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Joe Lebold sheds light on a West Virginia geological wonder

The Devil’s Backbone, a rock formation near Marlinton, West Virginia, is a sign of the compression that formed the geologic structure called the Brown’s Mountain Anticlinorium.

“When you look at Brown’s Mountain, the Devil’s Backbone is a tiny little fold, but it’s representative of the stress that formed the whole thing,” said Joe Lebold, a professor in Eberly’s Department of Geology and Geography. “It’s hard Silurian sandstone, the same as Seneca Rocks. Even with millions of years of rain and snow, it still sticks out because it’s so hard. It gives us a glimpse of the rocks that underlie the landscape.”

joe leboldIn an article published in the October 2022 issue of Wonderful West Virginia, Lebold described the Devil’s Backbone as an anticline - a fold in rock that resembles an arch. The Backbone is just a small bump on the Brown’s Mountain Anticlinorium, which spans five miles across and was created some 250 million years ago when continents collided to form the supercontinent Pangea.

Lebold has been studying West Virginia rock formations throughout his career. He published the book “Roadside Geology of West Virginia” in 2018, which sheds light on geological wonders that can be easily spotted from country roads in the Mountain State.