Palestine Formation



Type designation:

Type locality: The Palestine Formation was named by Stuart Weller (1913, p. 128-129) for exposures of thick-bedded sandstone; thin-bedded, ripple-marked sandstone; and sandy shale, 75 ft (23 m) in total thickness, in Palestine Township, Randolph County, Illinois (Gray, 1970; Gray, 1986).

History of usage:

Use of name in Illinois: Weller, (1920, p. 209) later changed the name to Palestine Sandstone. This formation, a unit in the standard Chesterian section (Swann, 1963, p. 39-40), is now understood to include much shale and siltstone, although it is dominated by complex lenticular sandstone bodies (Atherton and others, 1975, p. 161; Gray, 1986).

History of name and description in Indiana: In his original study of outcropping upper Chesterian rocks in Indiana, Malott (1925) named a thin sandstone unit the Bristow Sandstone (Gray, 1986). A general equivalence of this unit to the Palestine Sandstone of Illinois was soon recognized (Malott, 193l, p. 222), and in an expanded sense that name came into use, replacing the name "Bristow" (Malott and Esarey, 1940; Malott, Esarey, and Bieberman, 1948; Gray, 1986). The lithologic character and the nature of the boundaries of this larger unit were never made clear, however, and in a restudy of outcropping upper Chesterian rocks, Gray (1978) concluded that a return to Malott's original concept and name was advisable for surface use (Gray, 1986). Gray (1986) applied the name “Palestine Sandstone” to a somewhat indefinite unit of shale and sandstone that overlies the Menard Limestone and is overlain by the Clore Limestone. He restricted the use of the name to the subsurface in Indiana. For Indiana usage, Gray (1986) assigned the Palestine Sandstone to the Buffalo Wallow Group. Because the amount of sandstone in the unit ranges from zero to as much as 60 percent, Droste and Keller (1995) adopted the name “Palestine Formation” for use in the subsurface of Indiana.


The shales in the Palestine Formation are mainly medium to dark gray and are characteristically silty and sandy (Droste and Keller, 1995). Thin lenses of siltstone and very fine grained sandstone are interbedded in the shale (Droste and Keller, 1995). Droste and Keller (1995) noted that fragments of carbonaceous matter are found in the shales and sandstones of the Palestine Formation and are more common in the Palestine than in any other unit in the Buffalo Wallow Group.

Very fine grained and very light gray and medium-gray sandstones are in lenses a few feet to as much as 40 ft thick (Droste and Keller, 1995). They noted that in a few small areas in Posey County the unit reaches thicknesses of more than 60 ft. A few lenses of light-gray, medium-gray, and light-grayish-brown limestone as much as 5 ft thick are also present (Droste and Keller, 1995).

Distribution: The Palestine Formation is present in southwestern Indiana (Droste and Keller, 1995, fig. 11).


Droste and Keller (1995) noted that the upper and lower contacts of the formation are conformable except where the Palestine is truncated by the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian unconformity.

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: Buffalo Wallow Group
Formation: Palestine Formation

Misc/Abandoned Names:


Geologic Map Unit Designation:


Note: Hansen (1991, p. 52) in Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey noted that letter symbols for map units are considered to be unique to each geologic map and that adjacent maps do not necessarily need to use the same symbols for the same map unit. Therefore, map unit abbreviations in the Indiana Geologic Names Information System should be regarded simply as recommendations.

COSUNA areas and regional terminology

Names for geologic units vary across Indiana. The Midwestern Basin and Arches Region COSUNA chart (Shaver, 1984) was developed to strategically document such variations in terminology. The geologic map (below left) is derived from this chart and provides an index to the five defined COSUNA regions in Indiana. The regions are generally based on regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana. (Click the maps below to view more detailed maps of COSUNA regions and major structural features in Indiana.)

Map showing the COSUNA areas (heavy black line) that approximate regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana, and the COSUNA numbers (large bold font) for these areas. The COSUNA boundaries are limited to state and county boundaries that facilitate coding.

COSUNA areas and numbers that approximate regional bedrock outcrop patterns and major structural features in Indiana.

Map showing major tectonic features that affect bedrock geology in Indiana.

Major tectonic features that affect bedrock geology in Indiana.

See also:

Bristow Sandstone Member


Atherton, Elwood, Collinson, Charles, and Lineback, J. A., 1975, Mississippian System, in Willman, H. B., Atherton, Elwood, Buschbach, T. C., Collinson, Charles, Frye, J. C., Hopkins, M. E., Lineback, J. A., and Simon, J. A., Handbook of Illinois stratigraphy: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 95, p. 123-163.

Droste, J. B., and Keller, S. J., 1995, Subsurface stratigraphy and distribution of oil fields of the Buffalo Wallow Group (Mississippian) in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 63, 24 p.

Gray, H. H., 1970, Palestine Sandstone, in Shaver, R. H., Burger, A. M., Gates, G. R., Gray, H. H., Hutchison, H. C., Keller, S. J., Patton, J. B., Rexroad, C. B., Smith, N. M., Wayne, W. J., and Wier, C. E., Compendium of rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 43, p. 124-125.

Gray, H. H., 1978, Buffalo Wallow Group upper Chesterian (Mississippian) of southern Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Occasional Paper 25, 28 p.

Gray, H. H., 1986, Palestine Sandstone, in Shaver, R. H., Ault, C. H., Burger, A. M., Carr, D. D., Droste, J. B., Eggert, D. L., Gray, H. H., Harper, Denver, Hasenmueller, N. R., Hasenmueller, W. A., Horowitz, A. S., Hutchison, H. C., Keith, B. D., Keller, S. J., Patton, J. B., Rexroad, C. B., and Wier, C. E., Compendium of Paleozoic rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana–a revision: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 59, p. 107-108.

Hansen, W. R., 1991, Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey (7th ed.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Geological Survey, 289 p.

Malott, C. A., 1925, The upper Chester of Indiana: Indiana Academy of Science Proceedings, v. 34, p. 103-132.

Malott, C. A., 1931, Geologic structure in the Indian and Trinity Springs locality, Martin County, Indiana: Indiana Academy of Science Proceedings, v. 40, p. 217-231.

Malott, C. A., and Esarey, R. E., 1940, Outcrop of the Chester Series of southern Indiana: Indiana-Kentucky Geological Society, May 18, 1940, 9 p. [mimeo.].

Malott, C. A., Esarey, R. E., and Bieberman, D. F., 1948, Upper and Middle Mississippian formations of southern Indiana: Indiana Division of Geology Field Conference Guidebook 2, 27 p.

Shaver, R. H., coordinator, 1984, Midwestern basin and arches region–correlation of stratigraphic units in North America (COSUNA): American Association of Petroleum Geologists Correlation Chart Series.

Swann, D. H., 1963, Classification of Genevievian and Chesterian (Late Mississippian) rocks of Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Report of Investigations 216, 91 p.

Weller, Stuart, 1913, Stratigraphy of the Chester Group in southwestern Illinois: Illinois State Academy of Science Transactions, v. 6, p. 118-129.

Weller, Stuart, 1920, The geology of Hardin County and the adjoining part of Pope County: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 41, 416 p.

For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: March 29, 2017

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