Historical:Murphysboro Coal Member

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Handbook of Illinois Stratigraphy
Series Bulletin 95
Author H. B. Willman, Elwood Atherton, T. C. Buschbach, Charles Collinson, John C. Frye, M. E. Hopkins, Jerry A. Lineback, Jack A. Simon
Date 1975
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Lithostratigraphy: Kewanee Group >>Spoon Formation >>Murphysboro Coal Member
Chronostratigraphy: Paleozoic Erathem >>Pennsylvanian Subsystem >>Desmoinesian Series
Allostratigraphy: Absaroka Sequence


M. E. Hopkins and J. A. Simon

Name Origin

The Murphysboro Coal Member of the Spoon Formation (Worthen, 1868, p. 11- 12) is named for Murphysboro, Jackson County.

Type Section

The type locality is in Murphysboro in mines (SE 9, 9S-2W) (Wanless, 1956, p. 9).

Extent and Thickness

The Murphysboro Coal is well developed only in Jackson County and western Williamson County, where it has been reported to be locally more than 7 feet thick.

Stratigraphic Position

In early reports the Murphysboro Coal was correlated with the Colchester (No. 2) Coal, but its position was later found to be lower (Wanless and Weller, 1932), and it is now known to be between the No. 1 and No. 2 Coals.


In places the Murphysboro occurs in several benches separated by shale (Shaw and Savage, 1912). Mining started in this area around 1810, and the coal was sent to New Orleans in flatboats via the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers. Where the Murphysboro Coal is thick it is overlain by 40 or more feet of gray silty shale. In these areas the coal contains much less sulfur than elsewhere and resembles the Herrin (No. 6) and Harrisburg (No. 5) Coals, which also have low-sulfur contents where they have thick roof shales. Where relatively thin, the Murphysboro Coal contains much more sulfur, chiefly in the mineral pyrite.


SHAW, E. W., and T. E. SAVAGE, 1912, Murphysboro and Herrin Quadrangles: USGS Geological Atlas Folio 185, 15 p.
WANLESS, H. R., 1929, Geology and mineral resources of the Alexis Quadrangle: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 57, 230 p.
WANLESS, H. R., and J. M. WELLER, 1932, Correlation and extent of Pennsylvanian cyclothems: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 43, p. 1003-1016.
WORTHEN, A. H., 1868, Geology and paleontology: Geological Survey of Illinois, v. 3, 574 p.

ISGS Codes

Stratigraphic Code Geo Unit Designation