Serpentine Barrens in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland

Thu, 2019-01-03 09:35 -- gsparrow
3 Jan
Mike Slater
A serpentine savanna at New Texas Serpentine Barrens in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium).

IF YOU ARE interested in unusual natural habitats and are traveling to eastern Pennsylvania in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, you should be aware of our small cluster of serpentine barrens. This globally rare soil type results in unusual plant communities. Serpentine is a metamorphosed ultramafic type of rock that is formed when sea- floor rocks high in magnesium and iron are metamorphosed by heat and contact with seawater as continents collide. The name mafic is derived from the chemical symbol Ma for magnesium + Fe for iron. Adding the prefix ultra, of course, means they contain a very high percentage of these metals compared to most rocks. There are many outcrops of ultramafic rocks around the world, but they only make up a small percentage of the land surface of the continents. (Brooks, 1987)

 

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