Eustatic and far-field tectonic control on the development of an intra-platform carbonate-shoal complex: upper tongue of the Tanglewood Member, Upper Ordovician Lexington Limestone, central Kentucky, U.S.A.

Dibya Raj Koirala, Frank R. Ettensohn, Marta L. Clepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Lexington or Trenton Limestone is an Upper Ordovician (Chatfieldian–Edenian; upper Sandbian–lower Katian), temperate-water unit, averaging about 60-m thick, that was deposited in relatively shallow waters across the Lexington Platform in east-central United States during the Taconian Orogeny. Lexington/Trenton shallow-water deposition ended across most of the platform in late Chatfieldian time and from that point deepened upward into the more shale-rich Clays Ferry, Point Pleasant and Kope formations due to apparent sea-level rise. In central Kentucky, however, deposition of the Lexington Limestone continued into early Edenian time and includes up to 50 m of additional coarse calcarenites and calcirudites at the top, which form the Tanglewood buildup and reflect locally regressive conditions, apparently related to local structural uplift. Consequently, in central Kentucky, the Lexington is more than 100-m thick, and Lexington deposition on the buildup continued into early Edenian time as an intra-platform shoal complex that tongues out into deeper-water units in all directions. In an attempt to understand how this shoal complex developed, we examined the last major body of coarse skeletal sands in the central Kentucky Lexington Limestone, the upper tongue of the Tanglewood Member, a 12-m-thick succession of fossiliferous calcarenite and calcirudite that occurs across an area of 5200 km2 near the center of the Lexington Platform. Although relatively homogeneous, the upper Tanglewood is divisible into five, small-scale, fining-upward, sequence-like cycles, which contain prominent, widespread deformed horizons. Facies analysis indicates that four lithofacies, which reflect distinct depositional environments, comprise the sequences across the shoal complex. Lithofacies were correlated across the shoal complex by integrating cyclicity and widespread deformed horizons in order to delineate the locations of major depositional environments. Facies analysis shows that the thickest and coarsest parts of each sequence, and the shallowest depositional environments, coincide with basement fault blocks, which are known to have experienced uplift during earlier Lexington Limestone deposition. The occurrence of thick, coarse facies on the same blocks suggests that the blocks continued to experience uplift into shallow water, where tides and waves redistributed sediments during upper Tanglewood deposition. Although eustasy apparently controlled cyclicity, Taconian far-field forces generated by orogeny in the east seem to have influenced facies distribution in each cycle through reactivation of basement fault zones as synsedimentary growth faults. The example of the upper Tanglewood Member shows that tectonic far-field forces can exert important influences on the development of carbonate depositional environments, even in distal intracratonic settings like the Lexington Platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the Geological Society of America -based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1354519 and the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences , University of Kentucky -Student research support. We are also grateful to C. E. Brett and an anonymous reviewer for their careful and constructive reviews of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Basement faulting
  • Eustasy
  • Intra-platform carbonate shoal complex
  • Small-scale sequence cyclicity
  • Taconian Orogeny
  • Upper Ordovician Lexington/Trenton Limestone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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