Geologist conducts 2 programs for library


The Cartersville Public Library is offering patrons a different type of rock experience that doesn't involve shredding guitars or pulsating drums or pounding bass lines.

As part of the "Libraries Rock!" Summer Reading Program, the library will host two free geological programs conducted by Dr. William Witherspoon, co-author of "Roadside Geology of Georgia," Wednesday. 

From 10 a.m. to noon, Witherspoon will lead a geology walk along the Pine Mountain Trail, with the group leaving from the West trailhead off Komatsu Drive in Cartersville.

Participants will be able to observe and learn about the local geology from an expert in the field. 

Then from 1 to 2 p.m., Witherspoon will present a geology lecture titled “From Etowah Mounds to Tinted Road Humps” during a Lunch and Learn program in the Nathan Dean Meeting Room at the library at 429 W. Main St. 

Patrons can bring their lunch to the library and also enjoy light snacks and refreshments while listening to the author discuss the geology of Cartersville. 

Adult services librarian Miranda Clody said she asked Witherspoon to do the programs, which are open to all ages, to help meet the library's goal of educating its patrons.

"Cartersville has a rich and intriguing geological history that draws tourists from all over," she said. "I am one of the tourists to this area myself. I have spent a lot of time hiking and camping at Red Top Mountain, and its geological features have always fascinated me. From early settlement to modern-day mining, geology has had a profound impact on this area and its inhabitants. I thought this would be a fun and interesting way to connect our patrons with Cartersville and its surrounding areas on a deeper level."

Because of her interest in geology, Clody said she was familiar with Witherspoon's book, which was co-written by Pamela J.W. Gore.

"I knew that the authors do events around the state, and I seized the opportunity to reach out and bring one of them here," she said.

Witherspoon, who completed his doctorate in 1981 at the University of Tennessee and has worked both in the oil industry and education field, is happy to share his knowledge with fellow geology enthusiasts.

"Most people are surprised to learn that geology is about more than 'What rock is this?' so it gives me great pleasure to help people see the landscape around them, the human history of their area and the types of plants that grow in different spots in a whole new way," the Decatur resident said.

On the guided walk, the group will travel only part of the trail — less than a mile round trip and about 200 feet of total elevation gain — to learn about rocks, soil and minerals.

"We will walk less than half a mile to natural cliffs of the tough rock quartzite, which is responsible both for the sandy soil that pine trees thrive in and the elevation of the area as compared to that of the more easily weathered and eroded rock types at the start of the trail," Witherspoon said. "We will notice a big contrast in the soils and rock types at the parking lot as contrasted with Pine Mountain and look at the evidence for a great ancient fault, which has been a subject of controversy among geologists. We will also see mineral resources that have contributed to Cartersville's economy." 

Those who plan to make the trek should wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring water. 

Witherspoon, who retired in 2014 after teaching at Fernbank Science Center for 17 years, has a lot to talk about during the Lunch and Learn.

"Both Cartersville and the Indian settlements that preceded it benefit from a unique location where the fertile Great Valley bends closest to the South Atlantic coast," he said. "I will break into a few simple stories about the billion years of geologic history that led to that fact. I will also show how rock types control the highs and lows of the landscape, the soil fertility of certain areas and the location where ochre, a product used to color concrete, is presently being mined. Lastly, I will weave history into the story, including Etowah Mounds, the Georgia 1829 gold rush, the Western and Atlantic railroad and mineral resources that helped win World War II."

Witherspoon will have copies of "Roadside Geology of Georgia," the 31st book in a national series that connects geology to favorite destinations, to sell for $24 plus tax, credit or check, or $25 including tax, cash.

"I will be happy to sell and sign while my supply lasts," he said.

For information on either event, call 770-382-4203 or visit