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Ozark Glimpse Of Earth's Turbulent Past

March 30, 2022

Few places in the Ozarks provide a glimpse of earth’s turbulent past as well as the Rocky Falls with its reddish-brown rock formed when molten rock deep within the earth and flowed onto the surface about 1.5 billion years ago. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. National Park Service photo by Neal Lewis.)
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Few places in the Ozarks provide a glimpse of earth’s turbulent past as well as the Rocky Falls that the Rocky Creek flows through within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways!

The reddish-brown rock you see here is rhyolite porphyry. It formed as molten rock deep within the earth and flowed onto the surface about 1.5 billion years ago. At the time, no living thing existed to see the awesome flow of glowing hot lava slowly advancing over the barren landscape.

Normally, a stream eroding softer dolomite, a type of limestone, would make a wider valley for itself. Since the rhyolite is harder, the stream tends to stay within whatever cracks that it finds, deepening them only a little by erosion. Thus a "shut in" is formed where the harder rock has "shut in" the stream. Farther downstream, past the constricting rhyolite, the stream valley widens once again. This allows the stream to expand into a pool.

Rocky Falls, located on Route NN off of Route H east of Eminence and Winona in Missouri, can be visited year round. It has a walking trail, bathrooms, picnic tables and fire grills.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, located in Missouri, is the first national park area to protect a river system. The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers are two of the finest floating rivers visitors will find anywhere. Spring-fed, cold and clear they are a delight to canoe, swim, boat or fish. Besides these two famous rivers, the park is home to hundreds of freshwater springs, caves, trails and historic sites such as Alley Mill.

Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. National Park Service photo by Neal Lewis.

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