The Buffalo Mountain-Cherokee Mountain area in northeastern Tennessee includes about 45 square miles and is located along the southeast border of the Appalachian Valley and Ridge geomorphic province. The mountainous part of the area is underlain almost entirely by the Buffalo Mountain thrust sheet, which has been separated by two minor thrust faults into three imbricate thrust blocks.
Cambrian and Precambrian (?) rocks in the Buffalo Mountain thrust sheet consist of the Unicoi, Hampton, and Erwin formations (Chilhowee group) and the Shady dolomite. Younger, Cambrian-Ordovician rocks beneath the thrust sheet include the Honaker limestone, Nolichucky shale, Knox dolomite, and Athens shale.
During or following the thrusting, all the rocks in the area were folded into a synclinorium trending northeast-southwest. Some folding apparently preceded the thrusting. Several “shear faults” mapped by Keith in this area do not appear to exist. An interesting feature of the structure is the number of slices that have been broken off and dragged along the thrust surfaces. Slices of younger rocks have been found between older rocks, and slices of older rocks between younger. Cleavage and a low-rank metamorphism are present. Deformation probably occurred in late Paleozoic time during the Appalachian orogeny.