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Unglaciated Upper Muskingum Basin

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About the Unglaciated Upper Muskingum Basin

The Unglaciated Upper Muskingum Basin is the northwesternmost portion of the Western Allegheny Plateau; it is located entirely within Ohio and centers around Coshocton and Tuscarawas counties and a bit east, north, and south of there.

This region is a dissected plateau underlain by a mix of sandstone, shale, siltstone, limestone, and coal. Elevations range from 660 to 1,350 feet, with local relief of 200,550 feet. Although most of the region is hilly, there are broad, flat bottomlands along the major rivers. Many of the river valleys are disproportionate to the size of the streams in them, as they are part of the abandoned Teays River drainage system. Soils on the uplands range from fine, silty loams to deep, well-drained loams, and tend to be acidic except in local areas of limestone. In steeper areas there are spots of less-developed, rockier soils developed from colluvium. Soils along stream terraces tend to be deep but somewhat poorly-drained. Overall the soils here are well-suited to Western agriculture where the terrain is not too steep.

This region was originally mostly covered with a combination of mixed oak forests on the drier sites, and mixed mesophytic forests on the mesic sites. There were small areas of American beech (Fagus grandifolia) forest, oak-sugar maple, and on the poorly-drained bottomlands, elm-ash swamp forests.

Current land use is a mix of agriculture and forest, with some mining of bituminous coal and some oil and gas wells. Forests here are fragmented and interspersed with agriculture, but there is much more forest cover than areas to the north and west, and the fragments here tend to be larger. This area tends to be less degraded by coal mining than areas to the south. Agriculture here includes dairy and livestock farming and general farming. Current forest cover is mostly of mixed oak with understory of red maple.

The northern and western borders of this region, with the Low Lime Drift Plain, are abrupt and well-defined, representing the limit of recent glaciation. There are two small areas where this region directly borders the Summit Interlobate Area to the north. To the east, this region borders the Pittsburgh Low Plateau, and to the south, the Ohio/Kentucky Carboniferous Plateau. There is an even larger border to the southeast with the Monongahela Transition Zone.


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.