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The Southland Plateau is a large mountainous highland in the central part of Southland. It comprises most of the state. The highest part of the area is called the Lawrence Mountains. The multitude of rivers and lakes in the entire region is caused by the watersheds of the area being so young and in a state of sorting themselves out with the added effect of post-glacial rebound. It is filled with substantial deposits of nickel, gold, silver, and copper.

The current surface expression of the Shield is one of very thin soil lying on top of the bedrock, with many bare outcrops. This arrangement was caused by severe glaciation during the ice age, which covered the Shield and scraped the rock clean. The area isn't very densely forested due to lack of fertile soil, although around the volcanic mountains surrounding the Huquahí Valley and the Tobíeraq Depression there are dense pine forests as a result of volcanic eruptions that made the surface very fertile and covered it with a deep layer of ash.

Lakes in the area include Lake Maria, Interior Lake, Lake Robson, Stanton Lake, Lake Boóherinua, Lake Fielding and Lake Walter.

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