Monthly Archives: May 2015

Another look at the Carolina bays

I did something interesting and would like to share it…

About a year ago Michael Davias shared with me his Excel spreadsheet pertaining to the Carolina bays.  And what a spreadsheet it is.  The amount of work Michael put into locating and quantifying their locations and sizes and alignments boggles my mind.  It was, as I understand it, tied in with his LIDAR work on the bays.  And without LIDAR, probably the majority of the bays simply are not find-able.  The two – LIDAR and the data – go hand in hand, but the numbers of bays is really up there, and to think that he was able to extract so much precise data about the bays is just mind-numbing.  My hat goes off to Michael for doing so much foundational work.


A few of the more than 43,900 Carolina bays.  [Click to enlarge.]

Maybe the first question that comes to your mind is how many of them Davias was able to find.  The answer to that is 43,900 bays. [Author’s note: I have since been apprised that the number is pushing 45,000 now; the work goes on… I will continue to use the 43,900 number in this post, however… Laziness…LOL]

So the world now has a fairly precise count of the Carolina bays.  It is not half a million, as some have speculated.  It is 43,900.  But 43,900 is still a LOT of bays.  It is also a very large database from which to derive statistical meaning.

How many types of bay planforms are there?  Five types exist in the eastern USA.  Michael gave the three types the names BayCarolina, BayBell, and BaySouth, bayShore, and bayOval.  A sixth type regardless of shape is called BayWest, strictly on location – out in the Great Plains.

What is the size range?  The largest one is 7.95 km x 6.19 km.  The smallest is 0.03 km x 0.03 km.

The farthest north bay is at latitude 41.76°N; the farthest south is at 30.79°N. The farthest east is at 72.80°W; the farthest west is at 100.80°W (in the Bay West group.  Of those in the eastern USA, the farthest west is at 87.62°W. Continue reading