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Are There Volcanoes in Tennessee? Your Burning Questions Answered

Image compilation of the Smokies and a volcano

The forces that formed volcanoes in the eastern U.S. millions of years ago no longer exist (stock images/compilation by TheSmokies.com)

Please note, that TheSmokies.com may receive commissions for links in this article that lead to purchases from third-party vendors.

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:

Are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smoky Mountains the same?  Is an elk a moose and can they mate? How do I get out of a timeshare presentation in the Smokies?

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.


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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.

Mount Le Conte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Mount LeConte is third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (no joke!) (stock photo)

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.

A Polar Bear cleans its coat
Like volcanoes, you’ll only find Polar Bears in places like Alaska (stock photo)

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.

Read Also: 10 things you didn’t know about 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!

7 thoughts on “Are There Volcanoes in Tennessee? Your Burning Questions Answered”

  1. In Polk County, Tenn, there is Round mountain. A lot of years ago, volcanic rock was picked up there. Men building the flume, around Parksville Lake picked up a lot. I know this to be true, as I have seen the rock my papaw had, who took the rock to a geologist, who was stunned when he was told where it came from. It was indeed lava rock.

  2. Mt. Leconte in the Smokies is an active volcano that they found in 2015. This mountain is also the highest peak in Tennessee

  3. My name is Nick. I’ve lived in Kodak Tennessee my whole life. I was in a creek once and found a rock. It was bigger than a egg. I took it home and broke it with a hammer. It was indeed Obsidian I didn’t know that until I showed my Science teacher. My sister and I were playing once behind our house and she found magma rock. There’s secrets in these hollars and hills. I know where a cave is no one goes to. Inside it pretty deep I found a hole full of fresh water. It looked very deep. I’m no diver lol anybody want to meet up and go

  4. Hey Nick just got done reading about the volcano prank of Mt. LaConte, really had me going for a moment lol. Moved here a bit over 11 years ago. Originally from Florida (don’t hate) and a water child at that, had to change the scenery and traded the oceans for the mountains. So I picked up hiking and love being outside exploring. I would Mos Def be down for some exploring. I have an old mine shaft next to my place. Haven’t been too far inside due to water up to your waist. I also love prospecting and have a small portable dredge. Let me know if interested. Just turned 38 and in great shape to hit up the mens. Been with my old lady going on 8 years and I have converted her into a mountain maiden, so she will probably want to check it out as well. We r definitely NOT some weirdos but definitely looking to go and see some different things that are relatively close. Let me know if interested. Thanx and hope to talk soon! Sincerely Dain D

  5. It’s very interesting to know and what’s going through my mine that can be found in a mine there’s gold there people did they get trapped inside some where or was it the mountains that’s cause it. It self by magma to cause people get trapped you know it makes you Wonder how deep that water is underneath and wondering if it can be determined by the temperature of the water. But for me wish I could swim but for me I wood still like to go in.

  6. Mount LeConte was confirmed to be an active volcano by the USGS in 2016 with a large magma chamber, you need to update this information.


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