Kentucky Geological Survey Information Circular


Tar sands (also referred to as asphaltic sandstones, heavy-oil deposits, or bitumen-impregnated sandstones) in western Kentucky have been recognized as a potential mineral resource for over l 00 years. Past commercial development has been restricted largely to use as paving material. However, because of the ever-expanding demands for energy, these deposits have become the subject of increasing interest as a potential petroleum resource.

Previous studies have provided estimates of the potential resources of shallow mineable tar-sand deposits; these investigations have concentrated on the outcrop areas where tar sands are present at or near the surface. Data on subsurface deposits have been lacking, however, and currently no reports are available which evaluate the potential oil resources associated with the occurrences of deeper tar-sand deposits in western Kentucky.

The Kentucky Geological Survey has initiated a project to inventory and evaluate the oil-resource potential of asphaltic sandstones in the subsurface of western Kentucky.

The purpose of this report is to evaluate the subsurface occurrences of asphaltic sandstones in the Big Clifty Sandstone Member of the Golconda Formation in a portion of the tar-sand area of western Kentucky. This evaluation is based on a compilation of published information and data available in the files of the Kentucky Geological Survey. Acquisition of new data, primarily by core drilling, will be necessary before any reliable estimate of the total volume of this potential oil resource can be attempted.

Publication Date



Series XI

Report Number

Information Circular 7

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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