Sand and gravel represent Kentucky's second-most important source of mineral construction material, being exceeded only by limestone. However, deposits which meet most requirements and specifications for aggregates are not evenly distributed. This report is an overview of the sand and gravel resources of Kentucky, summarizing data gathered from literature search and personal observations.
Principal production of sand and gravel in Kentucky is concentrated in the channels and valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Approximately two-thirds of Kentucky's current production is derived from floating dredge operations in the Ohio River itself and glacial outwash deposits of Wisconsin age along its valley.
Extensive deposits of fresh-water chert gravels and unconsolidated, fine-grained, quartzose, marine sands are present in the Mississippi Embayment area of western Kentucky, but because of their gradation and lithologic characteristics, they are used relatively little at this time.
A few, small, high-level terrace sand and gravel deposits are present on uplands adjacent to or relatively near some of Kentucky's major waterways. These represent remnants of ancient stream deposits and generally are of small areal extent and variable composition. Consequently they have limited commercial significance.
Highly weathered or poorly indurated conglomerates and sandstones of Pennsylvanian and Mississippian ages have been exploited locally for miscellaneous construction and industrial purposes when conventional deposits were not available. Poor gradation and deleterious accessory minerals have limited their use.
On the basis of current use, most Kentucky deposits are classified as construction sands and gravels. Some deposits, however, contain a sufficiently high silica content to classify them as industrial sands and gravels; they are used on a limited scale in foundry, metallurgical, and miscellaneous industries.
Report of Investigations 1
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
McGrain, Preston, "Overview of Sand and Gravel Resources of Kentucky" (1982). Kentucky Geological Survey Report of Investigations. 43.