Abstract

Analyses of two seismic-reflection lines in western Kentucky indicate the presence of two Proterozoic, unconformity-bounded sequences. One is autochthonous and of probable Late Proterozoic age; the other is allochthonous and of probable Middle Proterozoic age. Reflector patterns and apparent relationships to similar sequences elsewhere in the region suggest that the two sequences are of continental-rift origin. The two Proterozoic sequences lie beneath and adjacent to rocks of the Cambrian rift sequence in the Rough Creek Graben. The oldest sequence, the pre-Grenville sequence, was apparently folded and thrust faulted by the Grenville compressional event, implying that it is older than ∼0.975 Ga (Middle Proterozoic). Two seismic-reflection pattern types are present in the western Kentucky data that may relate to the Middle Run (lithic arenite) and volcanic sequences defined farther east near the Grenville Front. The presence of imbricate, thrust-belt geometries in the pre-Grenville sequence extends the known westward limit of Grenville compressional structures into western Kentucky. The younger, post-Grenville sequence is less deformed and was apparently formed after the Grenville compressional event; several lines of evidence indicate that it is Late Proterozoic (0.7 to 0.6 Ga) in age. This probable siliciclastic and volcanic-rift sequence is represented by only thin remnants in western Kentucky and has no equivalent near the Grenville Front in southwestern Ohio and central Kentucky. Rocks of the better documented Cambrian rifting event belong to the thick, pre-Knox sequence in the Rough Creek Graben of western Kentucky and lie unconformably above these earlier sequences. A previously undocumented, northward-thickening interval within the lower part of the Cambrian pre-Knox sequence is recognized north of the Rough Creek Graben.

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