Jeffersonville Limestone



Type designation:

Type locality: Named by Kindle (1899, p. 8) for Jeffersonville, Clark County, Indiana, where the formation is well exposed during low-water stages at the Falls of the Ohio.

Reference sections:

(1) Meshberger Stone Co. quarry, Bartholomew County (SE¼SE¼NE¼ sec. 6, T. 8 N., R. 7 E.) (Elizabeth quadrangle) (Burger and Patton, 1970, p. 77).

(2) Berry Materials quarrylater, the Hanson Aggregates Midwest Region North Vernon Quarry) at North Vernon, Jennings County (SW¼SW¼SE¼ sec. 27, T. 7 N., R. 8 E.) (Butlerville quadrangle) (Burger and Patton, 1970, p. 77).

(3) T. J. Atkins and Co. quarry near Claysburg, Clark County (W½ Clark Military Grant 10) (Jeffersonville quadrangle) (Burger and Patton, 1970, p. 77).

Note: Droste and Shaver (1975) assigned the Geneva Dolomite a member status in the Jeffersonville Limestone. They (1986) note that the Geneva assignment affects the Jeffersonville reference sections in the first two quarries noted above, as the Geneva is developed in its typical lithology in those two quarries but not in the third quarry. (See, for example, the section in the Berry Materials quarry that was described by Droste and Shaver, 1975, p. 405.)

History of usage:

Overview: The descriptive term “Corniferous Limestone” was used by Borden in 1874 for Jeffersonville rocks, but "Corniferous" has also been used in Indiana to refer to the entire Muscatatuck Group (Middle Devonian) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The term "Corniferous" in both senses has been abandoned (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

From the time of earliest naming of the Jeffersonville Limestone and the Geneva Dolomite, stratigraphers have disagreed on their age relations (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Subsurface and other studies of the 1960s and 1970s, however, have favored the idea of intimate relationships between typical Jeffersonville and Geneva rocks and between typical Jeffersonville and subsurface rocks in Illinois that had been called the Dutch Creek Sandstone (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Therefore, the Dutch Creek was assigned member status in the basal Jeffersonville (Becker, 1974, p. 38), and the Geneva was assigned the same status in a similar but not identical basal Jeffersonville position (Droste and Shaver, 1975, p. 403-404; Droste and Shaver, 1986). Droste and Shaver (1975, p. 404-406) also named the Vernon Fork Member for nontypical Jeffersonville beds that had been known by a variety of descriptive names, including "laminated beds."

With these nomenclatural and definitive changes, the Jeffersonville is considered by Droste and Shaver (1986) to consist of, in generally ascending order, the Dutch Creek Sandstone, Geneva Dolomite, and Vernon Fork Members; also, it consists of rocks unnamed to member, so that in any one place one or more parts of this four-part circumstance may apply.


Many geologists and lay persons have provided accounts of the Jeffersonville at the Falls of the Ohio (that is, at the type locality) especially because of the prolific corals and the remarkable fossil community that they and other fossils represent (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The rocks here have generally been described in terms of three to six biozones (for example, Burger and Patton, 1970, p. 77, three zones; Powell, 1970, four zones; and Oliver, 1976, p. 19, six zones) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). In Perkins's (1963) terms the type Jeffersonville consists in ascending order of (1) mostly brown coarse-grained medium- to thick-bedded, highly fossiliferous limestone and dolomitic limestone (Coral Zone =? Lower and Upper Coral Zones of Oliver, 1968), (2) variably colored coarse-grained medium-bedded stromatoporoidal limestone (Amphipora Zone), (3) variably colored dense to medium-grained cherty hard fossiliferous limestone (Brevispirifer gregarious Zone), and (4 and 5) light-colored thin-bedded to massive granular cherty fossiliferous limestone (Bryozoan-Brachiopod Zone below and Paraspirifer acuminates Zone above) (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Although Perkins (1963), Droste and Shaver (1975), and Oliver (1976) were able to trace or correlate some of the biozones several tens of miles along the outcrop area northward from the Falls of the Ohio, the rocks of these zones also grade northward into finer grained rocks that are termed pellsparites and mud-supported pelmicrites and biomicrites (Droste and Shaver, 1975, p. 402; Droste and Shaver, 1986). These lithologies refer to the descriptive terms laminated beds, chalk beds, and fine-grained dolostone beds of common use in the literature. In much of western central Indiana these rocks include rounded frosted quartz sand grains within the dolomite matrices (Becker, 1974, p. 35, fig. 17) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Where present, the Geneva exhibits brown and tan fine- to medium-grained, somewhat massive, finely vuggy dolostone that has different relationships with the Falls-area biozones at different places of observation (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

All these circumstances permit conceptualization of the Jeffersonville in two principal facies, a southern, or classic, facies and a west-central Indiana facies (Droste and Shaver, 1975, p. 401; Droste and Shaver, 1986). In the southern, classic facies, however, the biozones developed at the Falls are hardly recognizable in the subsurface, and in 12 southwestern Indiana counties this facies is modified by the Dutch Creek Sandstone Member (Becker, 1974, fig. 19; Droste and Shaver, 1986).

The Geneva and Vernon Fork lithologies dominate the west-central facies, but even here tongues of the classic facies are present in some places, for example, the Paraspirifer acuminates Zone (Droste and Shaver, 1986). Also, a bed of silicified corals and stromatoporoids is found in eastern and northern Jennings County (Droste and Shaver, 1986). This bed was called "burrstone" by Owen (1839, p. 16), "Buhrstone bed" by Kindle (1901, p. 558), and "silicified bed" by Dawson (1941, p. 19-20) (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Distribution: By definition in relation to Detroit River rocks in Indiana, the Jeffersonville is restricted to the southwestern and western flanks of the Kankakee and Cincinnati Arches and to the Illinois Basin (Droste and Shaver, 1986). It ranges in thickness from an erosional edge in all updip locales to more than 200 ft (61 m) in far southwestern Indiana (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The greater thickness, therefore, refers to the southern facies, and the thickest part of the west-central facies is about 140 ft (43 m) thick (Droste and Shaver, 1975, figs. 6 and 7; Droste and Shaver, 1986).


The Jeffersonville overlies the New Harmony Group (Lower Devonian) both conformably and unconformably in the far southwestern Indiana counties, and elsewhere in its Indiana distribution it unconformably overlies Lower to Upper Silurian rocks ranging stratigraphically from the Salamonie Dolomite (Laurel Member) upward to the upper part of the Wabash Formation (Droste and Shaver, 1986). This is an erosionally truncating relationship, the amount of truncation increasing eastward from the Illinois Basin and southeastward along the area of outcrop (Droste and Shaver, 1986). The Jeffersonville is overlain by the North Vernon Limestone, possibly everywhere unconformably (Droste and Shaver, 1986).


The Jeffersonville has traditionally been correlated with the Onondaga Formation (Erian) of New York on the basis of its macrofossils (Droste and Shaver, 1986). During more recent time, correlation has been facilitated by many studies of Middle Devonian conodonts in North America and Europe and by widespread recognition of the Tioga Bentonite Bed (Droste and Shaver, 1986). A lower, non-Geneva part of the Jeffersonville was assigned to the Icriodus latericrescens robustus Zone before Dutch Creek and Geneva rocks were added to the Jeffersonville, whereas upper Jeffersonville rocks were assigned to the Icriodus augustus Zone (Droste and Shaver, 1986). This zone extends stratigraphically upward to include lower North Vernon rocks (Droste and Shaver, 1986). (See Orr, 1971, p. 16-17, for these conodont-zonal assignments.) These determinations show that the Jeffersonville is largely Eifelian (global standard) in age, and a lower part is probably as old as late Emsian, a possibility that is also suggested from the work of Conkin and Conkin (1979, p. 14), Wright (1980, p. 5-7), and Sparling (1983, fig. 9) (Droste and Shaver, 1986). (See also Rickard, 1975, pl. 3; Oliver, 1976; Klapper and Ziegler, 1979; and Shaver, 1984.) Close to approximate correlatives of the Indiana Jeffersonville include the Grand Tower Limestone, southern Illinois; the Detroit River Formation, northern Indiana and western Ohio; the Lucas Formation and possibly the upper parts of the Amherstburg Formation and the Sylvania Sandstone, southern Michigan; the Columbus Limestone and the lower part of the Dundee Limestone, central to northwestern Ohio; the Onondaga Formation, New York; and the Jeffersonville Limestone, western Kentucky (Droste and Shaver, 1986).

Regional Indiana usage:

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

Misc/Abandoned Names:

Corniferous Limestone

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:

Detroit River Formation


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

Borden, W. W., 1874, Report of a geological survey of Clark and Floyd Counties, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Annual Report 5, p. 133-189.

Burger, A. M., and Patton, J. B., 1970, Jeffersonville 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. 77-79.

Conkin, J. E., and Conkin, B. M., 1979, Selected glossary of eastern North American Devonian stratigraphy, pyroclastics, bone beds, disconformities, and correlation: Louisville, Ky., University of Louisville Studies in Paleontology and Stratigraphy 9, 32 p.

Dawson, T. A., 1941, Outcrop in southern Indiana, pt. 1 of The Devonian formations of Indiana: Indiana Division of Geology, 48 p.

Droste, J. B., and Shaver, R. H., 1975, The Jeffersonville Limestone (Middle Devonian) of Indiana—stratigraphy, sedimentation, and relation to Silurian reef-bearing rocks: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 59, p. 393-412.

Droste, J. B., and Shaver, R. H., 1986, Jeffersonville 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. 64-66.

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.

Kindle, E. M., 1901, The Devonian fossils and stratigraphy of Indiana: Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Annual Report 25, p. 529-758.

Klapper, Gilbert, and Ziegler, Willi, 1979, Devonian conodont biostratigraphy, in House, M. R., Scrutton, C. T., and Bassett, M. G., eds., The Devonian System: Palaeontological Association Special Papers in Paleontology 23, p. 199-224.

Oliver, W. A., Jr., 1976, Noncystimorph colonial rugose corals of the Onesquethaw and lower Cazenovia Stages (Lower and Middle Devonian) in New York and adjacent areas: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 869, 156 p.

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

Owen, D. D., 1839, Second report of a geological survey of Indiana, made in the year 1838, in conformity to an order of the legislature: Indiana Senate Journal for 1838-39, p. 198-241: Indianapolis, Osborn and Willets, 54 p.

Perkins, R. D., 1963, Petrology of the Jeffersonville Limestone (Middle Devonian) of southeastern Indiana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 74, p. 1,335-1,354.

Powell, R. L., 1970, Geology of the Falls of the Ohio River: Indiana Geological Survey Circular 10, 45 p.

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.

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.

Sparling, D. R., 1983, Conodont biostratigraphy and biofacies of lower Middle Devonian limestones, north-central Ohio: Journal of Paleontology, v. 57, p. 825-864.

Wright, R. P., 1980, Middle Devonian Chitinozoa of Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Special Report 18, 24 p.

For additional information contact:

Nancy Hasenmueller (hasenmue@indiana.edu)
Date last revised: October 25, 2017

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