Falling Waters State Park designated as State Geological Site

Posted on October 28, 2019 by Staff reports

Raina White, daughter of South Santa Rosa News Publisher Romi White, pictured October 26 at the roughly 100-foot sinkhole, which is home to the tallest waterfall in Florida. The stream drops 73 feet to the bottom, per FDEP, and the volume of water fluctuates with rainfall amounts.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection on October 24 designated Falling Waters State Park as the newest State Geological Site. Designated State Geological Sites are areas the Florida Geological Survey has determined to be significant to the scientific study and public understanding of geological history in Florida. Designated Geological Sites also provide opportunities to experience and learn about a site’s geological features, its connection to the local ecosystem, and significance in past and present culture. 

“Florida’s geological landscapes help make our state’s natural resources unique and provide a wide-array of recreational opportunities at Florida State Parks, said Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We are proud to celebrate the designation of Falling Waters as Florida’s newest State Geological Site.”

Following the ceremony, attendees joined Florida State Geologist Dr. Jon Arthur for a tour of geologic features within the park.

“Florida’s natural environment provides excellent opportunities to experience important geological features, including the waterfall at Falling Waters State Park. Springs, caves, and exposures of rocks and fossils tell the fascinating story of Florida’s geological history, which is intertwined with human history,” said Florida Geological Survey Director Dr. Jon Arthur. “Designation of State Geological Sites highlights a select few of these as valuable resources and the best examples of their kind in the state.”

“Falling Waters State Park protects a dramatic example of karst geology. We’re grateful that the Florida Geological Survey is recognizing and sharing the landscapes that make Florida special,” said Florida Park Service Director Eric Draper. “It’s important to understand how geology shapes the places where we swim, walk and enjoy the outdoors.”

Geologic processes that have shaped the landscape in this area and in many other parts of Florida create a landscape that geologists refer to as karst topography. It includes features like sinkholes, springs, natural bridges and, in Falling Waters State Park, the waterfall. Exposed in the walls of the fall are limestone formations that formed between 20 and 30 million years ago.

Legislation authorizes the state geologist to designate sites that are of great and continuing significance for the scientific study and understanding of the geological history of Florida. Several sites have been identified, and the state geologist will identify 10 more sites in the coming years. Wakulla Springs State Park was designated a State Geological Site in December 2018, joining Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Florida Caverns State Park and Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.

On Friday, Nov. 1, FGS will host an open house where guests can learn about the fascinating history of Florida’s geology. The FGS is open and available for tours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., allowing visitors to discover more about Florida’s geology.