The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 44 Number 3: 67-77 - July 1982

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Geomorphology of Burnsville Cove and the Geology of the Butler Cave-Sinking Creek System
William B. White and John W. Hess


Burnsville Cove is a synclinal valley in Bath and Highland counties, Virginia. A doline karst, an elaborate underground drainage system, and the Bulter Cave-Sinking Creek System are developed in the Silurian-Devonian Helderberg limestones. Large dolines occur in the upland portions of the cove. The cove is an underdrained valley terminating downstream at a large closed depresssion. Fitting the valley profile to exponential functions permits correlation of valley levels with terrace levels in the Bullpasture River.

The Butler Cave-Sinking Creek System is composed of a central truck channel along the synclinal axis with dip-oriented side caves. The overall pattern is a network maze with orientations controlled by the local joint pattern. The lower Clifton Forge sandstone exerts a prominent lithologic control, resulting in two interconnected tiers of caves and a locally perched drainage system at the downstream end. The cave containes a complex boulder and cobble file that seems to represent a rapid infilling event of pre-Wisconsinan age.

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