Flooding and Erosion at Blackwater Falls

By: Carley Posey

black water falls

Late winter brought some crazy weather in West Virginia, along with the snow and rain came flooding in all parts of the state. Blackwater Falls is a major nature attraction in Davis, WV, but does all this flooding and water coming out of the banks affect the future landmark for future generations?

Flooding hit the region in 1985, and reduced the height of the falls from 65 ft tall to 57 ft tall. However, the park still advertised the falls at a height of 65ft. Tourist that then visited the falls were disappointed to learn that the falls weren’t as tall as they thought they were. The falls still are majestic no matter the height.

The ledge of the falls is formed from Homewood and Conoquenssing sandstone, which makes the falls changeable. Millions of years ago as the Black River was flowing over the falls it washed more sediment into place to build up the falls, but as the water continues to run over it and the river begins to flood the river is less able to deposit that sediment and the falls actually take more erosion. The top ledge of the rocks don’t erode as much as the softer rock underneath the ledge that haven’t had the chance to harden like the top of the ledge that constantly has sediments running over top of it.

As the water splashes back against the rock facing it will begin to erode more and before too long geologist think the shape of the falls themselves will change with a larger top shelf and a curved middle, where the rock will be much less thick.

The falls look much more violent when they’re flooded.

During the winter the falls freeze completely over and they are kind of protected unless you get massive flooding or until the ice melts.

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6 thoughts on “Flooding and Erosion at Blackwater Falls

  1. This is one of my favorite sites to visit in the state! It’s such a serene and beautiful place. It’s interesting to think that the falls themselves could actually change shape. Hopefully the falls can sustain the change and still be a pristine landmark. Considering this is a major tourist attraction, this is definitely a serious concern. I also really like how you incorporated the videos and photos to show the falls during the different seasons of the year.

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  2. It is crazy to me that in one year the falls were reduced by 8 feet. But it’s no wonder since the falls are made of sandstone- that means it’s just a natural decay which is disappointing, but makes the situation a lot better than if it was an issue caused by humans. Also, I like all the videos you included in this post.

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  3. This does a really good job in providing insight and visuals. The videos really made the post strong in my opinion. I’ve never visited the site before, but after reading this I may need to visit soon before erosion takes over for good. I think with this being such a popular landmark or attraction, this can’t go unnoticed. In a state like WV where nature is really selling point in terms of attraction, this needs to be aided.

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  4. The use of videos and pictures contributed to making this a great post. Why do they continue to advertise the falls at 65ft if they aren’t anymore? I have never been to the falls but it seems like a beautiful place to visit in the state. The only thing that could have improved this post is if you could find a graphic or video that helps visualize how the erosion occurs.

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