The Mystery of the Carolina Bays

Friday, 30th May 2008 by

When viewed from above, much of the landscape of South Carolina is clearly covered in mysterious oval depressions that aren't obvious from ground level. Known as "Carolina Bays", nobody really knows how these unique geological features were formed.

Despite their name, Carolina Bays can also be found in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and northcentral Florida. They vary in size from one to several thousand acres, and are often gathered in groups. Many are filled with water and named as lakes, but most contain vegetated wetland.

Most striking however, is that every single one is invariably aligned in almost exactly same direction - which has led some people to claim that they might be the result of a meteor impact. It would have to have been a pretty serious impact, as there are estimated to be over 500,000 of them. This is Lake Waccamaw, north Carolina, which is widely considered the largest Carolina bay.

George Howard (a bit of a Carolina Bay fanatic), has created an exhaustive KML file that marks the location of many thousands of the bays in North Carolina. This image was taken in Google Earth, and shows the white outlines that have been used to mark the locations.

So, who here can solve the mystery of the Carolina Bays?

You can read more about Carolina Bays at Wikipedia. Thanks to Keith Wright, david and Ogle Earth.