Piedmont (United States)

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The James River winds its way among Piedmont hills in central Virginia. Most of the hills in the Piedmont region are smaller than these. NelsonCountyPiedmont.wmg.jpg
The James River winds its way among Piedmont hills in central Virginia. Most of the hills in the Piedmont region are smaller than these.
Piedmont Plateau, looking east from Rocky Ridge in Maryland, c. 1898 Piedmont Plateau Plate XXXVII WBClark 1898.jpg
Piedmont Plateau, looking east from Rocky Ridge in Maryland, c. 1898
Piedmont plateau region (shaded) Piedmontmap.png
Piedmont plateau region (shaded)

The Piedmont is a plateau region located in the Eastern United States. It sits between the Atlantic coastal plain and the main Appalachian Mountains, stretching from New York in the north to central Alabama in the south. The Piedmont Province is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division which consists of the Gettysburg-Newark Lowlands, the Piedmont Upland and the Piedmont Lowlands sections. [1]

Contents

The Atlantic Seaboard fall line marks the Piedmont's eastern boundary with the Coastal Plain. To the west, it is mostly bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the easternmost range of the main Appalachians. The width of the Piedmont varies, being quite narrow above the Delaware River but nearly 300 miles (475 km) wide in North Carolina. The Piedmont's area is approximately 80,000 square miles (210,000 km2). [2]

The name "Piedmont" comes from the Italian : Piemonte, meaning "foothill". [3] Ultimately from Latin "pedemontium", meaning "at the foot of the mountains", similar to the name of the Italian region of Piedmont (Piemonte), abutting the Alps.

Geology

The surface relief of the Piedmont is characterized by relatively low, rolling hills with heights above sea level between 200 feet (50 m) and 800 feet to 1,000 feet (250 m to 300 m). Its geology is complex, with numerous rock formations of different materials and ages intermingled with one another. Essentially, the Piedmont is the remnant of several ancient mountain chains that have since been eroded. Geologists have identified at least five separate events which have led to sediment deposition, including the Grenville orogeny (the collision of continents that created the supercontinent Rodinia) and the Appalachian orogeny during the formation of Pangaea. The last major event in the history of the Piedmont was the break-up of Pangaea, when North America and Africa began to separate. Large basins formed from the rifting and were subsequently filled by the sediments shed from the surrounding higher ground. The series of Mesozoic basins is almost entirely located inside the Piedmont region.

Soils and farming

Piedmont soils are generally clay-like (Ultisols) and moderately fertile. In some areas they have suffered from erosion and over-cropping, particularly in the South where cotton was historically the chief crop. In the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and Virginia, tobacco is the main crop, while in the north region there is more diversity, including orchards, dairying, and general farming. [2]

Music

The portion of the Piedmont region in the southern United States, is closely associated with the Piedmont blues, a style of blues music that originated there in the late 19th century. According to the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, most Piedmont blues musicians came from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. During the Great Migration, African Americans migrated to the Piedmont. With the Appalachian Mountains to the west, those who might otherwise have spread into rural areas stayed in cities and were thus exposed to a broader mixture of music than those in, for example, the rural Mississippi delta. Thus, Piedmont blues was influenced by many types of music such as ragtime, country, and popular songs—styles that had comparatively less influence on blues music in other regions. [4]

Cities

Many major cities are located on the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, the eastern boundary of the Piedmont. (In Georgia and Alabama, where the Piedmont runs mostly east to west, the fall line is its southern boundary.) The fall line, where the land rises abruptly from the coastal plain, marks the limit of navigability on many major rivers, so inland ports sprang up along it.

Within the Piedmont region itself, there are several areas of urban concentration, the largest being the Philadelphia metropolitan area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Piedmont cuts Maryland in half, covering the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. In Virginia, the Greater Richmond metropolitan area is the largest urban concentration. In North Carolina, the Piedmont Crescent includes several metropolitan clusters such as Charlotte metropolitan area, the Piedmont Triad, and the Research Triangle. Other notable areas include the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Combined Statistical Area in South Carolina, and in Georgia, the Atlanta metropolitan area.

See also

Related Research Articles

Appalachian Mountains Mountain range in the eastern United States and Canada

The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician Period. They once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before experiencing natural erosion. The Appalachian chain is a barrier to east–west travel, as it forms a series of alternating ridgelines and valleys oriented in opposition to most highways and railroads running east–west.

East Coast of the United States Coastline in the United States

The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard, is the coastline along which the Eastern United States meets the North Atlantic Ocean. Regionally, the term refers to the coastal states and area east of the Appalachian Mountains that have shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean, from north to south, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Geology of the Appalachians

The geology of the Appalachians dates back to more than 480 million years ago. A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian Mountains reveals elongate belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor – strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision. The birth of the Appalachian ranges marks the first of several mountain building plate collisions that culminated in the construction of the supercontinent Pangaea with the Appalachians and neighboring Little Atlas near the center. These mountain ranges likely once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before they were eroded.

A fall line is the area where an upland region and a coastal plain meet and is typically prominent where rivers cross it, with resulting rapids or waterfalls. The uplands are relatively hard crystalline basement rock, and the coastal plain is softer sedimentary rock. A fall line often will recede upstream as the river cuts out the uphill dense material, forming "c"-shaped waterfalls and exposing bedrock shoals. Because of these features, riverboats typically cannot travel any farther inland without portaging, unless locks are built. The rapid change in elevation of the water and resulting energy release make the fall line a good location for water mills, grist mills, and sawmills. Because of the need for a river port leading to the ocean, and a ready supply of water power, settlements often develop where rivers cross a fall line.

Geography of North Carolina

The geography of North Carolina falls naturally into three divisions — the Appalachian Mountains in the west, the central Piedmont Plateau, and the eastern Atlantic Coastal Plain. North Carolina covers 53,821 square miles (139,396 km2) and is 503 miles (810 km) long by 150 miles (241 km) wide. The physical characteristics of the state vary from the summits of the Smoky Mountains, an altitude of near seven thousand feet (2,130 m) in the west, sloping eastward to sea level along the coast and beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic coastal plain

The Atlantic coastal plain is a physiographic region of low relief along the East Coast of the United States. It extends 2,200 miles (3,500 km) from the New York Bight southward to a Georgia/Florida section of the Eastern Continental Divide, which demarcates the plain from the ACF River Basin in the Gulf Coastal Plain to the west. The province is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line and the Piedmont plateau, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Floridian province. The Outer Lands archipelagic region forms the insular northeasternmost extension of the Atlantic coastal plain.

Alleghanian orogeny

The Alleghanian orogeny or Appalachian orogeny is one of the geological mountain-forming events that formed the Appalachian Mountains and Allegheny Mountains. The term and spelling Alleghany orogeny was originally proposed by H.P. Woodward in 1957.

Taconic orogeny A mountain building period that affected most of New England

The Taconic orogeny was a mountain building period that ended 440 million years ago and affected most of modern-day New England. A great mountain chain formed from eastern Canada down through what is now the Piedmont of the East coast of the United States. As the mountain chain eroded in the Silurian and Devonian periods, sediments from the mountain chain spread throughout the present-day Appalachians and midcontinental North America.

Ogeechee River

The Ogeechee River is a 294-mile-long (473 km) blackwater river in the U.S. state of Georgia. It heads at the confluence of its North and South Forks, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south-southwest of Crawfordville and flowing generally southeast to Ossabaw Sound about 16 miles (26 km) south of Savannah. Its largest tributary is the Canoochee River, which drains approximately 1,400 square miles (3,600 km2) and is the only other major river in the basin. The Ogeechee has a watershed of 5,540 square miles (14,300 km2). It is one of the state's few free-flowing streams.

Geography of New Jersey

New Jersey is a state within the United States of America that lies on the north eastern edge of the North American continent. It shares a land border with the state of State of New York along the north, ratified by both states after the New York – New Jersey Line War. New Jersey is slightly larger than the country of Kuwait.

Geology of Georgia (U.S. state)

The Geology of Georgia consists of four distinct geologic regions, beginning in the northwest corner of the state and moving through the state to the southeast: the Valley and Ridge region, also known as the Appalachian Plateau; the Blue Ridge; the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. The Fall Line is the boundary between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain.

Geology of Pennsylvania

The Geology of Pennsylvania consists of six distinct physiographic provinces, three of which are subdivided into different sections. Each province has its own economic advantages and geologic hazards and plays an important role in shaping everyday life in the state. They are: the Atlantic Coastal Plain Province, the Piedmont Province, the New England Province, the Ridge and Valley Province, the Appalachian Plateau Province, and the Central Lowlands Province.

Geography of Georgia (U.S. state)

The geography of Georgia describes a state in the Southeastern United States in North America. The Golden Isles of Georgia lie off the coast of the state. The main geographical features include mountains such as the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians in the northwest, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northeast, the Piedmont plateau in the central portion of the state and Coastal Plain in the south. The highest area in Georgia is Brasstown Bald which is 1,458 m (4,784 ft) above sea level, while the lowest is at sea level, at the Atlantic Ocean. Georgia is located at approximately 33° N 83.5° W. The state has a total area of 154,077 km2 (59,489 sq mi) and the geographic center is located in Twiggs County.

The Geographical Regions of South Carolina refers to the three major geographical regions of South Carolina: the Appalachian Mountains in the west, the central Piedmont region, and the eastern Atlantic Coastal Plain. The largest region in the state is the Piedmont located between the Mountains and the Carolina Sandhills, while the smallest in region in the state is the Mountains also known as the Blue Ridge Range.

Piedmont Mountains

The Piedmont Mountains are outlying mountains in the United States, sometimes called “low mountains”, that typically occur in the western Piedmont near the Blue Ridge. Most of the features within the Piedmont physiographic province of North America lie either on the eastern border where the plateau plunges onto the Atlantic Coastal Plain at the Fall Line, in the broad valleys of the river systems, or on the western border where Piedmont Mountains likely occur. Occasionally, due to diverse rock formations, folds and outcroppings, these mountains can rise at various locations across the Piedmont like the Uwharrie Mountains in North Carolina or the Pine Mountain Range in Georgia. Most of these mountains, or hills, are what is left of ancient eroded mountains. Some, like Stone Mountain in Georgia, are solitary rock domes called Monadnocks which become further exposed with erosion. The Piedmont is part of the greater Appalachian Mountain Range and is also referred to as the Appalachian Plateau. The French definition of piedmont in itself translates as foothill; however, a Piedmont Mountain may be that of greater significance or prominent elevation.

Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line escarpment in the Eastern United States

The Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line, or Fall Zone, is a 900-mile (1,400 km) escarpment where the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain meet in the eastern United States. Much of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line passes through areas where no evidence of faulting is present.

Geology of North America

The geology of North America is a subject of regional geology and covers the North American continent, third-largest in the world. Geologic units and processes are investigated on a large scale to reach a synthesized picture of the geological development of the continent.

The geology of North Carolina includes ancient Proterozoic rocks belonging to the Grenville Province in the Blue Ridge. The region experienced igneous activity and the addition of new terranes and orogeny mountain building events throughout the Paleozoic, followed by the rifting of the Atlantic Ocean and the deposition of thick sediments in the Coastal Plain and offshore waters.

References

  1. "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S." U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Piedmont". The Columbia Gazetteer of North America, 2000. Archived from the original on March 10, 2005. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  3. "Definition of piedmont | Dictionary.com". www.dictionary.com.
  4. http://piedmontblues.org/ Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

Further reading