Black shales previously interpreted to be Late Devonian cave-fill or slide deposits are shown to be much older Middle Devonian black shales only preserved locally in Middle Devonian grabens and structural lows in central Kentucky. This newly recognized - and older -black-shale unit occurs at the base of the New Albany Shale and is named the Carpenter Fork Bed of the Portwood Member of the New Albany Shale after its only known exposure on Carpenter Fork in Boyle County, central Kentucky; two other occurrences are known from core holes in east-central Kentucky. Based on stratigraphic position and conodont biostratigraphy, the unit is Middle Devonian (Givetian: probably Middle to Upper P. varcus Zone) in age and occurs at a position represented by an unconformity atop the Middle Devonian Boyle Dolostone and its equivalents elsewhere on the outcrop belt. Based on its presence as isolated clasts in the overlying Duffin Bed of the Portwood Member, the former distribution of the unit was probably much more widespread - perhaps occurring throughout western parts of the Rome trough. Carpenter Fork black shales apparently represent an episode of subsidence or sea-level rise coincident with inception of the third tectophase of the Acadian orogeny. Deposition, however, was soon interrupted by reactivation of several fault zones in central Kentucky, perhaps in response to bulge migration accompanying start of the tectophase. As a result, much of central Kentucky was uplifted and tilted, and the Carpenter Fork Bed was largely eroded from the top of the Boyle, except in a few structural lows like the Carpenter Fork graben where a nearly complete record of Middle to early Late Devonian deposition is preserved.
Additional Publication Details
The carpenter fork bed, a new - and older - Black-shale unit at the base of the New Albany shale in central Kentucky: Characterization and significance