1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fall-line

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FALL-LINE, in American geology, a line marking the junction between the hard rocks of the Appalachian Mountains and the softer deposits of the coastal plain. The pre-Cambrian and metamorphic rocks of the mountain mass form a continuous ledge parallel to the east coast, where they are subject to denudation and form a series of “falls” and rapids in the river courses all along this line. The relief of the land below the falls is very slight, and this low country rarely rises to a height of 200 ft., so that the rivers are navigable up to the falls, while the falls themselves are a valuable source of power. A line of cities may be traced upon the map whose position will thus be readily understood in relation to the economic importance of the fall-line. They are Trenton on the Delaware, Philadelphia on the Schuylkill, Georgetown on the Potomac, Richmond on the James, and Augusta on the Savannah. It will be readily understood that the softer and more recent rocks of the coastal plain have been more easily washed away, while the harder rocks of the mountains, owing to differential denudation, are left standing high above them, and that the trend of the edge of this great lenticular mass of ancient rock is roughly parallel to that of the Appalachian system.