Evidence for Possible Late Paleozoic Alleghenian Deformation Structures in the Devonian Rocks of Erie County, Ohio, USA


  • Mohammad D. Fakhari Division of Geological Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • D. Mark Jones Division of Geological Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Mark T. Baranoski (Retired) Division of Geological Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources




folding in Ohio, Berea Sandstone, overturned strata


Partially exposed bedrock beneath Pleistocene glacial till in Erie County (north-central Ohio) displays unusual structural deformation in the Devonian Berea Sandstone, Bedford Shale, and Ohio Shale. These folded and faulted units are exposed in creeks as anticlines and synclines. Past studies of this area proposed Pleistocene ice movement and soft-sediment deformation during the Late Paleozoic as the deformation mechanisms, but these hypotheses cannot explain the extent of layer displacement or the contradiction between the southwest travel direction of the ice sheet and the structural sense of motion on the folded units. A new interpretation using field data and constructing geologic profiles explains the development of these structures. This study investigated 17 anticlines that trend in different directions. Four of these anticlines are tightly folded with steep or overturned flanks and thrust-faulted Ohio Shale in their cores. Structural analysis of these folds shows that the incompetent shaly units of the Plum Brook–Ohio–Bedford and competent Berea Sandstone were folded above the Delaware–Niagara carbonates as a result of the compressional stress during the Late Paleozoic. Development of these tight or overturned folds, and change in trend of the anticlines, is caused by unusual stratigraphic thickness variations in the Berea and Bedford units. Preserved and undeformed fine sedimentary structures, and sharply faulted beds, in the Berea and Bedford indicate that soft-sediment deformation was not the cause of the regional structural deformation. Finally, the absence of physical features of glacially deformed bedrock demonstrates that Pleistocene glacial ice shove was not the cause of deformed bedrock units in the study area.