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Geomorphology, active tectonics, and landscape evolution in the Mid-Atlantic region

January 1, 2015

In 2014, the geomorphology community marked the 125th birthday of one of its most influential papers, “The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania” by William Morris Davis. Inspired by Davis’s work, the Appalachian landscape rapidly became fertile ground for the development and testing of several grand landscape evolution paradigms, culminating with John Hack’s dynamic equilibrium in 1960. As part of the 2015 GSA Annual Meeting, the Geomorphology, Active Tectonics, and Landscape Evolution field trip offers an excellent venue for exploring Appalachian geomorphology through the lens of the Appalachian landscape, leveraging exciting research by a new generation of process-oriented geomorphologists and geologic field mapping. Important geomorphologic scholarship has recently used the Appalachian landscape as the testing ground for ideas on long- and short-term erosion, dynamic topography, glacial-isostatic adjustments, active tectonics in an intraplate setting, river incision, periglacial processes, and soil-saprolite formation.

This field trip explores a geologic and geomorphic transect of the mid-Atlantic margin, starting in the Blue Ridge of Virginia and proceeding to the east across the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain. The emphasis here will not only be on the geomorphology, but also the underlying geology that establishes the template and foundation upon which surface processes have etched out the familiar Appalachian landscape. The first day focuses on new and published work that highlights Cenozoic sedimentary deposits, soils, paleosols, and geomorphic markers (terraces and knickpoints) that are being used to reconstruct a late Cenozoic history of erosion, deposition, climate change, and active tectonics. The second day is similarly devoted to new and published work documenting the fluvial geomorphic response to active tectonics in the Central Virginia seismic zone (CVSZ), site of the 2011 M 5.8 Mineral earthquake and the integrated record of Appalachian erosion preserved on the Coastal Plain. The trip concludes on Day 3, joining the Kirk Bryan Field Trip at Great Falls, Virginia/ Maryland, to explore and discuss the dramatic processes of base-level fall, fluvial incision, and knickpoint retreat.

Publication Year 2015
Title Geomorphology, active tectonics, and landscape evolution in the Mid-Atlantic region
Authors Frank J. Pazzaglia, Mark W. Carter, Claudio Berti, Ronald C. Counts, Gregory S. Hancock, David Harbor, Richard W. Harrison, Matthew J. Heller, Shannon A. Mahan, Helen Malenda, Ryan McKeon, Michelle S. Nelson, Phillip Prince, Tammy M. Rittenour, James Spotilla, G. Richard Whittecar
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70155030
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center