Bristow Sandstone Member



Type designation:

Type area: The “Bristow shale and sandstone” was first referred to as a member of the upper Chester in Indiana by Logan (1924, p. 11). The information was drawn from an unpublished report by C. A. Malott on Perry County. Gray (1978, p. 12 and 16) designated the type section as being in the NE¼ sec. 23, T. 4 S., R. 3 W., Perry County (Bristow quadrangle).

Principal reference section: Indiana Geological Survey drill hole 132 (Indiana Geological Survey Petroleum Database Management System No. 125735), near Oriole (SW¼ sec. 10, T. 4 S., R. 1 W., Branchville quadrangle) in Perry County (Gray, 1978, appendix 2), was designated as a principal reference section by Gray in 1986.

History of usage:

Source of name: Malott (1925, p. 110) described the Bristow Sandstone and noted that the name proposed for the sandstone was from the village of Bristow in the valley of Middle Fork of Anderson Creek in Perry County, Indiana.

Revised rank: The name was applied in a formational sense, Bristow Sandstone, by Malott (1925, p. 110-112) (Gray, 1986).

Suppression of name: The name “Bristow Sandstone” was later suppressed in favor of the term "Palestine Sandstone" from the standard Chesterian section (Malott, 1931, p. 222; Gray, 1986). Malott's restricted usage as a single bed of sandstone, however, was at variance with standard usage, which includes much shale in the formation (Gray, 1986).

Reinstatement of name: Because of this variance and apparently insoluble boundary problems associated with the broader unit, Gray (1978, p. 12) recommended a return to Malott's original concept of the Bristow for outcrop usage (Gray, 1986).

Rank revision: Gray (1978, p. 12) also designated the Bristow as a member of the Tobinsport Formation of the Buffalo Wallow Group.


In most places the Bristow Sandstone Member is a single ledge that ranges from fine-grained ripple-bedded quartzose sandstone to thinly interstratified sandstone, siltstone, and shale (Gray, 1986). At Bristow, the member reaches its maximum known thickness of 15 ft (5 m) (Malott, 1925, p. 126; Gray, 1986). More commonly it is 2 to 12 ft (0.6 to 4 m) thick (Gray, 1978; Gray, 1986). It is 25 to 50 ft (8 to 15 m) above the base of the Tobinsport Formation and about 210 ft (64 m) above the top of the Glen Dean Limestone (Gray, 1978, p. 12; Gray, 1986).

Distribution: The Bristow forms a widely recognizable unit in Perry County, although it is absent from some areas and is not known outside that county (Gray, 1986).


The Bristow Sandstone Member falls within the limits of the Palestine Sandstone of the standard Chesterian section, but the internal stratigraphy of the Palestine is complex (Swann, 1963, p. 39-40; Atherton, Collinson, and Lineback, 1975, p. 161), and there is at present no way to determine the position of the Bristow member within that formation (Gray, 1986). The term "Bristow" has not been applied in the subsurface (Gray, 1986).

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: Buffalo Wallow Group
Formation: Tobinsport Formation
Member: Bristow Sandstone Member

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:

Palestine Formation


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.

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, Bristow Sandstone Member, 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. 22-23.

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.

Logan, W. N., 1924, Geological conditions in the oil fields of southwestern Indiana: Indiana Department of Conservation Publication 42, 125 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.

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.

For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: April 13, 2017

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