Woods Bay Swamp  About South Carolina's Coastal Plain

     Plains are large, relatively flat areas of land, which cover half of the U.S. There are 2 types of plains: 1) Coastal Plains, which are broad areas near coastlines called lowlands and characterized by low rolling hills, swamps and marshes (Ex. -Atlantic Coastal Plain & Gulf Coastal Plain) and 2) Interior Plains, which are large areas inland (Ex. Great Plains).
The Coastal Plain of South Carolina extends from the sandy beaches of the Coastal Zone to the Sandhills and the Fall line. This is the largest geographic region covering about 2/3 of S.C. and includes such features as vast flood plains, marshland, swamps of moss-hung cypress trees, several man-made lakes, wild grass prairies called savannahs, and Carolina Bays
The Coastal Plain is divided into the lower and upper plain. The upper Coastal Plain is then divided into the Aiken Plateau, the Richland Red Hills, and the High Hills of Santee. All of which are remains of land left by the constantly moving sea of the Pliocene. Six steep slopes at the edge of high ground and seven terraces create the surfaces of the lower Coastal Plains. These terraces represent the seven cycles of the receding ocean of two Pliocene, four in the Pleistocene, and one in Holocene. Terraces are temporary oceans floors that go from the sea level rise and fall over time.

About Carolina Bays

    The mysterious elliptical depressions that are found along an 800-mile stretch of costal plain from Maryland to Florida and are scattered from the Fall Zone to the coast are of great interest to geologists, biologists, and ecologists because they provide important information about the environment that existed during the Quaternary Period.  They also provide a natural laboratory that scientists can use to study rare and endangered plant and animal species.
     These bays are found all along the eastern coast of American but the majority of them are found in North and South Carolina which earned them the name Carolina Bays. These bays are large, shallow elliptical depressions, which have long axes that are aligned in the same general direction, northwest to southwest. The bays tend to range in size from three acres all the way to thousands of acres.  Many of these bays are found in the middle Costal Plain of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina. But some bays have been found in South Carolina’s upper and lower Coastal Plain as well.  Bays can form bog swamps or stay dry savannahs for most of the year.  A small number of bays can form permanent lakes, which contain deep accumulations of organic soils. Some have been drained to use as farmland.
     In the 1930’s geologists stated that the number of Carolina Bays in South Carolina was about four hundred thousand, but recent surveys have shown that this number was highly exaggerated. The number of Bays in South Carolina that has been recorded is about 410. A few of the remaining bays are Wood's Bay and Cartwheel Bay.
    There are four many theories about how the Carolina Bays formed they are: the Meteorite Theory, the Tidal Eddy theory, the Artesian Spring theory, the Underwater sea spring theory, and the prevailing wind theory. 

For more information on Carolina Bays check out this Smithsonian web site - The Riddle of the Carolina Bays.

Cypress Knees in the Swamp of Woods Bay

Local Alligator


Links to Other Sights in the Coastal Plain of S.C.

SCMaps on Woods Bay / Woods Bay State Natural Area

NatureScene at Cartwheel Bay

NatureScene at Congaree Swamp  / SCMaps on Congaree Swamp Congaree Swamp National Monument

SCMaps on Lake Marion

Barnwell State Park
Williamson Park
Little Pee Dee State Park
Lee State Natural Area
Lake Wallace

Francis Marion National Forest

Palmetto Trail

Pocotaligo Conservatory Area Park

The Team Journal

     Come along with our web team on our visit to Wood's Bay State Park.

The Ranger Station at Woods Bay
© S. Debebe-Kumssa, J. Grindrod, V. Lyles, N. Osmanski, and M. Poarch

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