Wednesday, April 30, 2014

US Hwy 70: Cumberland Plateau

It turns out that the Cumberland Plateau which I am on is actually rather noteworthy and interesting!

The Cumberland Plateau lies west and south of the Cumberland Mountains. It combines with the Allegheny Plateau to the northeast (which lies west of the Allegheny Mountains) to form the Appalachian Plateau (which, you guessed it, lies west of the Appalachian Mountains).

What's noteworthy and interesting is that unlike a flat plateau that one might normally think of, the Cumberland Plateau is quite bumpy, hilly, even mountainous. It differs from truly mountainous areas, however, because all of the "peaks" are at basically the same height.

Standing on the hill where my campground is located, I can see numerous other hilltops at more or less eye level. This is because it was once a flat area that has been severely eroded by water runoff, probably from the last ice age. Technically speaking, it is called a dissected plateau.

This is one of those times when I wish I knew a lot more about geology, but here's my layman's summary: Instead of being mountains that have been "pushed up" by tectonic forces (like the Appalachian Mountains to the east), the "mountains" of the Cumberland Plateau have been created by erosion taking away earth around them.

So, what's interesting about that? Well, when is a mountain not a mountain? When is a plateau not a plateau? Like most things, it depends on where you are and how you look at it... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

1 comment:

Lynne D said...

I am envious - it is beautiful area of the United States. So different that other places. Rock formations are impressive as you drive through the area. Enjoy!