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Encyclopedia > Dissected plateau
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Shaded relief map of Cumberland Plateau and Ridge and Valley Appalachians on the Virginia/West Virginia border

A dissected plateau is an area that has been uplifted, then severely eroded so that the relief is sharp. Such an area may be referred to as mountainous, but dissected plateaus are distinguishable from true mountains by lack of folding, metamorphism, extensive faulting, or magmatic activity that accompanies orogeny. The Allegheny Plateau, the Cumberland Plateau, the Ozark Plateau, and the Catskill Mountains (despite the name) are examples of dissected plateaus.


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The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the dissected plateau lands lying west of the main Appalachian Mountains.
It is a deeply dissected plateau, with topographic relief commonly of about four hundred feet (120 meters), and frequent sandstone outcroppings and bluffs.
The sedimentary rocks that compose both plateaus are of Mississippian and Pennsylvanian geological age, composed of near shore sediments washed westward from the original Appalachian Mountains.
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