Faculty Research at Morehead State University

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Silurian rocks in Kentucky are exposed on the eastern and western flanks of the Cincinnati Arch, a large-wavelength cratonic structure separating the Appalachian foreland basin from the intracratonic Illinois Basin. The Cincinnati Arch area experienced uplift during latest Ordovician-early Silurian time, so that the exposed Silurian section is relatively thin due to onlap and post-Silurian erosional truncation on the arch. On both flanks of the arch, dolomitic carbonates predominate, but the section on the eastern side reflects a more shale-rich ramp that faced eastern Appalachian source areas. In the Silurian section on the western side of the arch, which apparently developed across a platform-like isolation-accommodation zone, shales are rare except during some highstand episodes, and rocks in the area reflect deposition across a broad, low-gradient shelf area, interrupted by structurally controlled topographic breaks. Using the progression of interpreted depositional environments and nearshore faunal communities, a relative sea-level curve, which parallels those of previous workers, was generated for the section in Kentucky. While the curve clearly shows the influence of glacial eustasy, distinct indications of the far-field, flexural influence of Taconian and Salinic tectonism are also present. In fact, at times, regional tectonic subsidence seems to have overwhelmed the effects of glacio-eustasy. Regional angular truncations in the section, as well as overlying bentonitic shales and a dysaerobic fauna in the deepest-water part of the section (Estill Shale), are best explained in terms of far-field tectonic subsidence accompanying the first tectophase of the Salinic Orogeny in the Appalachian area.



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