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Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains

December 24, 2008

The Southern Appalachian Mountains includes the Blue Ridge province and parts of four other physiographic provinces. The Blue Ridge physiographic province is a high, mountainous area bounded by several named mountain ranges (including the Unaka Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains) to the northwest, and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the southeast. Metamorphic rocks of the mountains include (1) fragments of a billion-year-old supercontinent, (2) thick sequences of sedimentary rock that were deposited in subsiding (sinking) basins on the continent, (3) sedimentary and volcanic rocks that were deposited on the sea floor, and (4) fragments of oceanic crust. Most of the rocks formed as sediments or volcanic rocks on ocean floors, islands, and continental plates; igneous rocks formed when crustal plates collided, beginning about 450 million years ago. The collision between the ancestral North American and African continental plates ended about 270 million years ago. Then, the continents began to be stretched, which caused fractures to open in places throughout the crust; these fractures were later filled with sediment.

This product (U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 2830) consists of a geologic map of the Southern Appalachian Mountains overlain on a shaded-relief background. The map area includes parts of southern Virginia, eastern West Virginia and Tennessee, western North and South Carolina, northern Georgia and northeastern Alabama. Photographs of localities where geologic features of interest can be seen accompany the map. Diagrams show how the movement of continental plates over many millions of years affected the landscapes seen today, show how folds and faults form, describe important mineral resources of the region, and illustrate geologic time. This two-sided map is folded into a convenient size (5x9.4 inches) for use in the field. The target audience is high school to college earth science and geology teachers and students; staffs of educational and interpretive programs within Federal, State, and private agencies; and tourists and residents of the Southern Appalachian region who want to know more about the area. The map is companion to the DVD, 'The Southern Appalachians, a Changing World' ( and the Teacher's Guide and brochure, 'Birth of the Mountains' ( The map shows the location of sites that are featured in these publications.

Publication Year 2008
Title Geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains
DOI 10.3133/sim2830
Authors Sandra H. B. Clark
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Map
Series Number 2830
Index ID sim2830
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization U.S. Geological Survey