Type designation:

Type locality: The Beech Creek Limestone was named by Malott (1919, p. 11-15) for exposures along Beech Creek in Greene County, Indiana (Gray, 1970; Gray and Horowitz, 1986).

Type section: Malott (1952, p. 73-78) designated a type section for the Beech Creek Limestone at Rays Cave in sec. 13, T. 7 N., R. 4 W., Greene County, Indiana (Gray, 1970; Gray and Horowitz, 1986).


The Beech Creek Limestone is typically a gray skeletal to biomicritic limestone 8 to 33 ft (2 to 10 m) thick (Perry and Smith, 1958, pl. 1). The lower third of the formation is characteristically somewhat darker than the upper two-thirds (Gray and Horowitz, 1986). This lithologic contrast is thought to represent a transgressive-regressive depositional couple (Kissling, 1967, p. 168-169). Typical fossils include large crinoid columnals as much as 25 mm in diameter and a variety of brachiopods (Gray and Horowitz, 1986).

Distribution: The Beech Creek is recognized at the surface from Owen County southward to the Ohio River; in the subsurface, where it has sometimes been called the Barlow Lime, it is recognized from Clay County southwestward (Gray and Horowitz, 1986). Gray and Horowitz (1986) noted that the Beech Creek is the most widely recognized marker in the Chesterian Series.


The Beech Creek conformably overlies the West Baden Group (Droste and Keller, 1995) and is overlain conformably by the Big Clifty Formation or disconformably by the Mansfield Formation (Pennsylvanian) (Gray and Horowitz, 1986).


Subsurface information demonstrates the physical continuity of the Beech Creek Limestone of Indiana with the lower part of the Golconda Group in southwestern Illinois (Swann and Atherton, 1948); the name "Beech Creek" has been accepted into the standard Chesterian section (Rexroad and Jarrell, 1961, p. 2,014; Swann, 1963, p. 35-36; Atherton and others, 1975, p. 155-156; Gray and Horowitz, 1986).

The Beech Creek Limestone contains the first appearance of the brachiopod Coelidium explanatum (McChesney) and also several species of the blastoid genus Pentremites that exhibit depressed ambulacra (P. cervinius Hall, P. elegans Lyon, P. tulipaformis Hambach) (Gray and Horowitz, 1986). An upper sandy bed of the Beech Creek, recognized at several sites in Indiana by Kissling (1967), contains the distinctive wing plates of the crinoid Pterotocrinus capitalis (Lyon), which on the southwest side of the Illinois Basin is restricted to the Fraileys Shale (Gray and Horowitz, 1986). The Beech Creek corresponds to rocks within North American foraminiferal Zone 16s of Mamet and Skipp (1971) and within Zone V3cs of the type Visean sequence in Belgium (Gray and Horowitz, 1986). On the basis of contained conodonts, Collinson, Rexroad, and Thompson (1971) assigned the Beech Creek to the Gnathodus bilineatus-Cavusgnathus altus Assemblage Zone of North American usage.

Regional Indiana usage:

Illinois Basin (COSUNA 11)
Supergroup: none
Group: Stephensport Group
Formation: Beech Creek Limestone
Illinois Basin Margin (COSUNA 12)
Supergroup: none
Group: Stephensport Group
Formation: Beech Creek Limestone

Misc/Abandoned Names:

Barlow Lime

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.)

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

Major tectonic features that affect bedrock geology in Indiana.


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.

Collinson, Charles, Rexroad, C. B., and Thompson, T. L., 1971, Conodont zonation of the North American Mississippian: Geological Society of America Memoirs 127, p. 353-394.

Droste, J. B., and Keller, S. J., 1995, Subsurface stratigraphy and distribution of oil fields of the Stephensport Group (Mississippian) in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 64, 21 p.

Gray, H. H., and Horowitz, A. S., 1986, Beech Creek 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. 11.

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.

Kissling, D. L., 1967, Environmental history of lower Chesterian rocks in southwestern Indiana: Bloomington, Indiana University, Ph.D. thesis, 367 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.

Mamet, B. L., and Skipp, B. A., 1971, Lower Carboniferous calcareous Foraminifera–preliminary zonation and stratigraphic implications for the Mississippian of North America: Sixieme Congres International de Stratigraphie et de Geologie du Carbonifere Sheffield, 1967, Compte rendu, v. 3, p. 1,129-1,146.

Perry, T. G., and Smith, N. M., 1958, The Meramec-Chester and intra-Chester boundaries and associated strata in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Bulletin 12, 110 p.

Rexroad, C. B., and Jarrell, M. K., 1961, Correlation by conodonts of Golconda Group (Chesterian) in Illinois Basin: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 45, p. 2,012-2,017.

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.

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 (
Date last revised: November 23, 2016