Blackwater River Canyon, West Virginia

May 30, 2016

Allegheny Plateau (1)

Photographer: James Van Gundy
Summary Author: James Van Gundy

The Allegheny Plateau, also called the Appalachian Plateau, is the westernmost of the five physiographic provinces that comprise the Appalachian Mountain system in eastern North America. This mountain chain runs from Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritimes southwestward for nearly 2,000 mi (3,200 km) to north-central Alabama.

While the term plateau suggests an elevated flattened or gently rolling surface, the Allegheny Plateau in much of West Virginia has been dissected by relatively high-gradient streams that have cut deep valleys into the plateau surface. When experienced from the region’s main roads which generally follow the larger streams, the landscape is anything but flat, but rather seems dominated by relatively narrow and deep valleys bounded by steep slopes.

In this photo, the view is looking downstream from the Lindy Point overlook in West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park, into the roughly 1,000 ft (305 m) deep canyon of the Blackwater River. The canyon rim elevation here is around  3,200 ft (975 m), which approximates the overall height of the plateau surface in this area. Note that the concordant ridge tops make it possible to visualize the old plateau surface. Resistant Pennsylvanian age Pottsville Sandstone underlying most of the higher elevations in West Virginia’s portion of the plateau is seen in the outcrop in the foreground. Photo taken on May 12, 2016.

Photo Details: Nikon Coolpix 600 camera; focal length 4.3 mm; ƒ/4.2; 1/1,250 sec. exposure.