IGNIS
North Vernon Limestone

Age:

Devonian

Type designation:

Type locality: The North Vernon Limestone was named by Borden (1876, p. 148, 160) for North Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana, where blue and gray limestone was exposed below the New Albany Shale and above the Jeffersonville Limestone (then called the "Corniferous Limestone") in quarry exposures (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Reference sections: The three following reference sections were designated by Burger and Patton (1970, p. 120).

(1) Scott County Stone Co. quarry near Scottsburg, Indiana, (center N½ sec. 20, T. 3 N., R. 8 E.), about 19 ft (5.8 m) of the formation is exposed.

(2) Louisville Cement Co. quarry 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast of Speed, Clark County, Indiana, (Clark Military Grants 131 and 132), about 21 ft (6.4 m) is exposed.

(3) Sellersburg Stone Co., Inc., quarry at Sellersburg, Clark County, Indiana, (Clark Military Grant 90), about 21 ft (6.4 m) is exposed.

History of usage:

Although Borden (1876) related type North Vernon rocks to what was then called the Hydraulic Limestone (now the Silver Creek Member) in the Clark County area, much confusion in nomenclature has attended studies of the North Vernon and equivalent rocks in Indiana and Kentucky (Droste and Shaver, 1986). In 1899 the name "Sellersburg Beds" was given by Kindle (p. 8, 23, and 110) to nearly the same section that was named by Borden, that is, to the limestones directly underlying the New Albany Shale and extending down to the lowest beds mined in the cement quarries of Clark County (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The New York term “Hamilton Group” was also used for these Indiana rocks at about this same time, for example, by Blatchley and Ashley (1898, p. 19) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Siebenthal (1901, p. 345-346) named the Cement Rock the Silver Creek Hydraulic Limestone and restricted the Sellersburg to bioclastic rocks that lie above the Hydraulic Limestone and that had been called the Crinoidal (Encrinital, Encrinai) Limestone (presently the Beechwood Member of the North Vernon) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Butts (1915, p. 120) later restored the original definition of the Sellersburg and named the upper crinoidal beds the Beechwood Limestone Member and the lower beds the Silver Creek Limestone Member (Droste and Shaver, 1986). As recorded by Wilmarth (1938, p. 1,952), Butts's scheme was adopted by the U.S. Geological Survey (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

In this same period, however, additional facies (mostly faunal) of North Vernon (= Sellersburg) rocks were studied (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Among them are: the New Chapel Chert Bed, named by Whitlatch and Huddle (1932, p. 367) for a cherty interval in the upper part of the Silver Creek; the Speeds Member of the Sellersburg (= North Vernon) as named by Sutton and Sutton (1937, p. 326) for shaly fossiliferous (identified as Hamilton fossils) limestone exposed below the cement beds in Clark County; and the Deputy and Swanville Formations as named by Campbell (1942) for faunal facies of already named units or combinations of units (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Campbell also changed the rank of the Speeds, the Silver Creek, and the Beechwood from member to formation (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Fossiliferous North Vernon rocks exposed in the upper Wabash Valley in northern Indiana are a matter of historical record of probably more than 120 years, but not by that name (Droste and Shaver, 1986). "Jeffersonville Limestone" was one of the names used along with these newer names: Logansport Limestone named by Cooper and Warthin (1941), Little Rock Creek Limestone named by Cooper (1941), and Miami Bend Formation named by Cooper and Phelan (1966) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Still later, Orr (1969) referred these same rocks in Cass and Carroll Counties to the Traverse Formation (corresponds to the North Vernon) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). [See Shaver and others, 1971, p. 52-53; Orr, 1971, p. 9; Thornbury and Deane, 1955, p. 18-19; and Doheny, Droste, and Shaver, 1975, p. 4-5, for summaries of the nomenclatural history of the North Vernon and related rocks in northern Indiana, including an assessment of the newer names as rather strictly described on faunal bases (Droste and Shaver, 1986)].

Since about 1960 the Indiana Geological Survey has taken a consistent stand (as recorded in Shaver and others, 1970) on use of the term “North Vernon Limestone” in place of the later published name “Sellersburg Limestone”; furthermore, since the 1970 mapping of Schneider and Keller, the term “North Vernon Limestone” has been applied to the appropriate rocks south of the structural crest in northern Indiana, whereas the term “Traverse Formation” has been used for the corresponding rocks north of the structural crest (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Moreover, the members, where recognizable, have been called the Speed and Silver Creek Members in the lower part and the Beechwood Member in the upper part, which in these exact spellings and combinations are slight variations from historical uses (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Nevertheless, in the modern period of study, James E. Conkin and associates have used in southern Indiana and adjacent Kentucky not only the names used by Droste and Shaver (1986) in southern Indiana but also all, or nearly all, the names of southern Indiana derivation not recommended by Droste and Shaver (1986) or by the Kentucky Geological Survey (Droste and Shaver, 1986). These uses include formation and group ranks not in accord with the ranks presented by Droste and Shaver (1986). [For example, see Conkin and Conkin, 1972, p. 15-16, and Conkin, Conkin, and Lipchinsky, 1976, fig. 10, and 1980, figs. 5 and 6, for the many names, for variations in ranks and surnames, and for a member, the Carey Member of the Beechwood Formation (and Limestone) not mentioned above (Droste and Shaver, 1986)].

Description:

Although basically a limestone, the North Vernon has many lateral and vertical facies (Droste and Shaver, 1986). In its type area and southward along outcrop the formation has been described in three parts (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Two lower parts consist variably of gray dense massive argillaceous dolomitic limestone called the Silver Creek Member (the Cement Beds of older literature) and of gray granular to shaly thin-bedded very fossiliferous limestone called the Speed Member (Droste and Shaver, 1986). These members are in facies relationship with one another (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The upper part, called the Beechwood Member, consists of gray and dark-gray medium-grained to very coarse grained thin- to thick-bedded crinoidal limestone containing glauconite and, in its basal part, black phosphate grains and pebbles (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

These lithologies are not identified as separate members far northward along the Devonian outcrop area or in the subsurface, however, where the formation now has widespread recognition (Droste and Shaver, 1986). [See Thornbury and Deane, 1955, p. 18-20; Shaver, 1974, p. 5; Becker, 1974, p. 42-43; and Doheny, Droste, and Shaver, 1975, p. 84-86 (Droste and Shaver, 1986).] In this northern area the North Vernon is generally light colored (tan, gray, white) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Granularity varies from very fine grained in dense, earthy, shaly, or argillaceous rocks, including some sublithographic limestone, to fine grained (calcisiltite), to very coarse grained (biocalcarenite) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Some tan limestones consist of very fine grained earthy, chalky matrix hosting coarser carbonate sand grains consisting of fossil fragments (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Chert, glauconite, and phosphate are fairly common but not simply in the stratigraphic order noted above for the classic southern Indiana outcrop area (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Dark-brown granular vuggy dolostone, as well as interbedded dark shale in the upper part of the formation, is present far northward. Many of these limestones are conspicuously fossiliferous (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Distribution: By complementary definition with the Traverse Formation as noted above, the North Vernon is limited in its Indiana distribution to the Devonian outcrop area southwest and west of the Kankakee and Cincinnati Arches and to the subsurface in the Illinois Basin (Droste and Shaver, 1986). In this distribution the formation ranges in thickness from an erosional zero to an average of about 25 ft (7.2 m) where uneroded near the outcrop and to 120 ft (37 m) or more in Posey County (Becker, 1974, fig. 22) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). In the area of Jasper County, northwestern Indiana, where upper rocks of the Muscatatuck extend physically across the Kankakee Arch in thicknesses of 20 to 25 ft (6.1 to 7.6 m), the North Vernon Limestone and the Traverse Formation may be considered as having a mutual vertical cutoff boundary (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Boundaries:

The North Vernon overlies unconformably both the Jeffersonville Limestone (Middle Devonian) and the Wabash Formation (Upper Silurian) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). It underlies the New Albany Shale both conformably and unconformably (Droste and Shaver, 1986). [See Shaver, 1984, for areas and magnitude of these changing relations (Droste and Shaver, 1986).]

Correlations:

On the basis of its many macrofossils, the North Vernon has been correlated approximately with the Hamilton Group (upper Middle Devonian) of New York for more than a hundred years (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The more recent conodont work reaffirms this correlation (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The upper part of the Silver Creek (lower North Vernon), as well as the Skaneateles Formation (upper lower Hamilton) of New York (see Rickard, 1975, pl. 3), is in the Icriodus latericrescens latericrescens Zone (early Givetian, global standard) (Orr and Pollock, 1968; Droste and Shaver, 1986). [See, however, the discussion under "Speed Member" for other opinion on age (Droste and Shaver, 1986).] The Beechwood (upper North Vernon), as well as the Ludlowville Formation of the lower upper Hamilton, lies in the Polygnathus varcus Zone (middle Givetian) (Orr, 1971, p. 17; Droste and Shaver, 1986; Sandberg, Hasenmueller, and Rexroad, 1994).

In the midwestern area the North Vernon correlates approximately or very closely with: the Lingle Formation, Illinois (see North, 1969); the Traverse Formation, northern Indiana; much of the section ranging from the Dundee Limestone through the Traverse Group (Limestone), Michigan; the section ranging possibly from the uppermost part of the Columbus Limestone through the Traverse Group (Formation), central to northwestern Ohio; and the Sellersburg Limestone, central Kentucky (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: Muscatatuck Group
Formation: North Vernon Limestone
Illinois Basin Margin (COSUNA 12)
Supergroup: none
Group: Muscatatuck Group
Formation: North Vernon Limestone
Cincinnati Arch (COSUNA 13)
Supergroup: none
Group: Muscatatuck Group
Formation: North Vernon Limestone
Kankakee Arch (COSUNA 14)
Supergroup: none
Group: Muscatatuck Group
Formation: North Vernon Limestone

Misc/Abandoned Names:

Hamilton Group, Hydraulic Limestone, Jeffersonville Limestone, Little Rock Creek Limestone, Logansport Limestone, Miami Bend Formation, Sellersburg Beds/Limestone

Geologic Map Unit Designation:

Dnv

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:

Becker, L. E., 1974, Silurian and Devonian rocks in Indiana southwest of the Cincinnati Arch: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 50, 83 p.

Blatchley, W. S., and Ashley, G. H., 1898, Geological scale of Indiana: Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Annual Report 22, p. 16-24.

Borden, W. W., 1876, Jennings County: Indiana Geological Survey Annual Report 7, p. 146-180.

Burger, A. M., and Patton, J. B., 1970, North Vernon Limestone, 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. 120-122.

Butts, Charles, 1915, Geology and mineral resources of Jefferson County, Kentucky: Kentucky Geological Survey, ser. 4, v. 3, pt. 2, 270 p.

Campbell, Guy, 1942, Middle Devonian stratigraphy of Indiana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 53, p. 1,055-1,071.

Conkin, J. E., and Conkin, B. M., 1972, Guide to the rocks and fossils of Jefferson County, Kentucky, southern Indiana, and adjacent areas: Louisville, Ky., University of Louisville Reproduction Services, 331 p.

Conkin, J. E., Conkin, B. M., and Lipchinsky, L. Z., 1976, Middle Devonian (Hamiltonian) stratigraphy and bone beds on the east side of the Cincinnati Arch in Kentucky Pt. 2, The Kidds Store Section, Casey County: Louisville, Ky., University of Louisville Studies in Paleontology and Stratigraphy 6, 33 p.

Conkin, J. E., Conkin, B. M., and Lipchinsky, L. Z., 1980, Devonian black shale in the eastern United States—Pt. 1, Southern Indiana, Kentucky, northern and eastern Highland Rim of Tennessee, and central Ohio: Louisville, Ky., University of Louisville Studies in Paleontology and Stratigraphy 12, 63 p.

Cooper, G. A., 1941, New Devonian stratigraphic units: Washington Academy of Sciences Journal, v. 31, p. 179-181.

Cooper, G. A., and Phelan, Thomas, 1966, Stringocephalus in the Devonian of Indiana: Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, v. 151, no. 1, 20 p.

Cooper, G. A., and Warthin, A. S., Jr., 1941, New Middle Devonian stratigraphic names: Washington Academy of Sciences Journal, v. 31, p. 259-260.

Doheny, E. J., Droste, J. B., and Shaver, R. H., 1975, Stratigraphy of the Detroit River Formation (Middle Devonian) of northern Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 53, 86 p.

Droste, J. B., and Shaver, R. H., 1986, North Vernon Limestone, 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. 103-105.

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.

Kindle, E. M., 1899, The Devonian and Lower Carboniferous faunas of southern Indiana and central Kentucky: Bulletins of American Paleontology, v. 3, no. 12, 111 p.

North, W. G., 1969, The Middle Devonian strata of southern Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Circular 441, 48 p.

Orr, R. W., 1969, Stratigraphy and correlation of Middle Devonian strata in the Logansport Sag, north-central Indiana: Indiana Academy of Science Proceedings, v. 78, p. 333-341.

Orr, R. W., 1971, Conodonts from Middle Devonian strata of the Michigan Basin: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 45, 110 p.

Orr, R. W., and Pollock, C. A., 1968, Reference sections and correlation of Beechwood Member (North Vernon Limestone, Middle Devonian) of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 52, p. 2,257-2,262.

Rickard, L. V., 1975, Correlation of the Silurian and Devonian rocks in New York State: New York State Museum and Science Service Geological Survey Map and Chart Ser. 24, 16 p.

Sandberg, C. A., Hasenmueller, N. R., and Rexroad, C. B., 1994, Conodont biochronology, biostratigraphy, and biofacies of Upper Devonian part of New Albany Shale, Indiana: Courier-Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, v. 168, p. 227-253.

Schneider, A. F., and Keller, S. J., 1970, Geologic map of the 1° x 2° Chicago quadrangle, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, showing bedrock and unconsolidated deposits: Indiana Geological Survey Regional Geologic Map No. 4, Part A [bedrock units].

Shaver, R. H., 1974, The Muscatatuck Group (new Middle Devonian name) in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Occasional Paper 3, 7 p.

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., 1970, Compendium of rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 43, 229 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.

Shaver, R. H., Doheny, E. J., Droste, J. B., Lazor, J. D., Orr, R. W., Pollock, C. A., and Rexroad, C. B., 1971, Silurian and Middle Devonian stratigraphy of the Michigan Basin–a view from the southwest flank, in Forsyth, J. L., Geology of the Lake Erie islands and adjacent shores: Michigan Basin Geological Society Guidebook, p. 37-59.

Siebenthal, C. E., 1901, The Silver Creek Hydraulic Limestone of southeastern Indiana: Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Annual Report 25, p. 331-389.

Sutton, D. G., and Sutton, A. H., 1937, Middle Devonian of southern Indiana: Journal of Geology, v. 45, p. 320-331.

Thornbury, W. D., and Deane, H. L., 1955, The geology of Miami County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 8, 49 p.

Whitlatch, G. I., and Huddle, J. W., 1932, The stratigraphy and structure of a Devonian limestone area in Clark County, Indiana: Indiana Academy of Science Proceedings, v. 41, p. 363-390.

Wilmarth, M. G., 1938, Lexicon of geologic names of the United States (including Alaska): U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 896, 2,396 p.



For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: December 5, 2017

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