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The Westfield of Consolidation Coal Company's Burning Star Mine# 5 is located in northeastern Jackson County, Illinois. It lies within but near the southern terminus of the Mt. Vernon Hill Country of the Southern Till Plains Division and is characterized by mature topography and low relief; elevations ranges from about 108m ASL along the banks of the Little Muddy River, the principal stream draining the study area, to 120m ASL on adjacent uplands. The northern limits of the Greater Shawnee Hills Section of the Shawnee Hills Division lie about 20 km to the south, where the gently rolling hills and broad alluvial floodplain of the Big Muddy River, to which the Little Muddy is tributary, abruptly give way to the more strikingly elevated and heavily dissected Shawnee Hills (Schwegman 1975).