Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

J. Steven Kite

Committee Co-Chair

Thomas Wilson

Committee Member

Joe Donovan


Ice Mountain is an algific talus slope located in Hampshire County, West Virginia, protected for its status as a biological refugium. Both the origin of the slope and the mechanism by which cold air is produced from the base of the slope have remained mysteries to local residents and tourists for many years. This research effort takes a scientific approach to exploring the mysteries of Ice Mountain. Bedrock and surficial geologic mapping provides an understanding of the physical environment of the slope area, while geophysical survey data provide clues to the subsurface of the slope. The algific talus consists of Oriskany Sandstone boulders sitting unconformably on steeply dipping Devonian Marcellus-Needmore Shale bedrock. The talus accumulation probably formed under periglacial conditions that existed during the Quaternary at Ice Mountain. Bedrock benches in the subsurface of the slope provide surfaces on which cooler air and water become trapped, resulting in frost and ice accumulation. Surface benches at the bottom of the slope are continuously cooled by gravity-driven, katabatic down slope winds. A comparison of the Ice Mountain algific slope with algific slopes in Iowa reveals that the slopes differ somewhat in structural makeup and airflow cycles, yet both sustain unusual cold environments supporting species typically limited to more northern or higher elevation sites.

Included in

Geology Commons