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The Strange Case of Bell Falls

Channel fill outcrop along Red River at Bell Falls
     I've noted in previous comments some of the oddities regarding Kentucky geology.  Contrary to popular belief not all of Kentucky's geological treasure is sedimentary rock deposits of limestone, coal and shale. Case in point is the igneous intrusion of Elliot county.  There could be others hidden below the surface.  There is another kind of strange deposit that geologist commonly call channel fills.  These are rock formations that appear to be a mixture of rocks all jumbled about without any sign of normal sedimentary stratification.  They appear almost like a creek or river bottom with stones rolled and tumbled along.  A channel fill is just exactly that, it is thought. If one can imagine that ancient streams, perhaps millions of years old, eroded down through the formed sedimentary rock from yet farther back in time.  As the stream cut and gouged its way down into the rock it naturally carried stones, dirt sand etc from its source and deposited, just like modern streams, along the bottom. When enough time passed, and for whatever reason, the streams stopped and through eons of time more sediments continued to build up over the now dead stream channel, the stream bed is simply frozen in time among the rock strata.  It's also possible, depending on the streams source, that in those bottom stream deposits are minerals that are not common to the regular rock strata that now surrounds the ancient stream channel.  Yes, there could be placer gold and silver as well as a host of other minerals though none have been found.  Many years ago, some prospectors claimed to have detected uranium or some type of  heavy metals in the deposit, but nothing ever came of it.
Broken rock fragments in outcrop shown above
    The Bell Falls is a beautiful waterfall that flows most of the year and during the spring the woodlands around the falls exhibit a spectacular array of wildflowers.  It is located along highway 715, the popular gorge drive.
Bell Falls in Red River Gorge


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