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Marblehead Drift/Limestone Plain

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About the Marblehead Drift/Limestone Plain

The Marblehead Drift/Limestone Plain is a region in northern Ohio bordering Lake Erie but extending inland as well. It includes several islands in Lake Erie.

This region is underlain by bedrock of limestone and dolomite, covered with glacial till and lake sediments that are poorly-drained but thin in places and sometimes absent, leading to outcroppings of the carbonate bedrock. There are also some glacial moraines and beach sand deposits. The soils in this area are mostly fertile and attractive for Western agriculture.

The region has a humid continental climate, with the region along the lake moderated by the lake's presence. The shape of the coastline combined with the west-east pattern of most weather systems combines to create less lake-effect precipitation than in areas farther east. Winter precipitation is thus slightly lower and cloud cover slightly higher than areas to the east, and this area has more total precipitation in summer than in winter. The frost-free growing season ranges from 160-197 days, and as long as 205 days on the islands in Lake Erie.

This area was historically covered with extensive elm-ash swamp forest and beech forests. Ridges and other well-drained areas supported mixed oak forest. There were scattered prairies on thin-soiled ridges, and fens (mineral-rich bog-like wetlands) along Lake Erie.

The landscape here has been severely altered by artificial drainage, mostly for agriculture. The region produces corn, small grains, soybeans, hay, and especially along the lake where the microclimate is mild, vegetables and fruits. There is also some residential and industrial development along the lake. This region contains the city of Sandusky, the smaller city of Fremont, and many smaller towns. There is little remaining forest cover; what remains mostly exists in woodlots and small forest fragments. There are some preserved areas of wetlands along Lake Erie but these wetlands still exist in a state severely altered by channelization.

This region is bordered to the west by the similar but more poorly-drained Maumee Lake Plain, to the south by the better-drained Clayey High Lime Till Plains, and to the east by the more intensely lake-influenced Erie/Ontario Lake Plain.

References

1. Woods, A.J, Omernik, J.M., Brockman, C.S., Gerber, T.D., Hosteter, W.D., Azevedo, S.H. "Ecoregions of Indiana and Ohio (Poster)", US Geological Survey (1998) Web.