Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations

Roan Mountain Highlands · By Dirk Frankenberg and Jennifer Godwin-Wyer

Roan Mountain Highlands

By Dirk Frankenberg and Jennifer Godwin-Wyer

This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the natural beauty and geological and ecological diversity of the Roan Mountain Highlands that straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The rocks of Roan Mountain are interesting because of their age, their mineralogy, and the evidence they provide about the geological processes that formed them. The plant communities are interesting because they are southern examples of communities usually found much further north, and because the origins of one type, the grassy bald, remains an unsolved scientific mystery.

What are Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations?

Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations are virtual field trips to areas characterized by both beautiful scenery and useful lessons about North Carolina's environment. Our state stretches from the Appalachian mountains to the sea. Along the way you can find rocks formed when the earth was only half as old as it is now, climate zones equivalent to those found near sea level from Georgia to Canada, and plants and animals as diverse as those of any state except California.

Each trip explores an important feature of North Carolina's natural heritage. First, a question is posed — What is a wetland? How do hurricanes damage coastal infrastructure? Why is the Blue Ridge so biologically diverse? The question is then answered by exploring a particular location or locations — its natural history, geology, weather, and ecology, and how all of these factors interact to make the location unique. The field trips also examine how humans impact and are in turn impacted by these natural areas. With high-resolution photographs, narrative text, and glossaries, these virtual field trips offer an experience that's the next best thing to exploring our state on foot with a scientist at your side!

Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations were originally developed in 1999 through a partnership of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Marine Sciences and LEARN NC. This edition was published in 2005–2006. (Full credits)