The James River Park System - Richmond, VA

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North Geology Tour

Stop 2b: The River Valley

digging deeper

What is the Fall Zone?
The Fall Zone is a band of rock that runs along the East Coast. It was formed 330 million years ago by the collision of two ancient land masses, now called North America and Africa.

Fall Zone

The Fall Zone is 11.3 km (7 mi) wide along the James River. It declines steeply from west to east along this width, causing the river to drop ~2 m per kilometer (~105 ft) between the Huguenot and I95 bridges. As the Fall Zone ends, the river flattens and becomes tidal and travels 160 km (100 mi) to the Chesapeake Bay.

Fall Zone Chart

In the 1800s and 1900s, Belle Isle was the site of factories that harnessed power from the turbulent waters of the Fall Zone. Other Virginia cities, such as Alexandria and Fredericksburg, also sprang up along the Fall Zone where the rocks and rapids prevented boat navigation upstream.

Gull Rock

Gull Rock, the last OUTCROP of Petersburg Granite at the eastern end of the Fall Zone (37.523127°N, 077.420572°W).

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