Appalachian Plateaus Physiography Topics

1. Regional Setting
2. Extent and Boundaries
3. Characteristic Features
4. Drainage
5. Scenic Tour
• Introduction to Physiography
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers


Appalachian Plateaus Physiography: Characteristic Features (Part 1)

• The Plateaus province has been eroded by streams into deep, narrow valleys and steep, rugged mountain sides that, unlike the Valley and Ridge features, are in random directions.

Rugged mountains are present throughout the Appalachian Plateaus province. The Russell Fork River (right) cuts a deep gorge in the mountains in Dickenson County. (Photograph by Robert Whisonant)

A satellite image of part of Tazewell County (below) shows the random drainage pattern and rugged mountains. (Photograph courtesy of American Electric Power)

Geologic cross-section showing the nearly horizontal sedimentary layers typical of the Plateaus. Because these beds are relatively flat, there are large areas where the same kinds of rock are exposed. Streams, therefore, flow across the areas of uniform resistance to erosion in more or less random directions. Notice the low-relief, “plateau-like” surface of many of the mountain tops. This reflects the nearly flat-lying nature of the underlying rock. (Image courtesy of the Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources)