Blue Ridge Metasandstone Outcrop
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Blue Ridge Metasandstone Outcrop

Southern Appalachian Rocky Summit (NatureServe 2014)

Eastern Tennessee, primarily along the state line with North Carolina, in Cocke county. Occurs along ridge tops surrounding Mount Cammerer.

Vegetation Description
Due to the community primarily consisting of bare rock, the main organisms that inhabit these communities are lichens, as vascular plants are mostly unable to inhabit the bare rock surface.

Physical Characteriation
The community occurs on the upper slopes and ridges of High-Elevation Blue Ridge mountians, mostly in the area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park around 1493m (4900 ft). The soils are considered to be very rocky Breakneck-Pullback complex which are steeply sloping (30-95%), and have a pH of 3.7. Bedrock is composed of Graywacke and metasandstone. The communities range from 30-600 square meters in size.

Natural Process
The outcrops develop via erosion which exposes the bedrock and prevents any soil deposition.

Dominant Plants

Characteristic Plants

Restricted Plants

Invasive Species

Community Variation and Subtypes
The communities consist of bare rock surface, which primarily harbors lichens, small soil packets which may harbor small perennial plants, and outcrop borders which contain plant species from the surrounding forests.

Associated Natural Communities
Blue Ridge High-Elevation Spruce-Fir Forest

Similar Communities
Blue Ridge High-Elevation Slate Outcrop

Presettlement distribution and Size
The outcrops are likely retain their pre-settlement size into the present day.

Present Status
In Tennessee, the community is fairly rare, only occurring along the boundary with North Carolina at high elevations, and is represented by 7 sites.

Representative Sites
Cocke County: Summit of Mount Cammerer (35.763694°, -83.159348°)
Due to the relative isolation and inaccessibility of the sites, no major threats affect these communities.

Management Considerations
Sites that are accessible to trails could be enclosed to limit disturbance via foot traffic.

Future Research Needs

Previous Studies

USGS is currently conducting a survey of all outcrop communities along the Appalachian Trail.


NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web
        application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: May 29, 2015).

Soil Survey Staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department
        of Agriculture. Web Soil Survey. Available online at Accessed [04/29/2015].