Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Alan E. Fryar

Second Advisor

Stephen F. Greb


The Jackson Purchase region of western Kentucky consists of Coastal Plain sediments near the northern margin of the Mississippi Embayment. Within this region is the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP), a uranium enrichment facility operated by the US Department of Energy. At PGDP, a Superfund site, soil and groundwater studies have provided subsurface lithologic data from hundreds of monitoring wells and borings. Despite preliminary efforts by various contractors, these data have not been utilized to develop detailed stratigraphic correlations of sedimentary units across the study area. In addition, sedimentary exposures along streams in the vicinity of PGDP have not been systematically described beyond the relatively simple geologic quadrangle maps published by the US Geological Survey in 196667. This study integrates lithologic logs, other previous site-investigation data, and outcrop mapping to provide a compilation of near-surface lithologic and stratigraphic data for the PGDP area. A database of borehole data compiled during this study has been provided to PGDP for future research and archival. Developments in understanding near-surface geology include the adoption of nomenclature used by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), which separates the Continental Deposits into two distinct units, the Mounds Gravel and Metropolis Formation, based on their unique depositional histories. Additionally, faulting presented on the preliminary Joppa (IL) 7.5-minute quadrangle map, but not mapped on the Joppa (KY) 7.5-minute quadrangle map, appears to have impacted deposition of post-Eocene sediments at the site. These faults are co-linear to zones of irregularity noted in the Cretaceous McNairy Formation structure elevation map created during this study, thick zones of the Mounds Gravel noted in an isopach map from this study, and contaminant plume maps created previously by contractors.