NPS Geodiversity Atlas—George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Virginia

Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.

gri report cover with photo of shoreline bluff
In-depth geologic information is contained in the baseline inventory products of the Geologic Resources Inventory, see table below.


George Washington Birthplace National Monument (GEWA) is situated in the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province along the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Established on January 23, 1930, GEWA protects approximately 267 hectares (662 acres) of historic resources that include the foundation of the home where Washington was born, the archeological remains of outbuildings, a commemorative colonial revival plantation, and the family burial grounds (Anderson 2017). Visitors to GEWA can enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, picnicking, fishing, bicycling, horseback riding, as well as exploring the historical sites or the Potomac River Beach.

Geologic Setting

The geology of GEWA and the associated Atlantic Coastal Plain province consists predominantly of young, relatively flat-lying, unconsolidated to partially consolidated units (Thornberry-Ehrlich 2009). The oldest geologic exposures within GEWA are found along the estuarine mouth of Pope’s Creek and the Potomac riverbank and are represented by Miocene-age (~11 million years old) formations of the Chesapeake Group (Ward and Blackwelder 1980). A major portion of the monument’s geologic foundation is composed of the Pleistocene (~13,000 years old) Tabb Alloformation and its members (Rader and Evans 1993). A variety of more recent units exist at Longwood Swamp, Digwood Swamp, and Dancing Marsh that consist of salt marsh, swamp, beach, and alluvium deposits.

Paleontological Resources

All NPS fossil resources are protected under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, Title VI, Subtitle D; 16 U.S.C. §§ 470aaa - 470aaa-11).

Regional Geology

George Washington Birthplace National Monument is a part of the Coastal Plain Physiographic Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.

Maps and Reports

The Geologic Resources Inventory produces digital geologic maps and reports for more than 270 natural resource parks. The products listed below are currently available for this park, check back often for updates as many maps, reports, and posters are still in progress.
  • Scoping summaries are records of scoping meetings where NPS staff and local geologists determined the park’s geologic mapping plan and what content should be included in the report.
  • Digital geologic maps include files for viewing in GIS software, a guide to using the data, and a document with ancillary map information. Newer products also include data viewable in Google Earth and online map services.
  • Reports use the maps to discuss the park’s setting and significance, notable geologic features and processes, geologic resource management issues, and geologic history.
  • Posters are a static view of the GIS data in PDF format. Newer posters include aerial imagery or shaded relief and other park information. They are also included with the reports.
  • Projects list basic information about the program and all products available for a park.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2873. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

NPS Soil Resources Inventory project has been completed for George Washington Birthplace National Monument and can be found on the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2941. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

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George Washington Birthplace National Monument

National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas

The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Last updated: June 20, 2024