Series: Phenomenal Science

What causes the vertical streaks on the Buffalo River's bluffs? Why is the river so blue? Investigate these and other common questions in the Phenomenal Science series.

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 1: Karst

    A sandstone bluff towers over a long bend in the Buffalo River.

    The rocks that define our Ozark Mountains began as sand, silt, and the remains of marine invertebrates. Over the course of millions of years, sediment continued to be deposited and formed layers as the sea level and environment changed. Read more

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 2: Floodwaters

    Murky floodwaters surge at the base of Painted Bluff

    During and after significant rain events, stormwater runs off overland, picking up sediments and other pollutants from the ground and depositing them in waterways like the Buffalo River. This explains why the river can appear murky at times. Read more

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 3: Solution Caves

    A tunnel through limestone, dissolved by water

    Solution caves are formed when acidic water (water collecting carbonate from the limestone rocks) seeps into small cracks—dissolving the rock it touches. Continuous water flow expands the crack into a cave. Read more

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 4: Lepidodendron Fossil

    A lepidodendron fossil.

    A lepidodendron was a tree that originated during the Pennsylvanian Age (about 318 million years ago). While these fossils originated during the time when Pangea (the last supercontinent) existed they are now spread out all over the globe, mostly in western Europe and eastern China. Lepidodendron, also called “Scale Trees”, are characterized by scale like bark and widespread root systems. They would grow to be about 100 feet tall and 7 feet wide. Read more

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 5: Turquoise Waters Explained

    Overlooking a bend in a river from the top of a stone cliff. Both banks are densely forested.

    “A turquoise given by a loving hand carries with it happiness and good fortune." -Arabic Proverb If you've ever been lucky enough to see the Buffalo River in the right conditions, you've surely been enamored and perplexed by the color of the water. So, what exactly causes that turquoise/teal color? Read more

  • Buffalo National River

    Article 6: Mineral-Stained Bluffs

    A limestone bluff protrudes into the Buffalo River.

    The vertical mineral stains along the bluffs of the Buffalo River vary among different rock types. Why? Read more