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Kentucky Geologic Map

Geologic Maps of the 50 United States


Kentucky extends from the inland side of the Appalachian Mountains on the east to the Mississippi River bed on the west. (more below)
Kentucky's rocks

Created by Andrew Alden from the U.S. Geological Survey's Geologic Map of the United States, 1974, by Philip King and Helen Beikman (fair use policy)

Click the map for a larger version
Kentucky's coverage of geologic time is spotty, having gaps in the Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic periods, and no rocks older than Ordovician (dark rose) are exposed anywhere in the state. Its rocks are mostly sedimentary, laid down in warm, shallow seas that have covered the central North American plate throughout most of its history.

Kentucky's oldest rocks crop out in a wide, gentle uplift in the north called the Jessamine Dome, a particularly high part of the Cincinnati Arch. Younger rocks, including thick deposits of coal laid down during later periods, have been eroded away, but Silurian and Devonian rocks (lilac) persist around the edges of the dome.

The coal measures of the American Midwest are so thick that the rocks known as the Carboniferous Series elsewhere in the world are subdivided by American geologists into the Mississippian (blue) and Pennsylvanian (dun and gray). In Kentucky, these coal-bearing rocks are thickest in the gentle downwarps of the Appalachian Basin on the east and the Illinois Basin on the west.

Younger sediments (yellow and green), starting from the late Cretaceous, occupy the Mississippi River valley and the banks of the Ohio River along the northwestern border. The west end of Kentucky is in the New Madrid seismic zone and has a significant earthquake hazard.

The Kentucky Geological Survey Web site has much more detail, including a simplified, clickable version of the state geologic map.

More about Kentucky Geology

More Kentucky resources on About.com:
About Louisville
Kentucky Maps
Kentucky Geography, State Symbols & Facts
Kentucky Campgrounds
Kentucky National Parks
Kentucky State Parks
Kentucky Getaways
Kentucky Military History Sites
Kentucky Thoroughbred Farms
Kentucky Archaeology

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