Victor, the 20th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season formed early this morning. Last season we had 30 named storms and had to dip into the Greek alphabet which was really confusing. Thankfully that won’t be the case this year but hopefully there won’t be a need to find out.

Living on the coast has always been a tenuous proposition. The benefits historically outweighed the tropical storm and flood risks, perhaps because those risks didn’t happen so often. That’s simply not the case anymore and if you need a clear indicator that we’re being impacted more frequently,  just look at the number of structures that have been raised in Oriental over the last decade, particularly the last few years.

That’s why we’ve got a lot of Elevation Appreciation at AP. This year in recognition we’re sharing some cool pictures showing off some of that elevation as well as nerdy geological information about the Minnesott ridge for all you science types!

The Atlantic basin hurricane activity on September 30, 2021 with Hurricane Sam visible.
The Atlantic basin on September 30, 2021 showing Hurricane Sam, the 20th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.


Geologic description of the Minnesott ridge

An excerpt in a 1972 article from the Carolina Geological Society and the Atlantic Coastal Plains Geological Association.

“The Minnesott Ridge is a ridge of sand 1 mile or less wide, whose seaward face forms part of the Suffolk Scarp between the Pamlico and Neuse Estuaries. The ridge has an altitude of up to 65 feet. It rises 25 to 30 feet above the Talbot surface to the west and 50 feet above the Pamlico surface to the east. The topography of the ridge crest is extremely variable. It may be flat or dune-like with small irregular-shaped depressions.”

Those “small irregular shaped depressions” are responsible for a lot of AP’s character and are visible in the USGS 3D Map below.

The steepest slopes are indicated by the darker regions.
The USGS 3D Map viewer does a great job showing dramatic elevation differences in low lying areas. The steepest slopes can be seen in red. Notice all the steep slopes along the Mill Creek tributaries. These create some very unique geography for the area.


Geologic explantion of the Minnesott ridge

An explanation of how our area formed geologically from the same article mentioned above.

“The Minnesott ridge is a distinct topographic feature between the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers, but there is little evidence of the ridge sand occurring elsewhere along the Suffolk Scarp. The ridge appears to be a combination storm and dune ridge. Its position must have somehow been unique because there is no other area along the Suffolk Scarp in North Carolina that is similar. The ridge is most certainly associated with the forces that resulted in deposition of the Pamlico MSU because it merges with the Pamlico on the east and buries peat and other soils or evidence of subaerial weathering at the top of the Talbot to the west. We suggest the possibility of this area to the east being open ocean. A second alternative is that the Pamlico and Talbot is one sedimentary unit. This would make the Minnesott Ridge a post-depositional feature probably associated with a high stand of sea level at about +20 feet, and it would make the Pamlico surface an erosion surface.”

The Minnesott ridge is clearly visible in this heatmap visualization.
The highest elevations can be seen in red and follow along the Minnesott Ridge. AP is located SW of the ridge.


Where Arlington Place is located along the Minnesott ridge.
You can really get an appreciation for how high the land along the Minnesott ridge sits above the Neuse river when viewing the Bluffs from the water.


The Neuse River bluffs near Arlington Place, a riverfront neighborhood located in Minnesott Beach, NC.
The Bluffs and their magnificent height can be seen here behind local fisherman Ben Bruno.


High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.
Nicely perched about 20′ above Mill Creek. Elevation really is better than flood insurance.

Marine fossils are abundant both as basal hash layer and as few to common shells dispersed throughout a sandy matrix. Out of 45 boreholes through the Pamlico, 32 had fossils.

Yes, you can find fossils right in your backyard!


Another Geologic description of the Minnesott ridge

Here’s another geological explanation for our areas origins. This one comes from a 1982 natural areas inventory conducted by the North Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.

“The eastern two-thirds of Pamlico county is on the Pamlico marine terrace or Pamlico surface. The Pamlico is the lowest and youngest of the several generalized surfaces of the state’s Coastal Plain recognized as having been formed during periods of higher sea level. The history of sea level rise and fall which formed the Pamlico surface is complex. About 75,000 yrs. BP (Daniel, 1981), during the Pamlico transgression, the edge of the sea lay in- land to a point now marked by the sandy ridge of the Suffolk Scarp, known as Minnesott Ridge in Pamlico County. The toe of the scarp is now about 20 ft. above modern sea level, and 10-15 miles west of the Pamlico Sound shoreline of the county. During the peak of the Wisconsin glaciation (15,000 yrs. BP), sea level stood as much as 400 ft. below its modern level (Daniel, 1981). Since that period the sea has risen to its present level, and continues to rise today.

For the two natural areas described here, and in general for Pamlico County, the minnesott Ridge averages slightly more than 0.75 mile wide. Maximal elevations above mean sea level range from 35 to 47 feet, and the entire ridge crest north of Arapahoe is above 40 feet elevation (higher in Beaufort County). The ridge and scarp trend north-south. To the east the face of the Grantsboro, Scarp is steep, falling off rather quickly to elevations of approximately 20 feet.”

Some pretty pictures living along the Minnesott ridge

High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.High elevation creek and riverfront homesites at Arlington Place.

What our neighbors say about living along the Minnesott ridge

Thinking about moving to the coast?  Do your research and ask the right questions about flood risk.  Better yet, ask the people who live here, many of which moved to AP to escape a flood zone.  Residents Bill & Cathy Cresswell echo the way many of us feel.

“We had fallen in love with the Oriental area long ago, and knew it was in our retirement plans. We lived for 7-1/2 years in the northern part of the county, on the south shore of the Bay River. It was beautiful, it was a wonderful neighborhood, and it had an elevation of just over 8 feet! Hurricane Irene “gently” told us that we needed to think about moving to higher ground, and when a surprise opportunity to sell our house presented itself, we listened to Irene’s message! Some things are just meant to be. Since moving to Arlington Place in 2013, we have no worries about which way the wind blows (the Pamlico Sound’s wind-driven tides used to dictate our lives!). We have found AP to be the perfect community. We can walk or bike for miles without a lot of car traffic. The amenities are fabulous, and the best part is that we have met such wonderful new friends while still maintaining our old activities and friends from all around Pamlico County. The best advice we can give to newcomers to the Pamlico County area is to consult an elevation map! Flood zones show you that the best place is in the Minnesott Beach area, and in our opinion, the VERY BEST of Minnesott is Arlington Place!”

Don’t just buy a home, buy yourself peace of mind that your family and your investment are protected, no matter what Mother Nature brings.