Physiography Topics

1. Introduction
2. Physiography v. Geology
3. Importance of Roanoke
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers


Importance of Roanoke

• Roanoke, Virginia is an important place in the Appalachian Mountains because it is the dividing point between the Central and Southern Appalachians. 

• The Central Appalachians (Roanoke to northern New York) have a narrower and lower Piedmont and Blue Ridge, and generally broader Valley and Ridge and Plateaus provinces.

• The Southern Appalachians (Roanoke to Alabama) have a broader and higher Piedmont and Blue Ridge, and have a narrower Valley and Ridge and Plateaus provinces.


Roanoke marks the transition from the transition from the Southern to the Central Appalachians. These two parts of the mountain chain show important physiographic and geologic differences. (Image by Phyllis Newbill. Base map courtesy of the United States Geological Survey)

• Roanoke marks the break point between the central and southern Appalachians.  Here the Valley and Ridge shows a sharp change in direction from about North 60 degrees East south of Roanoke to about North 30 degrees East north of Roanoke.

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. )

• The rocks are different also, being more deformed (with tighter folds and more thrust faults) in the southern Appalachians than in the central Appalachians.