Alum Cave Limestone Member (abandoned)

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Lithostratigraphy: Carbondale Formation >>Alum Cave Limestone Member
Chronostratigraphy: Paleozoic Erathem >>Pennsylvanian Subsystem >>Desmoinesian Series
Allostratigraphy: Absaroka Sequence

Primary source

Nelson, W.J., P.H. Heckel and J.M. Obrad, 2022, Pennsylvanian Subsystem in Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey, Bulletin (in press).

Contributing author(s)

W.J. Nelson


Original description

Logan (1930, p. 168) showed “Alum Cave” on a chart but did not clearly designate which beds were so named. Wanless (1939) apparently was the first to apply the name “Alum Cave Limestone” in Indiana, but he considered it correlative with the St. David Limestone, which he had named previously (Wanless 1931). The Alum Cave appears on columns of county coal-resource maps dating back to Wier (1952), but none of these constitutes formal publication. Wier (1961) described the Alum Cave Limestone and specified a stratotype, but the description is missing from the only extant original of this unpublished manuscript. Shaver et al. (1970) published the earliest formal usage of “Alum Cave Limestone Member.”


The name refers to a former coal mining community located east of Hymera near the eastern border of Sullivan County, Indiana. Neither the town nor the “cave” is shown on current maps. Baker (1984, p. 175) writes, “The post office named [the town] Alum Creek, and the reason is because there is a small canyon of pure white limestone, which doesn’t occur in Clay County except in spots. The stream is alum water, and there are balls of alum all along the stream edge. . .. Alum Cave had one side in Sullivan and one side in Brazil [Clay County], and it had ten saloons and one general store. There was always a knifing there every Saturday night, and it was so wild that even the sheriff wouldn’t go in. The only man from outside Alum Cave itself who would go into that town over a weekend was a doctor. After the town was moved, the decent people hated the town of Alum Cave so much that they tore down all the buildings.”

Type section

Type location

The section consists of outcrops in NW¼ NE¼ of sec. 25, T 9 N, R 8 W, Sullivan County, Indiana. No published description exists.

Type author(s)

Shaver et al. (1970).

Type status


Reference section


Stratigraphic relationships

The Alum Cave Limestone directly overlies the Turner Mine Shale Member, above the Springfield Coal. Shaver et al. (1986) acknowledged that the Alum Cave is the same unit as the St. David Limestone Member in Illinois. Conodont biostratigraphy performed by Brown et al. (2016) further confirms the identity of the Alum Cave with the St. David. Because the name St. David has priority (Savage 1927), the name “Alum Cave Limestone Member” is hereby abandoned.


  • Baker, R.L., 1984, Hoosier folk legends: Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 288 p.
  • Brown, L.M., C.B. Rexroad, and A.N. Zimmerman, 2016, Conodont paleontology of the Alum Cave Limestone Member of the Dugger Formation (Pennsylvanian, Desmoinesian) in the eastern part of the Illinois Basin: Indiana Geological Survey, Occasional Paper 72, 25 p.
  • Logan, W.N., 1930, The mineral fuel resources of Indiana, in Indiana Year Book for 1929: Bloomington, Indiana Geological Survey, p. 161–171.
  • Savage, T.E., 1927, Significant breaks and overlaps in the Pennsylvanian rocks of Illinois: American Journal of Science, v. 14, p. 307–318.
  • Shaver, R.H., Ann M. Burger, G.R. Gates, H.H. Gray, H.C. Hutchison, S.J. Keller, J.B. Patton, C.B. Rexroad, N.M. Smith, W.J. Wayne, and C.E. Wier, 1970, Compendium of rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey, Bulletin 43, 229 p., 1 pl.
  • Shaver, R.H., C. H. Ault, A.M. Burger, D.D. Carr, J.B. Droste, D.L. Eggert, H.H. Gray, D. Harper, N.R. Hasenmueller, W.A. Hasenmueller, A.S. Horowitz, H.C. Hutchison, B. Keith, S.J. Keller, J.B. Patton, C.B. Rexroad, and C.E. Wier, 1986, Compendium of Paleozoic rock-unit stratigraphy in Indiana—A revision: Indiana Geological Survey, Bulletin 59, 203 p.
  • Wanless, H.R., 1931, Pennsylvanian cycles in western Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey, Bulletin 60, p. 179–193.
  • Wier, C.E., 1952, Distribution, structure, and mined areas of coals in Sullivan County, Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey, Preliminary Coal Map No. 2, 1 sheet, 1:126,720.
  • Wier, C.E. 1961, Stratigraphy of the Carbondale and McLeansboro Groups in southwestern Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey, unpublished bulletin, 147 p. and unnumbered appendix, (accessed October 5, 2020).

ISGS Codes

Stratigraphic Code Geo Unit Designation

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