Coastal Plain Physiography Topics

1. Regional Setting
2. General Physiography
3. Beaches and Shores
Sea Level Changes
4. Special Features
• Introduction to Physiography
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers


Special Physiographic Features, Part 3

Carolina Bays

• Carolina Bays are mysterious features common along the Atlantic Coastal Plain.  There are approximately 500,000 known between northern Florida and southern New Jersey.

• Bays are shallow, oval-shaped depressions with the long axis oriented S 50 E, and having a raised rim of sand on the east and southeast side.

Topographic map (above) shows Carolina Bays in Virginia’s Eastern Shore near Exmore.  The arrow indicates a large bay, but many others are present on the map.  Strong Pleistocene winds blowing toward the southeast may have helped create these.

• Age of the bays is thought to be approximately 100,000 to 200,000 years old.

• Many theories of origin have been proposed, including:

• meteorite swarm impact

• ancient bays or lagoons

Pleistocene fish beds.

1.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago

• The latest idea suggests that the bays may have been formed by strong winds blowing in one direction across water ponded in shallow surface depressions.