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Amphibolite Mountains

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About the Amphibolite Mountains

The Amphibolite Mountains are a small region in northwestern North Carolina, and part of the Blue Ridge.

This region consists of rugged, steeply-sloped mountains made of amphibolite and gneiss. The amphibolite here formed from metamorphosed volcanic rock that originated on the floor of a shallow sea, and as such it was mixed with layers of mud, sand, and volcanic ash. Soils formed on this rock tend to be shallow and thin, but higher in calcium and magnesium, and thus less acidic than is typical for surrounding regions of the Appalachians.

This area was originally covered in a mix of different forest types. Warmer north, south, and west-facing slopes featured Appalachian oak forest, with American chestnut (Castanea dentata) as a dominant species, and an understory of catawba rosebay (Rhododendron catawbiense), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum), and alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). North-facing slopes and small, sheltered valleys featured cove forests, and especially at higher elevations, northern hardwood forest. These forests featured sugar maple (Acer saccharum), white ash (Fraxinus americana), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and American basswood (Tilia americana).

This area is still mostly forested; forest composition is mostly similar to its original state, although American chestnut has been mostly eliminated due to blight, and replaced with oaks.

This region is bordered to the west by the Southern Crystalline Ridges and Mountains, which also surrounds most of the region to the north and south. At the easternmost end though, where it is smaller, it is surrounded by the New River Plateau.

References

1. Comstock, J.A.; Griffith, G.E.; Omernik, J.M. "Ecoregions of North Carolina: Regional Descriptions", (2002) Web.