Bennington, J Bret, 1996. Stratigraphic and biofacies patterns in the Middle Pennsylvanian Magoffin Marine Unit in the Appalachian Basin, U.S.A. International Journal of Coal Geology 31:169-194. (Full-text PDF 1.1 mb)


The Magoffin marine unit is a Middle Pennsylvanian age interval of marine strata that directly overlies the Taylor, Copeland, and correlative coal zones in the Appalachian basin. For this study the Magoffin was measured, described, and sampled at 17 localities along a northeast to southwest transect in the center of the Middle Pennsylvanian outcrop belt in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Throughout the study area the base of the Magoffin is characterized by a thin, dark, highly fossiliferous limestone with a brachiopod-dominated fossil assemblage. The limestone base is usually overlain by a fining-upward sequence consisting of fossiliferous dark shales or mudstones with mollusk-dominated assemblages. These dark mudstones include a fissile black shale with a distinctive Posidonia fauna deposited over part of the study area. The lower, fining sequence is overlain by a thicker, coarsening sequence bearing brachiopod-dominated fossil assemblages. The lower beds of the Magoffin, particularly the basal limestone, are persistent and relatively uniform throughout the study area. In contrast, strata in the upper part of the Magoffin sequence show a high degree of geographic variability, with localities in the southwestern half of the study area showing two successive, thick, coarsening-upward sequences of strata, while those to the northeast record a single thinner coarsening-upward sequence. The widespread, uniform nature of the basal Magoffin limestone appears to indicate rapid transgressive flooding of the coal-swamp and associated environments accompanied by a hiatus in clastic influx into the Magoffin seaway. Nearshore brachiopod faunas were replaced by deeper-water, possibly dysaerobic-adapted mollusk faunas as transgression progressed, culminating in the fissile black shales and monotaxic Posidonia fauna deposited beneath a localized pycnocline during maximum transgression. The onset of regression is indicated by the reverse of the stratigraphic sequence of faunas observed during transgression, and by the return of rapid clastic influx into the basin.