SCSB# 395
MLRA 125: Cumberland Plateau and Mountains
J.T. Ammons1, R.E. Yoder1, and R.J. Luxmoore2
1University of Tennessee and 2Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Chapter Content Location, Extent, and Landuse
The Cumberland Plateau and Mountains extend from southern West Virginia through eastern Kentucky, central Tennessee, and into northwest Alabama. This major land resource area (MLRA 125) occupies a total land area of 5,165,800 ha. A significant portion of this region is dedicated to commercial timber production. Corn, hay land, pasture, and vegetable production are the crops that are commonly grown. With a cooler climate, related to increase in elevation, this region has the potential for major production of vegetable crops.

Climate
According to USDA (1981), the annual precipitation is 1,175 mm, with about 525 mm falling during the growing season, the average annual temperature is 13°C, and the average freeze-free period is 175 days.

Physiography and Geology
Conglomeritic sandstone, siltstone, shale, and coal are the major rock types of the Cumberland Plateau. These rocks, from the Paleozoic Era, are of the Pennsylvanian period and are underlain by shales, limestone, and dolomite of the Mississippian period. Coal and petroleum are important natural resources of this area.

Soils
The occurrence of soil series and associated properties for MLRA 125 are summarized in Table 1. STATSGO soils are depicted in Fig. 1. The soils in MLRA 125 are predominantly shallow and formed in sandstone and shales. The pedon selected from Cumberland County represents the Cumberland Plateau developed in Pennsylvanian sandstone. Soil morphology, classification, and parent material are presented in Table 2. Total elemental concentrations are presented in Table 3.

Fig 1. STATSGO soils of the Cumberland Plateau and Mountains in MLRA 125.

Hydrogeology
MLRA 125 lies in the Appalachian Plateaus subregion of the Appalachian Plateaus and Valley and Ridge ground water region of North America. The topography in this subregion is generally a series of sloping, uplifted, dissected plateaus capped by resistant layers (frequently sandstone). The topography is characterized by deep, steep-sided valleys and escarpments. Altitudes within the subregion range from 500 to 600 m above mean sea level, but may exceed 1000 m in some locations. The rocks of the subregion are gently folded or flat lying; fractures and jointing are common. Secondary permeability in joints and stress-fractures accounts for most of the porosity and permeability in this area (Back et al., 1988).

The regolith is very thin and most ground water is stored in joints and fractures of the rocks. Dynamic flow systems generally occur within 100 m of the land surface and very infrequently below 200 m (Back et al., 1988). Springs are common along the sides of the plateaus. Few aquifers of regional extent are known.

The chemistry of the water in the MLRA is quite variable, typically slightly acidic, and low in dissolved solids (Zurawski, 1978). The ground water often reflects the chemistry of the rocks in the aquifer.

Water and Solute Transport
Soils of MLRA 125 include shallow soils developed on sandstone bedrock. Many soils are forested and their water and solute transport behavior may have similarities with the shallow forest soils developed on shale parent material discussed for MLRA 128. No specific information was found on the water and solute transport attributes of MLRA 125.

Literature Cited
Back, W., J.S. Rosenshein, and P.R. Seaber, editors. 1988. Hydrogeology: The geology of North America, Volume O-2. The Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Mote, C.R., J.R. Buchanan, and J.T. Ammons. 1995. Evaluation of the performance of on-site domestic wastewater systems specified for sites with shallow soils. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. American Society of Agricultural Engineers 11(3):437-437.

USDA-SCS. 1981. Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States. Agriculture Handbook 296. Washington, DC.

Zurawski, A. 1976. Summary appraisals of the nationís ground water resources; Tennessee Region. p. 35. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 813-L.




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Electronic document prepared by:
D.L. Nofziger, Oklahoma State University
Email address: david.nofziger@okstate.edu