Appalachian Plateau Appalachian Plateau Valley and Ridge Blue Ridge Piedmont Coastal Plain Coastal Plain Coastal Plain Appalachian Plateau Valley and Ridge Blue Ridge Piedmont Coastal Plain Appalachian Plateau Valley and Ridge Blue Ridge Piedmont Coastal Plain Cross Section
 

Virginia Geology

Rocks exposed in the Commonwealth of Virginia record the advance of ancient shorelines, the collision of continents, the tracks of long-extinct dinosaurs, and over one billion years of geologic history. Virginia has a diverse landscape that extends from the high rocky summits in the Blue Ridge Mountains to low-lying barrier islands exposed to the Atlantic Ocean.

To begin discovering the geology and geologic history of Virginia click on any of the Commonwealth’s five provinces. If you’re new to geology, check our Term Definition Section, the Rock Cycle, and Geologic Time Table, to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology used.

 
 

Virginia geologic cross-section
To learn about Virginia's geology, click on a geologic province above. For a more detailed geologic map, click here.

Generalized Cross-Section of Virginia's geology
 


Gunpowder was a critical material during the Civil War and much of the Confederate gunpowder supplies were derived from niter (saltpeter) deposits that form in western Virginia caverns. Robert Whisonant from Radford University provides a thorough overview of the geology and history of saltpeter production during the Civil War in the November 2001 issue of Virginia Minerals.
 
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2011 Department of Geology