IGNIS
Bethel Formation

Age:

Mississippian

Type designation:

Type locality: The name “Bethel Sandstone” was first used by Butts (1917, p. 63-64) in describing exposures of thick-bedded coarse-grained sandstone and slabby sandstone 10 to 40 ft (3 to 12 m) thick in the vicinity of Bethel School, near Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky (Gray, 1970, 1986).

History of usage:

Miscorrelation: When first recognized in Indiana, this unit was identified (Malott, 1919, p. 9) with the Sample Sandstone Member of the Gasper Oolite (Limestone) of Butts (1917, p. 70-73) (Gray, 1970, 1986).

Renamed: The formation was later proved to be somewhat older and it was given the name “Mooretown Sandstone” for a village in Lawrence County, Indiana (Cumings, 1922, p. 515; Gray, 1970, 1986).

Renamed: The Bethel identification was established by Swann and Atherton (1948), and the name “Bethel Formation” was used to replace the term “Mooretown Sandstone” in Indiana (McGregor and others, 1957, p. 6).

Revised assignment: The Bethel Formation was assigned to West Baden Group by Gray and others (1960, p. 44).

Description:

In Indiana the Bethel Formation includes gray, clayey shale, ripple-bedded fine-grained sandstone, thin beds of coal, and in places underclay and nonstratified sandstone that contain abundant rootlet compressions (Gray, 1986). It ranges from 1 to 42 ft (0.3 to 13 m) in thickness (Sullivan, 1972, p. 14), and on the outcrop it generally forms covered slopes (Gray, 1986).

Distribution: The formation crops out from Putnam County southward to the Ohio River and can he recognized in the subsurface from Parke County southwestward (Gray, 1970, 1986). In a narrow linear area nearly 120 miles (200 km) long and mostly in the subsurface, the Beaver Bend Limestone is depositionally missing (Sullivan, 1972, p. 12-13) and the top of the Bethel Formation cannot be determined (Gray, 1986). This area is called the “West Baden clastic belt” (Gray, 1986).

Boundaries:

Over most of this area the Bethel Formation conformably overlies the Paoli Limestone (Gray and others, 1960). The Bethel Formation is overlain conformably by the Beaver Bend Limestone or disconformably by the Mansfield Formation (Morrowan) (Gray, 1970). Where the West Baden clastic belt reaches the outcrop in Greene and Owen Counties, several sections described by Malott (1952, p. 45-49) show clastic rocks of the West Baden Group resting disconformably on the Ste. Genevieve Limestone (Gray, 1986). In different areas, therefore, the same horizon, the base of the Bethel Formation and the base of the West Baden Group, is conformable where the Bethel can be recognized as a discrete formation and disconformable where it cannot (Gray, 1986).

Correlations:

Rocks that were formerly referred to the middle part of the Paint Creek Formation in the Illinois standard section are now assigned to the Bethel Formation, and use of the name “Paint Creek” (with group rank) is restricted to western Illinois (Atherton and others, 1975, p. 153-154; Gray, 1986). The name “Mooretown” remains in use for equivalent strata in Kentucky (Gray, 1986).

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: West Baden Group
Formation: Bethel Formation
Illinois Basin Margin (COSUNA 12)
Supergroup: none
Group: West Baden Group
Formation: Bethel Formation
Cincinnati Arch (COSUNA 13)
Supergroup: none
Group: West Baden Group
Formation: Bethel Formation

Misc/Abandoned Names:

Mooretown Sandstone, Ohio River Formation, Sample Sandstone Member

Geologic Map Unit Designation:

Mbl

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.

References:

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.

Butts, Charles, 1917, Mississippian formations of western Kentucky: Descriptions and correlations of the Mississippian formations of western Kentucky: Kentucky Geological Survey, ser. 4, v. 5, pt. 1, 119 p.

Cumings, E. R., 1922, Nomenclature and description of the geological formations of Indiana, in Logan, W. N., Cumings, E. R., Malott, C. A., Visher, S. S., Tucker, W. M., Reeves, J. R., and Legge, H. W., Handbook of Indiana geology: Indiana Department of Conservation Publications 21, pt. 4, p. 403-570.

Gray, H. H., 1970, Bethel Formation, 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. 12-14.

Gray, H. H., 1986, Bethel Formation, 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. 12-13.

Gray, H. H., Jenkins, R. D., and Weidman, R. M., 1960, Geology of the Huron area, south-central Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 20, 78 p.

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., 1919, The "American Bottoms" region of eastern Greene County, Indiana–a type unit in southern Indiana physiography: Indiana University Studies, v. 6, no. 40, 61 p.

Malott, C. A., 1952, Stratigraphy of the Ste. Genevieve and Chester formations of southern Indiana: Ann Arbor, Michigan, Edwards Letter Shop, 105 p.

McGregor, D. J., Perry, T. G., and Wayne, W. J., 1957, Introduction, in Gray, H. H., Dawson, T. A., McGregor, D. J., Perry, T. G., and Wayne, W. J., Rocks associated with the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian unconformity in southwestern Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Field Conference Guidebook 9, p. 5-8.

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.

Sullivan, D. M., 1972, Subsurface stratigraphy of the West Baden Group in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 47, 31 p.

Swann, D. H., and Atherton, Elwood, 1948, Subsurface correlations of lower Chester strata of the Eastern Interior Basin: Journal of Geology, v. 56, p. 269-287.



For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: March 15, 2016

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