Abstract

The Blue Ridge anticlinorium in northern Virginia is a part of an integrated deformational system spanning the area from the Piedmont to the Appalachian Plateaus. Deformation intensity within the system decreases from east to west. Differences of opinion have emerged concerning the central Appalachians as to whether the basement rocks exposed in the core of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium are rooted or are allochthonous. Available surface and subsurface stratigraphic and structural data suggest that the anticlinorium may be a rootless thick-skinned analogue to the rootless thin-skinned Powell Valley anticline in the Valley and Ridge. Both structures were produced during the Alleghenian orogeny by similar deformational processes. The form of the Powell Valley anticline is attributed to duplication of about 4,575 m (15,000 ft) of sedimentary rock during approximately 16 km (10 mi) of northwest movement above a subhorizontal décollement. Similarly, the form of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium is attributed to duplication of about 9,150 m (30,000 ft) of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock during a minimum of 59 km (37 mi) of northwest movement above an eastward continuation of a subhorizontal décollement within Cambrian sedimentary rocks beneath the Valley and Ridge. Thus, in northern Virginia there is a mixing of structural styles: the thick-skinned rootless Blue Ridge anticlinorium sits above a thin-skinned detachment. This relationship implies that thin- and thick-skinned styles are simply end members of a complex deformational process that includes a transition zone, where characteristics of both styles commingle.

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