Formation is the largest aquifer in South Carolina. (2) A 0.3–10-m-thick unit of unconsolidated sand is mapped as the Quaternary Pinehurst Formation and is interpreted as deposits of eolian sand sheets and dunes derived via remobilization of sand from the underlying Cretaceous strata. This unit displays argillic horizons and abundant evidence of bioturbation by vegetation. (3) A <3-m-thick unit of sand, pebbly sand, sandy mud, and mud is mapped as Quaternary terrace deposits adjacent to modern drainages. In addition to the geologic units listed above, a prominent geomorphologic feature in the study area is a north-trending escarpment (incised by headwater streams) that forms a markedly asymmetric drainage divide. This drainage divide, as well as the Quaternary terraces deposits, are interpreted as evidence of landscape disequilibrium (possibly geomorphic responses to Quaternary climate changes).

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