Our staff here at TheSmokies.com works hard to cater to our valued readers.
We uncover the hidden truths behind the mountains, tracking search trends and immersing ourselves in East Tennessee culture.
We answer all of your burning questions:
But recently, we noticed one very interesting search term pop up.
It’s a topic I never thought I’d have to write about, nor did I expect to be re-learning plate tectonics in my 30s, but it’s been a weird year. Let’s dive in.
Are there volcanoes in Tennessee?
No. There are no volcanoes in Tennessee.
But why would the good folks of the Internet be searching for this, thinking that there might be?
Well, this popular search term apparently started with an April Fool’s Day prank, and a relatively elaborate one at that.
The idea got so popular that it was picked up by multiple sites and blogs, and it remains a commonly searched item today.
This is possibly because the volcano was called a “ticking time bomb” and included a hefty list of new safety precautions for the Smokies region.
It even made an appearance on Snopes, which will periodically cover April Fool’s Day Internet pranks for us gullible folks who need a little fact check.
And while I love a good April Fool’s Day joke, some of us who got a C in geology class might be susceptible to believing such absurdities in a vulnerable moment before we’ve had our morning coffee.
Geology and the Smoky Mountains
If you want to know more as to why this would be so absurd, here’s a brief, easy-to-understand geology lesson.
According to the National Park Service, the rocks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were formed by clay, silt, sand, gravel and small amounts of calcium carbonate in flat-lying layers hundreds of millions of years ago.
And the whole region is missing the necessary elements to form a volcano.
Does that mean it would be impossible for a volcano to exist in the Smoky Mountains? Well, basically.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the forces that formed volcanoes in the eastern U.S. millions of years ago no longer exist:
“Through plate tectonics, the eastern U.S. has been isolated from the global tectonic features … that cause volcanic activity.”
But folks in the science community never say never.
You might see some volcanic activity in the Smokies if you hang around for “several hundred million years”.
So are there volcanoes in the United States?
While you won’t find any volcanoes in Tennessee, the United States is actually one of the most volcanic countries in the world with more than 160 volcanoes.
But most of them are located in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. This is because of the distribution of the earth’s plate tectonics.
Finding a volcano in East Tennessee would be even less likely than spotting a Polar Bear in the Smoky Mountains.
Polar Bears in the Smoky Mountains (and other Internet pranks)
Oh yeah, that’s right. Polar Bears being released into the Smoky Mountains was another April Fool’s Day prank in the local community.
Of course, we can also safely debunk this one as nothing more than good Internet fun on this trust-nothing holiday.
Some other pranks included the introduction of a Smokies nudist colony and a new ziplining feature at Clingmans Dome.
Trust nothing on the Internet on April 1st
These articles, memes and photoshopped images are all in good fun.
But it’s an important lesson on not believing everything you read on the Internet, especially in the early spring.
What has been your favorite Internet prank? Let us know in the comments!