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Soils, geomorphology, landscape evolution, and land use in the Virginia Piedmont and Blue Ridge

By
W. Cullen Sherwood
W. Cullen Sherwood
Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 800 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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Anthony S. Hartshorn
Anthony S. Hartshorn
Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 800 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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L. Scott Eaton
L. Scott Eaton
Department of Geology and Environmental Science, James Madison University, 800 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2010

Abstract

The object of this field trip is to examine the geology, landforms, soils, and land use in the eastern Blue Ridge and western Piedmont geologic provinces in Orange County in central Virginia. A complex mix of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic bedrocks, ranging in age from Mesoproterozoic to Triassic (possibly some Jurassic) underlie the area. Soils are equally varied with a total of 62 series mapped in Orange County alone. The area being relatively stable tectonically, landforms generally reflect the resistance to weathering of the bedrock. Area landforms range from a low ridge over Catoctin greenstone to a gently rolling Triassic basin. Soils examined on the trip represent three orders: Ultisols, Alfisols, and Inceptisols. Residual soils clearly reflect the compositions of the parent rocks and saprolites are common. Map patterns of forested versus nonforested lands bear a striking resemblance to the distribution patterns of the different soil and bedrock types. Our work has shown that the vast majority of the land in central Virginia, even that forested today, shows evidence of past clearing and cultivation. However, the harsh demands of growing tobacco wore out the less fertile and more erodible soils by the mid-nineteenth century resulting in their abandonment and the subsequent regeneration of the vast tracts of hardwood forests we see today. Only the most productive soils remain in agriculture.

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Contents

GSA Field Guide

The Mid-Atlantic Shore to the Appalachian Highlands

Gary M. Fleeger
Gary M. Fleeger
Pennsylvania Geological Survey 3240 Schoolhouse Road Middletown, Pennsylvania 17057-3534 USA
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Steven J. Whitmeyer
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Department of Geology and Environmental Science James Madison University 800 S. Main Street, MSC 6903 Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807 USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
16
ISBN electronic:
9780813756165
Publication date:
January 01, 2010

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