Nature

5 Texas Hill Country Geology Facts That’ll Surprise You

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Geology facts about the Texas Hill Country originate before the dinosaurs and cannot compare to other parts of the state. The materials underground make this portion of the state so unique. During prehistoric times, the landscape experienced multiple changes that eventually gave the region its distinctive look today. Given a picture of the Texas Hill Country from millions of years ago, few would recognize it compared to the verdant hills that dominate the landscape today.

1. Volcanoes Once Reigned

Pilot Knob near Austin, Texas.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Geology facts about the ancient landscape are often surprising. Volcanoes once loomed over the Texas Hill Country landscape, spouting lava onto the area. Today, you can still see vestiges of these ancient hills. An ancient volcano created Pilot Knob, located outside of Austin. Today four hills stand above the landscape, but in prehistoric times, these hills would have been inside a volcano that erupted below the surface of a Cretaceous sea. But don’t worry. Geologists consider these volcanoes extinct because none have erupted for millions of years.

2. There’s Gold in Those Hills!

Panning for gold

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

California is not the only place to find gold in the United States. At one time, miners sought gold in the Heath mine near Llano. Though this mine no longer operates, it proved productive for a short while, yielding minor amounts of both gold and bismuth. Nearby Gold Mine Creek immortalizes the short few years at the end of the 19th century when miners searched for gold in the Texas Hill Country.

Most of the gold found in the Llano Uplift area, near Enchanted Rock, flows through the streams, but don’t grab a pan to start searching for gold in the creeks yourself. Private owners control almost all the land in the area, and you should not enter anyone’s property without their permission. It may be just as well. Civil War-era residents of the area were only able to accumulate one dollar worth of gold a day by panning in the creeks.

3. Home to Texas’s State Gem

Blue topaz is the Texas state gem.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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