Late Devonian strata in the eastern United States are generally considered as having been deposited under warm tropical conditions. However, a stratigraphically restricted Late Devonian succession of diamictite-mudstone-sandstone within the Spechty Kopf and Rockwell Formations that extends for more than 400 km along depositional strike within the central Appalachian Basin may indicate otherwise. This lithologic association unconformably overlies the Catskill Formation, where a 3- to 5-m-thick interval of deformed strata occurs immediately below the diamictite strata. The diamictite facies consists of several subfacies that are interpreted to be subglacial, englacial, supraglacial meltout, and resedimented deposits. The mudstone facies that overlies the diamictite consists of subfacies of chaotically bedded, clast-poor mudstone, and laminated mudstone subfacies that represent subaqueous proximal debris flows and distal glaciolacustrine rhythmites or varvites, respectively. The pebbly sandstone facies is interpreted as proglacial braided outwash deposits that both preceded glacial advance and followed glacial retreat.
Both the tectonic and depositional frameworks suggest that the facies were deposited in a terrestrial setting within the Appalachian foreland basin during a single glacial advance and retreat. Regionally, areas that were not covered by ice were subject to increased rainfall as indicated by wet-climate paleosols. River systems eroded deeper channels in response to sea-level drop during glacial advance. Marine facies to the west contain iceborne dropstone boulders preserved within contemporaneous units of the Cleveland Shale Member of the Ohio Shale.
The stratigraphic interval correlative with sea-level drop, climate change, and glacigenic succession represents one of the Appalachian Basin's most prolific oil- and gas-producing intervals and is contemporaneous with a global episode of sea-level drop responsible for the deposition of the Hangenberg Shale/Sandstone of Europe. This interval records the Hangenberg biotic crisis near the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary.