Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Preliminary geologic map of the Cherry Hill quadrangle, Dinwiddie, Sussex, and Greensville Counties, Virginia

March 10, 2022

The Cherry Hill 7.5-minute quadrangle straddles the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Provinces along the Tidewater Fall Line. Rocks of the eastern Piedmont Roanoke Rapids terrane crop out in the western part of the quadrangle and consist of greenschist- to amphibolite-facies Neoproterozoic felsic to intermediate metavolcanic rocks, some of which contain flattened quartz phenocrysts and are locally isoclinally folded; greenstone that locally preserves primary layering; and intrusive metadiorite and metagabbro, much of which has been altered to amphibolite. Most of these rocks are strongly foliated and jointed. Greenschist-facies metasiltstone that preserves primary bedding also occurs locally in the Roanoke Rapids terrane. Neoproterozoic mica schist, middle Paleozoic foliated metagranite, and late Paleozoic massive and porphyritic granite crop out in the eastern part of the quadrangle and are part of the Dinwiddie terrane and the late Paleozoic De Witt pluton. Upper greenschist- to lower amphibolite-facies mica schist consists of stringers and boudins of vein quartz and contains porphyroclasts of staurolite that preserve an earlier foliation as inclusion trails. Porphyroblasts of garnet, staurolite, and kyanite also occur locally. Foliation in granites of the De Witt pluton may be magmatic. Separating the Dinwiddie terrane from the Roanoke Rapids terrane are greenschist-facies, highly strained granitic mylonite and bodies of less deformed granite within the Nottoway River fault zone, which is a strand of the eastern Piedmont fault system. Paleozoic pegmatite dikes and quartz veins cross-cut rocks of the Dinwiddie terrane, and quartz veins and Jurassic diabase dikes cross-cut rocks of the Roanoke Rapids terrane.

Sand and gravel deposits of the Atlantic Coastal Plain overlie Piedmont rocks. Two units assigned to the upper part of the Neogene Chesapeake Group occur at elevations up to 295 feet (90 meters) above sea level atop the Richmond plain in the central part of the quadrangle. Two units of the Quaternary Bacons Castle Formation occupy the Essex plain and Norge uplands at elevations up to 180 feet (55 meters) above sea level in the eastern part of the quadrangle. In the western part of the quadrangle, multiple levels of terrace deposits are the fluvial equivalent of estuarine to marine units of the Atlantic Coastal Plain to the east. Holocene alluvium occurs along creeks and the Nottoway River. Quaternary colluvial deposits occur locally. Numerous Carolina bays pock the landscape of the Richmond and Essex plains, and three abandoned channelways represent former locations of Sappony Creek, one of the major drainages of the quadrangle.

Brittle faults juxtapose Piedmont basement rocks against Neogene sediments of the upper part of the Chesapeake Group. These Cenozoic faults were first uncovered in mine excavations in the late 1990s; new mapping indicates that many of these faults are reactivated silicified cataclasite zones that occur throughout the Piedmont basement rocks. Silicified cataclasites and associated quartz veins are typically mineralized with iron and iron sulfide minerals. The quadrangle was the focus of extensive mining for heavy minerals, including ilmenite and zircon, in upland Atlantic Coastal Plain deposits beginning in the mid-1990s. Other mineral resources, including precious metals, clay for structural brick, crushed stone, and building stone for millstones, have also been prospected or quarried in the quadrangle.