Photograph of fossilized logs at the Petrified Forest in Mississippi.

Mississippi Earth Science Quick Facts

Page snapshot: Mississippi State Geologic MapFossil; Rock; Mineral; GemHighest and Lowest Elevations; Places to Visit; and Additional Resources.

Image above: Paleogene petrified logs at the Mississippi Petrified Forest; learn more here. Photo by amanderson2 (flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, image cropped and resized).

Geologic Map of Mississippi


Geologic map of Mississippi with physiographic regions identified.

Geologic map of Mississippi showing maximum ages of mappable units. Image by Jonathan R. Hendricks for the [email protected] project developed using QGIS and USGS data (public domain) from Fenneman and Johnson (1946) and Horton et al. (2017).

Mississippi State Fossils: Prehistoric Whales (Basilosaurus cetoides and Zygorhiza kochii)

The state fossils of Mississippi are the ancient whales Basilosaurus cetoides and Zygorhiza kochii. Learn more about these ancient whales and their relatives here.


Photograph of a specimen of Zygorhiza, an ancient whale, on display at the Smithsonian.

The early whale Zygorhiza kochii. Photograph by "FunkMonk" (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license).

Mississippi State Rock: Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is designated as Mississippi’s state rock, although it is actually a type of fossil. At the Mississippi Petrified Forest in Flora, Mississippi, a large number of logs became fossilized after they washed down an ancient river channel and were buried by sediment, preventing them from decaying (learn more here). Eventually, the organic material was replaced with silicate minerals.


Photograph of a piece of petrified wood from Mississippi.

Large piece of petrified wood on display at the Mississippi Petrified Forest. Photograph by "DM" (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NoDervis 2.0 Generic license).

Mississippi State Mineral: None.

Mississippi does not have an official state mineral. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments below!

Mississippi State Gem:

Mississippi does not have an official state gem. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments below!

Mississippi's Highest and Lowest Elevations

Highest Elevation: Woodhall Mountain

Mississippi's highest point is Woodall Mountain, with an elevation of 246 meters (807 feet). The mountain was originally called Yow Hill, and it was the scene of the 1862 Battle of Iuka during the American Civil War. It is located near Mississippi Highway 25 in the state's northeastern corner.


Photograph of Woodhall Mountain in Mississippi.

Woodhall Mountain, the highest point in Mississippi. Photograph by Skye Marthaler (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).


Lowest Elevation: Gulf of Mexico Shoreline

The lowest points in Mississippi are found along the coast, where the shoreline meets the Gulf of Mexico.


Image

Beach on the Gulf of Mexico near Biloxi, Mississippi. Photograph by Nicolas Henderson (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license; image cropped and resized).

Places to Visit


Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

Jackson, Mississippi.


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Photograph of the exterior of the Mississippi Museum of Natural History.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Photograph by Warren D. Allmon.


Dunn-Seiler Museum

Mississippi State University.


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Image

The Dunn-Seiler Museum at Mississippi State University. Image provided c​ourt​esy of ​T. Brent Funderburk, Mississippi State University.


Mississippi Petrified Forest

Flora, Mississippi.


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Photograph at Petrified Forest, Mississippi, showing fossilized logs.

Fossilized logs at Petrified Forest, Mississippi. Photograph by "faungg" (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NoDervis 2.0 Generic license).

Additional resources


Learn more about the Earth science of Mississippi and the surrounding region on [email protected]


Explore
Simple map of the southeastern United States showing the boundaries of the Inland Basin, Coastal Plain, and Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions.

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