Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pocahontas County Geology

While I know my way around a species inventory, my geological knowledge would fit in a teaspoon, so I'm always looking for rock and soil resources to help me understand Pocahontas County better. Here's a collection of links I've found relating to Pocahontas County geology, geography, paleontology, and soils. After all, if you look below my blog title bar, you'll see my "blog mission statement" includes "Get to know Pocahontas County: collect empirical data...."

  • A Description of the Geology of Virginia. This is a well-done resource, and, because we share a county line with Virginia, it has information of interest to Pocahontas County geology.
  • Allegheny Mountains, from a wiki called "" this short Wikipedia-style entry lists and links to other short articles about all the named mountains in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.
  • Soil Survey of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, a 300 page pdf file from the Soil Data Mart, a service of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. This is a great resource--so outstanding I wanted to see the write-ups for other counties, but so far, all I've found are soil maps and the like. Still, I plan to do some more data shopping at the USDA-NRCS Soil Data Mart.
  • Bookcover: Fossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic StatesFossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic States: With Localities, Collecting Tips, and Illustrations of More than 450 Fossil Specimens by Jasper Burns. Google Books has some excerpts, including this:

    Locality 35: In Locust Creek near Hillsboro, Pocahontas County, WV: Greenbrier group, late Mississippian period. Locality fossils occur in chunks of chert in the stream gravel of Locust Creek, above and below the stone bridge on Locust Creek Road, 1.5 miles southeast of Rout 219. From Hillsboro, take Route 219 southwest for 2 miles, then turn left on Locust Creek Road. There is a wide parking area north of the bridge. Private farmland borders the stream, so limit collecting to the streambed itself, or ask for permission to explore elsewhere.

    Nearly all of the fossils at this locality are examples of the colonial horn coral Acrocyanthus, preserved in pieces of green, tan, and especially blue chert. Many specimens are translucent, so the internal structure may be seen in small samples or in thin slices cut with a rock saw and polished. Many of the greenish chunks turn out to be sky blue inside when cut in this way.

  • Petrology and diagenesis of the Glenray limestone member of the Bluefield formation, Pocahontas County, West Virginia, a program abstract by Donald W. Neal, of particular interest to me because the sample comes from Droop Mountain:
    The Glenray Limestone is the basal unit of the drillers¡Ç Little Lime (Reynolds-Glenray limestone couplet) in West Virginia. An outcrop of the Glenray was examined on Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, WV. The 4.5m unit consists of a fining-upwards/ shallowing-upwards unit of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic sediment. The lower part of the unit is an ooid grainstone with a typical shallow marine assemblage of crinoids, bivalves, brachiopods, gastropods, and bryozoans. The ooid grainstone grades upward to an ooid-bearing, fossiliferous packstone to wackestone. The previously recorded components are admixed with quartz silt and terrigenous mud. The upper 3m is a pelletal wackestone with both carbonate and terrigenous mud. Bioclasts are predominantly ostracodes with a sparse, low diversity fauna of similar composition to the lower section. The percentage of terrigenous material is greater higher in the section and generally finer grained. Deposition of the Glenray Limestone was in a nearshore environment where, after an initial transgression, terrigenous sediment influx increased episodically at the expense of carbonate. Diagenesis of the Glenray Limestone includes cementation of the sediment by both sparry calcite and micrite, micritization, dissolution and subsequent infilling of porosity by granular to blocky spar, recrystallization of bioclasts, minor dolomitization and silicification, formation of stylolites and solution seams, and fracturing and subsequent infilling by carbonate.
  • West Virginia Geology from WVGS The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey has some encyclopedia-style entries on geology in the state, and leans toward the economically significant aspects of geology--think coal and limestone.
  • West Virginia GIS Technical Center--GIS stands for "Geographic Information Systems." Here you'll find news and resources on GIS, digital mapping and remote sensing within the State of West Virginia.
  • Geography of West Virginia from Wikipedia. This is a stub, pointing to Geology, Fauna, and Flora entries, and a couple of nice West Virginia maps.
  • Paleontology Portal, West Virginia. This is a page in a slick Web site funded by the National Science Foundation, and supported by several museums and the US Geological Service. Their West Virginia resources are sparse, but you could probably find nifty links to general paleontology resources.


Bob Babione said...

For me, McPhee's Annals of a Former World was a good introduction to West Virginia geology, though I do not think the geological path he traces across the United States traverses West Virginia. According to the geologists McPhee cites, our Appalachians are the eroded stumps of the third Alpine-class mountain range to exist along the line that snakes from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I read that so long ago I don't remember much--that means I can enjoy it again. Thanks for the suggestion!