Florida Formations

Florida Formations

The Florida we know is a relatively new phenomenon, geologically speaking. This distinctive peninsula and the gently sloping, sandy shorelines we’re drawn to for recreation and renewal have not always existed as they appear today. In fact, Florida was a very different-looking place not so long ago, and over the past 500 million years it has had quite a unique and surprising geological history.

Tectonic plate activity carried the evolving Florida landmass on an epic journey of drift, collision, and rift--from the South Pole region to its present-day position in the northern hemisphere. Over millions of years, it has changed from a chunk of African-born bedrock to a miles-thick accumulated “platform” of marine-derived carbonate rock.

The Gillespie Museum’s new Florida Formations exhibit offers a brief introduction to this fascinating geology, with a focus on the past 200 million years, when calcium carbonate (derived from living marine organisms) built up in the warm shallow seas—which often covered ancient Florida—and formed the thick layers of distinctive rock units, or “formations,” that make up the larger Florida Platform. Interpretive panels, with associated display cases, guide visitors through a series of significant phases of Florida’s formational history, including global and regional conditions; specific changes on and around the Florida Platform; and some of its fossil record.

Florida Formations exhibit

You are welcome to view or download a condensed Overview of the Florida Formations story, or for a more in-depth account of our state's intriguing geological history, the Florida Formations Full Exhibit Text is now available online as well. We also have a comprehensive List of Specimens that are on display in association with the exhibit.

Come on in and check out this great new addition to the Gillespie Museum experience!