Abstract

Paleomagnetic dating of clastic fluvial sediments contained in caves within the walls of a steeply incised gorge allowed calculation of a maximum incision rate for the East Fork Obey River. The maximum incision rate for this major stream on the western margin of the Cumberland Plateau, north-central Tennessee, was found to be 0.06 m/ka. This rate was determined on the basis of the paleohydraulic relation between the caves and the surface stream, the presence of a normal-to-reverse polarity transition in clastic fluvial sediments deposited within the caves, and the vertical distribution of polarity found in sediments throughout the gorge. The dating results indicate that this highly developed fluviokarst, containing several of the longest known caves in the United States, developed wholly within the Pleistocene and Holocene.

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