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Symposium Year: 2012
Student(s): Robert Hoffmaster
Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Philip P. Allen
The central Appalachian region of the United States contains many relic geomorphological landforms that are currently only found in higher latitudes and alpine environments (e.g. Alaskan & Canadian Arctic, NW Rockies). The landforms of the Appalachian highlands serve as robust proxies of former periglacial environments that developed during the Pleistocene (2.5 Ma – 11,000 Ka) epoch. The relict periglacial geomorphology of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, WV is a key location for the construction of former Mean Annual Air Temperatures (MAAT) of the central Appalachian region. By applying a combination of landform mapping via remote sensing and ground truthing fieldwork, a course resolution geomorphological map depicting the spatial relationships of features such as boulder fields, gelifluction drapes and stone sorting of the Dolly Sods Wilderness area has been produced. The mapped area describes a characteristic altitude for the development of boulder fields of ~ 1220m ASL along a well-defined NNE trending plateau. The presence of the boulder fields at these specific altitudes has produced a tentative paleo MAAT of -2 degrees C, indicating the central Appalachian region were free of glacial ice but subjected to prolonged periods of intense cold climatic conditions during the last glacial advance.
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