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The Appalachian Mountain Range Essay

1427 words - 6 pages

Moonshine, hillbillies and a one of kind dialect is what comes to mind when most people think of the Appalachian Mountains and the Appalachia people in the eastern United States. Long identified by the population and commerce found in the area, the Appalachians are also an interesting geologic feature. Running from north to south, the Appalachian Mountain Range is one of the oldest ranges on planet Earth. Beginning to form nearly a billion years ago, the Appalachian Range extends from Alabama to Newfoundland. This paper will discuss the formation of the range in the Paleozoic Era. The different geologic features and patterns found in the northern and southern areas of the range. Finally, the Appalachia people, unique ecosystem and valuable resources found in the region. The Appalachian Mountains provide a unique place to study geological features and process.
The Appalachian Mountain chain is one of the oldest mountain ranges on the Earth. The Appalachians were formed over a series of mountain building events that took place during the Paleozoic Era. The first even was the formation of the Grenville Mountains during the formation of the supercontinent Rodinia (Jamestown). The Grenville Mountains were heavily eroded and became the base of the early Appalachians. Around 450 million years ago, uplift and folding created the Taconic Mountain range which would later become the Northern Appalachian Mountains. Ongoing collisions continued to create mountains to the north in present day Canada and to the south, the southern Appalachian Mountains and to the southwest, the Ozark Plateau and mountain range. The final mountain building event occurred 300 million years ago during the collision of plates forming the supercontinent Pangaea. The Appalachian chain formed along the suture zone of the North American, South American and African plates as illustrated below. The young Appalachian mountains were much taller than the present day range and are thought to have been the same size as the modern Rocky Mountain Range in the Western United States. The Appalachians have been eroding for nearly 1 million years leaving behind their cores as the mountains we know today (Clark p. 17). Following the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age, the once covered northern mountains began to experience isostatic rebound which continues today. The Appalachian Range offers millions of years of geologic processes to study and learn from.
The southern range was built during the event called the Acadian Orogeny which took place between 430-425 millions years ago (Jamestown). The following illustration shows the southern mountains stretch from Alabama to West Virgina and include the Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Range, Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. The Southern Appalachian Mountains were not covered by ice during the recent ice age. This formed a steep jagged landscape with the highest peaks being found in the Blue Mountains. The...

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