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Piedmont

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NameColor on MapEPA Code‡
Southern Inner Piedmont45a
Southern Outer Piedmont45b
Carolina Slate Belt45c
Talladega Upland45d
Northern Inner Piedmont45e
Northern Outer Piedmont45f
Triassic Basins45g
Pine Mountain Ridges45h
Kings Mountain45i

† Status: ✓ = Complete ○ = Needs Image … = Incomplete ∅ = Stub Only

This code refers to the US EPA's Level 4 ecoregion codes for the continental U.S., see here.

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About the Piedmont

The Piedmont is a region in the southeastern U.S., stretching northeast-southeast, in the transitional zone between the Appalachian mountains to the northwest and the Southeastern Plains to the southeast.

Most of this region is underlain by heavily weathered metapmorphic rock, with sedimentary rock in some regions. This contrasts with the dominance of sedimentary rock in the more coastal regions to the southeast. Much of the soil here is fine-textured, clayey, and acidic, contrasting with the coarser, more well-drained soils to the southeast. Topography is mostly irregular plains with some hills. Elevations begin around 200 feet (61m) and reach to 2000 feet (610m) on a few sites, but are typically under 1000 feet (305m.)

The climate is humid and subtropical, with four distinct seasons, but mild winters, and little seasonality of precipitation. Winter snow, ice, and freezing temperatures occur throughout the region, but are lighter and more fleeting in the southern end of this region.

The original forest cover throughout much of this region was Oak-Pine-Hickory forest with various Hickory (Carya) species, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, white oak, and post oak being dominant trees.

This area was heavily cultivated for agriculture following European settlement, resulting in clearing of most of the forests, and major soil loss. Agriculture here is currently in a state of decline, and much of the land is in the process of reverting back to forest. The higher temperatures make the soil here more easily degraded by Western agriculture than areas farther north whose soils are formed on similar geologic substrates.

Although agriculture is declining here, urbanization and suburbanization has been increasing. The largest metro area in this region is Atlanta, Georgia. North of this, the area is not as urbanized as the areas to the southeast and northeast. Part of the Richmond, VA metro area is contained in this region, although the city's center lies outside it. In North Carolina, Piedmont cities include Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, and Winson-Salem. In South Carolina, the Greenville–Spartanburg–Anderson metro area is contained here as well.

The southeastern border of this region with the Southeastern Plains is well-defined geologically, and marked by a fall line. To the northwest, most of this region borders the Blue Ridge of the Appalachian mountains. At the very southernmost end of this region, it is bordered to the northwest by the diverse Ridge and Valley system of the Appalachians. The northernmost end of this region borders the much smaller Northern Piedmont. This border is marked more by cooler climate and a resulting transition in forest type; areas to the north were dominated more by oak and chestnut, with less pine and hickory.

References

1. Wiken, E., Griffith, G. "North American Terrestrial Ecoregions - Level III", Commission for Environmental Cooperation, (2011) Web.