Keyser Formation

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Keyser Formation
Stratigraphic range: Pridoli-Lochkovian[1]
Keyser Formation 522.jpg
Outcrop of the Keyser Formation on U.S. Route 522 in Fulton County, Pennsylvania north of Warfordsburg.
Type Sedimentary
Unit of Helderberg Group
Sub-units Byers Island, Jersey Shore, La Vale
Underlies New Creek Limestone and Old Port Formation
Overlies Tonoloway Formation
Thickness 33 m (108 ft) at Allegheny Furnace
Primary Limestone
Region Appalachian Mountains
Extent Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
Type section
Named for Keyser, West Virginia
Named by E. O. Ulrich, 1911[2]

The Late Silurian to Early Devonian Keyser Formation is a mapped limestone bedrock unit in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.


The Keyser is a nodular limestone overlain by thick- and thin-bedded limestone and laminated limestone at its type locality in Keyser, West Virginia.

In central Pennsylvania, the basal "calico" limestone is a fossiliferous, medium-light- to medium-gray very thick bedded calcilutite containing numerous small irregular patches of clear calcite. The abundantly fossiliferous, nodular limestone at the base overlies the "calico". Overlying this is 5 to 6 m of fragmental calcarenite containing abundant crinoid columnals. Above the calcarenite is 6 m of fossiliferous, banded calcisiltite. The uppermost 15 m is a sequence alternating between laminated, stromatolitic calcisiltite, and calcilutite and calcisiltite that are argillaceous and fossiliferous.[3]

Depositional environment[edit]

The depositional environment of the Keyser is interpreted as shallow marine and tidal flats, occurring in cycles.[4]


Contact with Tonoloway Formation is probably conformable, but sharp enough to suggest an unconformity. Upper contact with the Old Port Formation is conformable.

The Keyser was divided into three members by J. W. Head in 1972.[5] These are, from lowest to highest, the Byers Island Member, Jersey Shore Member, and La Vale Member. The type locality of the Byers Island Member is at Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where it is 93 feet thick. The type locality of the Jersey Shore Member is at Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. The type locality of the La Vale Member is at the Corriganville quarry, Allegany County, Maryland, and is named from nearby town of La Vale. This nomenclature is accepted by the USGS.

In Virginia and West Virginia the Keyser is divided into Upper and Lower Members by the Big Mountain Shale Member.[6]

Fossil content[edit]

Crinoid fragments at the Old Eldorado Quarry outcrop along I-99, Blair County, PA
Stromatoporoids at the Old Eldorado Quarry outcrop along I-99, Blair County, PA
Tabulate coral in the New Enterprise New Paris Quarry on Chestnut Ridge in Bedford County, PA. Probably Halysites.

Notable outcrops[edit]


Relative age dating places the Keyser in the late Silurian to early Devonian, with the transition occurring near the top of the formation. Denkler and Harris used conodont biostratigraphy to confirm this.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paleozoic Sedimentary Successions of the Virginia Valley & Ridge and Plateau
  2. ^ Ulrich, E.O., 1911, Revision of the Paleozoic systems: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 22, p. 281-680.
  3. ^ Faill, R.T., Glover, A.D., and Way, J.H., 1989, Geology and mineral resources of the Blandburg, Tipton, Altoona, and Bellwood quadrangles, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield and Centre Counties, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Geological Survey Topographic and Geologic Atlas, 4th series, 86, 209 p., scale 1:24,000 and 1:48,000
  4. ^ Anderson, E.J., Goodwin, P.W., and Sinclair, C.J., 2003, Facies and paleoenvironments of the Keyser Formation in the context of its cyclic structure, in Way, J.H., and others, eds., Geology on the edge: selected geology of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, and Somerset Counties, Guidebook, 68th Annual Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists, Altoona, PA, p. 1-18
  5. ^ Head, J.W., III, 1972, Upper Silurian-Lower Devonian stratigraphy and nomenclature in the central Appalachians, IN Guidebook for the 37th annual field conference of Pennsylvania geologists: Field Conference of Pennsylvania Geologists, no. 37, p. 96-103.
  6. ^ a b c d Helfrich, C. T., 1978, A Conodont Fauna from the Keyser Limestone of Virginia and West Virginia, Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 52, No. 5 (Sep., 1978), pp. 1133-1142 [1]
  7. ^ a b Denkler, K.E. and Harris, A.G., 1988, Conodont-based determination of the Silurian-Devonian boundary in the Valley and Ridge province, northern and central Appalachians, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1837-B [p. B1-B13] IN Sando, W.J., ed., Shorter contributions to paleontology and stratigraphy. [2]