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Southern Inner Piedmont

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About the Southern Inner Piedmont

The Southern Inner Piedmont is a region along the northwestern edge of the Piedmont, towards its southern end. It extends from a small portion in western North Carolina, southwest through South Carolina and Georgia, and well into eastern Alabama. Most of the region is located within Alabama and Georgia, where it is widest. Presently, this region is mostly forested.

This region is a hilly, dissected upland, with a mix of open hills, tablelands, and some isolated higher mountains. Elevations reach from 350 to 2,900 feet, with local relief of 200-400ft. The landscape tends to become less rugged as one moves southeast, towards the coast and away from the Appalachians. The bedrock here is mostly a mix of schist, gneiss, and granite. The southwesternmost part of this region also has a large portion of mica schist and saprolite, chemically-weathered rock derived from the original rock here. In the northeast of the region, biotite gneiss is more common. The warmer temperatures here have led to thorough weathering and leaching of these rocks, and the soils here are mostly ultisols (red clay soils). Floodplains have less weathered soils with a coarser texture.

The average climate here is humid and subtropical, with high precipitation distributed roughly equally throughout the year. There is some variation in climate both by elevation and latitude: the highest-elevation regions here have a cooler, wetter climate more typical of the mountains to the northwest.

Originally, this region was mostly covered with oak-hickory-pine forest, but there was considerable diversity in plant cover on different sites.

Presently, most of this region is forested, but there is significant pastureland as well, and some smaller areas of cropland. There is also significant forestry here, with large areas of pine plantation.

Over its entire length, this region is bordered to the southeast by the Southern Outer Piedmont. This border is ill-defined and represents a gradual transition based on soil temperature regime and changes in vegetation. The northeastern part of this region is bordered to the northwest by the higher-elevation Blue Ridge of the Appalachians. Farther southwest, it is bordered instead to the northwest by the Talladega Upland, and on either sides of this, by the southern end of the Ridge and Valley system. Both of these borders are well-defined and based on changes in the underlying geology.

References

1. Comstock, J.A.; Griffith, G.E.; Omernik, J.M. "Ecoregions of North Carolina: Regional Descriptions", (2002) Web.

2. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Comstock, J.A., Lawrence, S., Martin, G., Goddard, A., Hulcher, V.J., and Foster, T. "Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs)", U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA (2001) Web.