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Geology

The regional structure of the underlying rock strata dips gently to the west in a layer cake fashion with younger rock layers overlying older ones. These rocks are deposits from the Mississippian Period, dating from 360 to 320 million years ago. The dominant rock type of this sequence is the Greenbrier limestone which was created when the area was covered by an inland sea and the environment was similar to what is found in the Bahamas today.

The rocks occurring below and above this limestone are the lithified sediments from erosion of the ancestral Appalachian mountains far to the east. They are composed primarily of shales and sandstones. Due to the westward dip and the general westward trend to the river, the age of the rocks exposed along the river bottom and bank gets progressively younger as you follow the river downstream.

 

Like the New River it later joins, there is evidence that the Lower Greenbrier River is very ancient. Below Ronceverte, the river leaves the early Mississippian red shales and traverses the Greenbrier limestone. This massive 900' thick layer of soluble rock is characterized by numerous caves, sinkholes, and underground streams. On the North bank of the river, just below the village of Fort Spring, there is a large spring which is the emergence of a pirated surface stream. This spring is the subterranean runoff from the area around Lewisburg. Also in this area are abandoned "ox-bow" river channels and high river terraces. Just before the river reaches the town of Alderson, it passes through a substantial water gap cut between Muddy Creek Mountain and Mt. Pleasant. These structures date back 40 million years or more as regional uplift accelerated the downward cutting of the river and its tributaries.

 

Between Alderson and Talcott, the river meanders through the shale sequences that overlie the western dipping of limestone. The relatively easy weathering of this less resistant rock results in broad floodplains that flank both sides of the river. The last 3.5 miles of the river valleys become steep-walled as the river cuts through the younger interbedded and relatively weather-resistant sandstones of late Mississippian age.

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Flora & Fauna  
   

 

 
   

Mammals:
White-tailed Deer
Black Bear
Grey Fox
Red Fox
Bobcat
Beaver
Hare
Snowshoe Hare
Eastern Cottontail
Grey Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
Opossum
Striped Skunk
Spotted Skunk
Otter
Mink
Least Weasel
Longtail Weasel
Fisher
Woodchuck
Wood Rat
Muskrat
Mouse
Rat
Masked Shrew
Smoky Shrew
Pigmy Shrew
Vole
Yellownose Vole
Bat
Indian Bat
Small-footed Bat

Fish:
Catfish
Bullhead
Smallmouth Bass
Largemouth Bass
Rock Bass
Crappie

Reptiles:
Snapping Turtle
Spring Softshell Turtle
Hog Turtle
Northern Pine Snake
Timber Rattlesnake
Northern Watersnake

Amphibians:
Longtailed Salamander
Ravine Salamander
Mud Puppy
Frog
Bullfrog
Green Frog
Toad

   
Trees and Shrubs:
Shagbark Hickory
Pignut Hickory
Butternut
White Oak
Red Oak
Black Oak
Post Oak
Blackjack Oak
Southern Red Oak
Chestnut Oak
Red Maple
Sugar Maple
Eastern White Pine
Short Leaf Pine
Pitch Pine
Virginia Pine
Table Mountain Pine
Cucumber Tree
Umbrella Magnolia
Fraser's Magnolia
Sycamore
Beech
Eastern Hemlock
Tulip Poplar
Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood
White Ash
Yellow Birch
Blue Beech
Persimmon
Sourwood
Red Cedar
Redbud
Wild Cherry
Basswood
Black Gum
Black Locust
Buckeye
Sassafras
Alder
Hawthorne
Wild Blackberry
Huckleberry
Wild Rose
Rhododendron
Laurel
Poison Ivy
Virginia Creeper
Greenbrier
Sumac
Trillium
Violet
Orchid
Synandra
Fern
Spicebush
Pawpaw
Hydrangea
Wild Grape
Cross Vine
Holly
Hop Hornbeam
Service Berry
Blueberry
Agrimony
Early Meadow Rue
Hog-peanut
Enchanter's Nightshade
Bushclover
Aster
Pink Azaelea
Mountain Laurel
 Birds:
Turkey
Goose
Duck
Wood Duck
Bald Eagle
Peregrine Falcon
American Kestrel
Merlin
Osprey
Sharp Shinned Hawk
Common Nighthawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Marsh Hawk
Yellow Rail
Black Rail
King Rail
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Plover
Piping Plover
Upland Plover
Woodcock
Snipe
Common Tern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Red-throated Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Double-breasted Cormorant
Black-crowned Night Heron
American Bittern
Canvas Back Duck
Sandpiper
Saw Whet Owl
Barn Owl
Short-earedOwl
Red-headed Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Swainson's Warbler
Bachman's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Cliff Swallow
Bewick's Wren
Yellow Billed Cuckoo
Loggerhead Shrike
Yellow-breasted Chat
Grasshopper Sparrow
Helslow's Sparrow
Eastern Bluebird

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2002, Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River. All rights reserved.
Box 277 Alderson, WV  24910

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