Scales Shale

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Lithostratigraphy: Maquoketa Shale Group >>Scales Shale
Chronostratigraphy: Paleozoic Erathem >>Ordovician System >>Cincinnatian Series >>Maysvillian Stage
Allostratigraphy: Tippecanoe Sequence

Primary source

Willman, H. B., Elwood Atherton, T. C. Buschbach, Charles Collinson, John C. Frye, M. E. Hopkins, Jerry A. Lineback, and Jack A. Simon, 1975, Handbook of Illinois Stratigraphy: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 95, 261 p.

Contributing author(s)

H. B. Willman and T. C. Buschbach


Original description

The Scales Shale (Templeton and Willman, 1963, p. 135, in which it was called the Scales Formation).


Named for Scales Mound, Jo Daviess County.

Other names

The Scales Shale has been called "the lower brown shale member" (Willman and Payne, 1942), "the lower shale zone" (DuBois, 1945), or the Scales Formation (Templeton and Willman, 1963).


Type section

Type location

The type section of the Scales Shale Formation is a railroad cut on the west side of the town (SW NE SW 26, 29N-2E). Only the lower 30 feet, overlying the Dubuque Formation, is exposed in the type section, but the upper 18 feet is exposed 5 miles east in another railroad cut (SW SW SW 15, 29N-3E).

Type author(s)

Type status

Reference section

Reference location

Reference author(s)

Reference status

Stratigraphic relationships

The Scales Shale is the "lower shale" formation in the Maquoketa Group in most of Illinois.

Extent and thickness

The Scales Shale is extensive but is exposed only in northwestern Illinois and in small areas near West Point Landing in Calhoun County, Valmeyer in Monroe County, and Thebes in Alexander County. The formation is generally 75-100 feet thick, but it ranges from 50-150 feet thick.


The lower part is generally dark gray to dark brown shale, which is differentiated as the Elgin Shale Member. At the top of the Scales is a gray shale- the Clermont Shale Member- that contains beds of argillaceous limestone. In the southwestern part of Illinois, brown sandstone and siltstone at the base of the Scales is differentiated as the Thebes Sandstone Member, and the shale overlying it is the Orchard Creek Shale Member.




Well log characteristics


Age and correlation

Environments of deposition

Economic importance



DUBOIS, E. P., 1945, I. Subsurface relations of the Maquoketa and "Trenton" Formations in Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Report of Investigations 105, p. 7-33.
TEMPLETON, J. S., and H. B. WILLMAN, 1963, Champlainian Series (Middle Ordovician) in Illinois: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 89, 260 p.
WILLMAN, H. B., and J. N. PAYNE, 1942, Geology and mineral resources of the Marseilles, Ottawa, and Streator Quadrangles: Illinois State Geological Survey Bulletin 66, 388 p.

ISGS Codes

Stratigraphic Code Geo Unit Designation