In this week’s lab assignment, we are to do some independent research on a geologic topic that interests us. From there we are to create a list of questions that we would like to know more about. Then, we are to select a government agency professional, a business professional, a professor, a local geologist/astronomer/miner or a legislator who deals with some aspect of our topic and set up an interview with him or her to discuss our questions. Afterwards, we are to write up our experience while responding to several questions posed in the lab assignment. This paper and responses are the result of the research and interview process.
More than once in this class and lab I have brought up the importance of the Great Smoky Mountains. These mountains have such an influence on the region that they are hard to overlook. While there is the seemingly obvious topics of commerce and tourism there may be more to this mountain range than meets the eye. Since childhood, I have always been fascinated with fossils. I have always found it incredibly cool that the Earth has a means of preserving a piece of its history in rock for future generations to find, study and understand. While commerce and tourism are the obvious influences these mountains have on the region, I was more interested if anything was lying beneath the surface waiting for discovery and research.
The area I live in, originally conceived and built as a retirement community, no longer caters to retirement age residents. In recent years, younger families have discovered the area. Younger families are moving into the community because of what it offers. As a result, it is not uncommon to have very young families and retirees as neighbors. It just so happens this is the case with my family. We are a young family living right next door to a retiree. A retiree who worked for the National Park Service (NPS) at the Great Smoky Mountains as a geological specialist. The day we moved into this house I never thought I would take advantage of his former career by asking him a series of questions to fulfill the requirements of this lab. He readily agreed to answer my questions but with one condition. He would prefer his name remain anonymous. With privacy concerns recently raised by the NSA and Target credit card thefts, this individual wants to take no chances that any of his personal information could be misused. To complete this lab, I agreed with his request.
In an area that took so much geologic activity to form the mountain range, I was shocked to learn that there are nearly no fossils to be found in the Great Smoky Mountains. There is one exception to this statement. Cades Cove is an area within the national park that does contain some fossils. I honestly did not believe this statement when I first heard it and could not wait to verify or disprove the statement.
To my surprise, the...