Are There Volcanoes in Tennessee? How Some of Us Got Burned

volcano in smoky mountains

(AI generated image with adobe stock)

Popular April Fool’s Day article stirs rumors of volcanic activity in the mountains

As a writer for TheSmokies.com, I uncover the hidden truths behind the mountains, track search trends and immerse myself in East Tennessee culture. But on days like today, I end up addressing topics that surprise me. Notably, I never thought I’d be re-learning about plate tectonics in my 30s, but here we are.

Are there volcanoes in Tennessee?

There are no volcanoes in Tennessee. The popular misconception 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. It even made an appearance on Snopes. 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 articles.

But why can’t there be volcanoes in Tennessee?

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 so, 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”.

TheSmokies.com

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Editor’s Note: The featured image was created with AI/Adobe Stock.

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7 thoughts on “Are There Volcanoes in Tennessee? How Some of Us Got Burned”

  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.

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

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  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

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  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

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  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.

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  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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