Pittsburgh Low Plateau Section
Appalachian Plateaus Province

Pittsburgh Low Plateau Section showing geology and shaded relief


The Pittsburgh Low Plateau Section consists of a smooth undulating upland surface cut by numerous, narrow, relatively shallow valleys. The uplands are developed on rocks containing the bulk of the significant bituminous coal in Pennsylvania. The landscape reflects this by the presence of some operating surface mines, many old stripping areas, and many reclaimed stripping areas. The local relief on the uplands is generally less than 200 feet. Local relief between valley bottoms and upland surfaces may be as much as 600 feet. Valley sides are usually moderately steep except in the upper reaches of streams where the side slopes are fairly gentle. Elevations range from 660 to 1,700 feet. Some of the land surface in the southwestern part of the Section is very susceptible to landslides.

The Section covers much of western and southwestern Pennsylvania. It includes all of Greene, Washington, and Armstrong Counties, most of Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Westmoreland, and Indiana Counties, and parts of Lawrence, Venango, Elk, Cambria, and Fayette Counties.

Some roads along which the character of this Section can be seen are: Interstate 80 from the eastern boundary of Clearfield County to the eastern boundary of Mercer County; Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) from west of Donegal to New Beaver; US Routes 422 from Indiana to Lawrence County and 119 from DuBois to West Virginia; and Pennsylvania Route 119 from Pittsburgh to Brockway. Other good routes are: US Routes 22, 219, and 322 and Pennsylvania Routes 19 and 36.

Outstanding Geological Scenic Features are: Alpha Falls, Alum Rock, Big Knob, Bilger Rocks, Bradys Bend, Cold Valley, Crooked Creek, Dividing Ridge, Homewood Falls, Lake Arthur, Rea Block Field, Rocks at Curwensville Lake, and Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Located at Slippery Rock Creek Gorge are: Spillway Falls, Muddy Creek Falls, and Slippery Rock.

State Parks in the Section include Jennings, Raccoon Creek, Keystone, McConnells Mill, Moraine, and Prince Gallitzin.

Also see our "Trail of Geology" guide for McConnells Mills and Moraine state parks.

There are no State Forest Natural Areas or Picnic Areas in the Section.