Surface geology of the Jeptha Knob cryptoexplosion structure, Shelby County, Kentucky

Professional Paper 1151-B




The Jeptha Knob crytoexplosion structure, described by Bucher in 1925, was remapped in 1973 as part of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Kentucky Geological Survey cooperative mapping program. The knob is in the western part of the Blue Grass region. Hilltops in the rolling farmland adjacent to the knob are underlain by the nearly flat-lying Grant Lake and Callaway Creek Limestones of middle Late Ordovician age, and the valleys are cut in interbedded limestone and shale of the Clays Ferry Formation of late Middle and early Late Ordovician age. Precambrian basement is estimated to be 4,000 ft below the surface. The mapped area is 50 miles west of the crest of the Cincinnati arch; the regional dip is westward 16 ft per mile. The 38th parallel lineament is 50 miles to the south. The structure, about 14,000 ft in diameter, consists of a central area 6,300 ft in diameter of uplifted Clays Ferry Formation surrounded by a belt of annular faults that are divided into segments by radial faults. The grass structure of the Clays Ferry Formation is that of a broad dame, but same evidence indicates that, in detail, the beds are complexly folded. The limestone of the Clays Ferry is brecciated and infiltrated by limonite. The brecciation is confined to single beds, and there is no mixing of fragments from different beds. A small plug of the Logana Member of the Lexington Limestone (Middle Ordovician) has been upfaulted at least 700 ft and emplaced within the Clays Ferry. The central uplift is separated by high-angle and, in places, reverse faults from the belt of annular faulting. The concentric faults in the zone of annular faults are extensional, and the general aspect is of collapse and inward movement. Lenses of breccia are present along many of the concentric faults, but not along the radial faults. At least same of the breccia was injected from below. The youngest beds involved in the faulting are in the Bardstown Member of the Drakes Formation of late Late Ordovician age. The faulted and brecciated beds are overlain by nearly horizontal dolomite and shale of Early and Middle Silurian age. The basal 5 ft of the oldest Silurian unit, the Brassfield Formation, contains calcarenite and calcirudite composed, in large part, of locally derived fragments from the Upper Ordovician formations. The Jeptha Knob structure was formed in latest Late Ordovician or earliest Early Silurian time. At the time of formation, the area was either very slightly above or very slightly below sea level; the sediments were already largely indurated. At the onset of Silurian deposition, the area of the central uplift was probably a broad shallow depression not more than about 15 ft deep, possibly surrounded by a rim of Upper Ordovician rocks or rock fragments. The origin of the Jeptha Knob structure cannot be determined from the available data. Shatter cones and coesite, considered by many to be definitive criteria far origin by impact, have not been found. On the other hand, geophysical studies indicate that there is no coincident uplift of the basement, and there is no certain relation of Jeptha Knob to any obvious structural trend.

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Surface geology of the Jeptha Knob cryptoexplosion structure, Shelby County, Kentucky
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Professional Paper
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U.S. G.P.O.,
B1-B16 p.; 1 plate in pocket