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 Economic minerals


Notes on the geology of Walton County ( FGS: Open file report 3 )
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001002/00001
 Material Information
Title: Notes on the geology of Walton County ( FGS: Open file report 3 )
Series Title: ( FGS: Open file report 3 )
Physical Description: 1 v. (unpaged) : ill., maps ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Schmidt, Walter, 1950-
Florida Geological Survey
Publisher: Florida Geological Survey
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: 1984
Subjects / Keywords: Geology -- Florida -- Walton County   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by Walter Schmidt.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Cover title.
Funding: Digitized as a collaborative project with the Florida Geological Survey, Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management:
The author dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law and all related or neighboring legal rights he or she had in the work, to the extent allowable by law.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001545496
oclc - 22438725
notis - AHF9016
System ID: UF00001002:00001


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 11
        Page 20
        Page 21
    Economic minerals
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
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Full Text


[year of publication as printed] Florida Geological Survey [source text]

The Florida Geological Survey holds all rights to the source text of
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Florida Geological Survey shall be considered the copyright holder
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Under the Statutes of the State of Florida (FS 257.05; 257.105, and
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information and permissions.

State of Florida
Department of Natural Resources
Elton J. Gissendanner, Executive Director

Division of Resource Management
Charles W. Hendry, Jr., Director

Florida Geological Survey
Steve R. Windham, Chief

Open File Report 3

Notes on the Geology of Walton County


Walter Schmidt

Florida Geological Survey
Tallahassee, Florida

3 1262 04545 4369

,0T ,





June 1984

Florida Geological Survey

Open File Report 3

Notes on the Geology


Walton County, Florida


Walter Schmidt

Florida Geological Survey

June 1984

Florida Bureau of Geology Library
903 W. Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32304

Florida Bureau of Geology Library
903 W. Tennessee Street
GEOLOGY Tallahassee, F!erida 323C4


The United States has been divided into physiographic provinces based on

the.origin and physiographic expression of the underlying sediments (Fennemen,

1938). Fenneman (1938, p. 1-83) placed the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal areas in

the Coastal Plain Province, and described them as a sequence of sedimentary

strata laid down, for the most part, in a marine environment and limited to

formations of Cretaceous or younger age.

He noted significant differences in the Coastal Plain Province which

enabled him to erect subdivisions called the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the

Gulf Coastal Plain. Though the transition from the Atlantic portion to the

Gulf portion was subtle he separated it along a line that divides the drainage

to the Atlantic Ocean from that to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf Coastal Plain is divisible into eastern and western portions

based on the width of the outcrop pattern of formations and in the character

of the outcrop area of these formations, notably in resistance to erosion.

The entire area of Walton County lies within the East Gulf Coastal Plain of

Fenneman (1938).

Cooke (1939, p. 14-18) first classified Florida topography, erecting two

major divisions, of which three are highlands and two are lowlands. His basis

of separating the highlands and lowlands was the general nature of relief of

the surface and whether they lay above or below the 100-foot contour. He

called that area in west Florida above 100 feet in elevation the Western

Highlands and that below 100 feet in elevation the Coastal Lowlands.

On the basis of origin Vernon (1951, p. 16) also divided the physio-

graphy of Florida into two primary groups (highlands and lowlands), and he

further subdivided them into two secondary units. These secondary divisions

are the Delta Plain Highlands, the Tertiary Highlands, the Terraced Coastal

Lowlands, and the River Valley Lowlands. He defined his highlands either

as "... sediments formed as a part of a high-level, widespread, aggradational

delta plain or of Tertiary land masses rising above this plain." His lowlands

were described as being formed by either marine erosion and deposition along

coast lines or by alluviation and erosion along stream valleys.

The physiography of Florida has been further revised and described in

detail by White, Vernon and Puri (Puri and Vernon 1964, p. 7). They continued

the use of highlands and lowlands as primary divisions, with their highlands

divided into the Northern Highlands and Central Highlands, and their lowlands

divided into the Atlantic Coastal Lowlands, Intermediate Coastal Lowlands, and

the Gulf Coastal Lowlands.

Using the above classification, and based on topographic expression,

Walton County can be divided into the following major geomorphic divisions:

1) the Northern Highlands, 2) the Gulf Coastal Lowlands, and 3) the River

Valley Lowlands (see figure 1).

Northern Highlands

The Northern Highlands is a discontinuous area of relatively high land

that extends from Alabama and Georgia into Florida across the northern portion

of the state. Its southern terminus is 30-40 miles south of the state line

and is generally marked by a prominent seaward-facing escarpment called the

Cody Scarp (Puri and Vernon, 1964, p. 11). Cooke (1939, p. 14-22) called

these highlands the Western Highlands, the Tallahassee Hills, and the Central

Highlands (in part).

These highlands have been described as the remnant of a large delta plain

made up of small coalescing subdelta plains (post-Miocene clastics) that

blanketed the older Miocene deposits in post-Late Miocene to early Pleistocene

time (Vernon, 1951, p. 15).

In Walton County the Northern Highlands is composed of a

Pliocene-Pleistocene delta (Citronelle Formation) whose surface has been

dissected by streams exposing underlying Miocene clastics, and has been

further modified by dissolution of subsurface calcium carbonates (limestones).

The topography is characterized by erosional remnant hills with relief up to

100 feet. The highest hills reach elevations in excess of 340 feet near the

state line and slope to elevations of about 150 feet in the southern portion

of the county where the Pleistocene marine terrace deposits overlap them.

These hills are composed of a heterogeneous mixture of grayish to

yellowish-orange silts, quartz sands and gravels that are poorly indurated

with clays and iron oxide, massive clay beds, and post-depositional limonite.

Sellards and Gunter (1918, p. 27) described a feature that is charac-

teristic of the highlands area of west Florida. At the head of many small

creeks or streams a spring emerges at the base of a steep-walled, semicircular

bluff. Sellards called these features "steepheads." He described their ori-

gin as .due to the fact that indurated sands and sandy clays overlie

slightly indurated sands and clays and shell marls. The surface waters pass

into the earth and, upon reaching the underlying clay or marl beds, emerge as

springs. The indurated sandy clays near the surface stand up vertically,

while the softer sands, at a greater depth where the springs emerge, wash

easily. The result is the formation of a nearly vertical bluff, at the base

of which springs emerge supplying small streams. These bluffs or stream heads

assume in time a semi-circular form, which is the 'steephead'. The steephead

thus formed is retained by the stream as it gradually extends its way back

into the plateau. The depth of the steephead from the plateau is usually from

50 to 60 or more feet, depending upon the depth at which the ground waters

emerge as springs." There are many steepheads in Walton County.

Other notable features that commonly occur in the highlands area of

Walton County are the flat surfaced, swampy areas that are locally called

"bays." These features range in size from a few acres to over a square mile

in area. The terrain immediately surrounding the bays is steep and the bay

floors are usually 60 to 80 feet lower than the surrounding highlands. The

bays are frequently interconnected with small creeks. Their outlines are very

irregular and some of the larger bays have hills within their broader limits.

As no large streams are responsible for the erosion of these bays they

obviously are the result of dissolution of subsurface calcium carbonate depo-

sits with subsequent surface lowering.

Though sinkholes occur in this fashion and are present in the area, the

bays are unlike classical sinkholes in that they are large in area with irre-

gular outlines, have flat swampy bottoms, and are apparently forming at a

slower rate.

The occurrence of these bays in Walton County is limited to the area

north of U. S. Highway 90 and extend eastward to the Marianna Lowlands in

Holmes County. Probably the Marianna Lowlands have been formed and extended

westward somewhat in this manner, and these bays likely exemplify a very early

stage of lowland development.

The continued westward migration of the bays is greatly retarded or even

prevented due to the increased depth to carbonate strata caused by the south-

western dip of the limestone. This dip increasingly prevents the acid-charged

percolating ground water from affecting these strata containing or composed of

calcium carbonate.


During the Pleistocene Epoch or "Great Ice Age" there were worldwide

fluctuations of sea level which were tied in with the formation and dissipa-

tion of the polar ice caps. The major advances of the ice caps are referred

to as glacial stages. These glacial advances required vast quantities of

water supplied from the seas which resulted in lowered sea levels. When the

ice caps receded large quantities of water were released to the seas resulting

in higher sea levels. Since each advance and recession of the ice caps was of

a different magnitude the resultant lowering or rise in sea level was dif-


During the period of time when the ice caps were in an interglacial stage

the higher sea levels encroached upon the land. At these high stands the seas

eroded the inundated sediments and redeposited them in the form of a sloping

plain or terrace. At the landward margin or shoreline of the seas there often

was cut a bench or notch called an escarpment. Therefore, for each stand of

the sea there may exist a terrace with its shoreline escarpment.

The Gulf Coastal Lowlands are a series of coast-parallel plains or terra-

ces composed of clastics which extend from the coast to successively higher

levels in a landward direction, with each terrace separated from the next by an

escarpment or gentle slope. In the southern portion of Walton County plains

lying almost parallel to the present coastline which are bounded by escarp-

ments are recognized. The landward elevation of these terraces occur at

approximately 150 feet (Okeefenokee), 100 feet (Wicomico) and 35 feet

(Pamlico) above the present sea level (see figure 2). An escarpment at 10

feet (Silver Bluff) is present but poorly preserved, and its alignment is too

uncertain to depict except along the lower reaches of the Choctawhatchee


River Valley Lowlands

River Valley Lowlands is the terminology used by Vernon (1951, p. 16) for

the flood plain deposits of streams and their associated valleys. Many

streams in the Coastal Plain are old enough to have originated well back into

the Pleistocene Epoch, and the geomorphology of their river valley lowlands

reflects the Pleistocene sea level fluctuations as do the coastal marine


Rivers in their life history pass through a period of downcutting or ero-

sion and alluviation. The younger the stream the more vigorous the erosion

and the more irregular and steep is its longitudinal profile or slope.

Gradually, with time, a valley is cut and the flood plain sediments are depo-

sited within it, with a condition of equilibrium being approached. That is,

the stream has acquired a profile just sufficient to permit transportation of

its load, and it now meanders back and forth across its flood plain. However,

a change in any aspect of the stream system is reflected in a readjustment of

the entire system by either renewed downcutting or renewed alluviation within

its valley. Consequently, during the life of streams that originated during

the Pleistocene Epoch there exists for each lowering of base level (sea level)

a fluvial terrace that was formed as a flood plain of the river. Along

streams in the Coastal Plains Province fluvial terraces above the modern flood

plain are common.

There are five areas within Walton County that can be classified as river

valley lowlands. Four (Alaqua, Bruce, Pea and Shoal rivers) of these are

within the Western Highlands area and the fifth (Choctawhatchee River) is

within the Gulf Coastal Lowlands along the southeastern boundary of the

county. In addition to these five there are other stream areas that are not

treated in detail in this report.

The flood plain alluviums associated with the streams smaller than the

Choctawhatchee are only narrow bands parallel to the stream courses. Though

these streams are in a youthful stage of development their eroded valleys are

prominent and on a detailed physiographic map they could be depicted as broad

valleys along each side of the stream courses. Several smaller streams are

present within the county, which have cut valleys; however, only the ones

chosen for discussion are important to an understanding of the geology of the


Choctawhatchee River Valley Lowlands

The Choctawhatchee River Valley Lowlands is the area included in the

eroded valley of the river. In addition to the modern flood plain there

occurs at higher elevations at least two fluvial terraces identifiable by both

the nature of the sediments and by the fluvial escarpments that separate them

from the Western Highlands. In the lower 18 miles of the river, only the

modern flood plain is discernible as the higher fluvial terraces are coin-

cident with the marine terraces of tha Silver Bluff and Pamlico stands of the


The Choctawhatchee River Valley Lowlands are about four-miles wide at the

point where the river enters the county. This includes the modern flood plain

plus the higher fluvial terraces associated with the Silver Bluff and Pamlico

sea levels. Near the mouth of the river only the modern flood plain is shown

and it is about three-miles wide (figure 1).

Pea River Valley Lowlands

The Pea River does not flow within the boundary of Walton County, but its

valley lowlands do extend into the northeast portion of the county. The small

tributaries to the Pea and an earlier higher stage of the river have reduced

the elevation of the northeast corner of the county through erosion. This

area can be seen depicted on the geologic map (figure 2) as the area where

Miocene sediments (Alum Bluff Group Undiff.) are exposed because the overlying

Citronelle sediments have been eroded.

Alaqua Creek River Valley

The Alaqua Creek River Valley Lowlands occur from just south of U. S.

Highway 90 southward to Choctawhatchee Bay. It is a north-south valley in the

south-central portion of the county. Alaqua Creek with its tributaries has

removed the surficial Citronelle sediments and exposed Miocene clastics (Alum

Bluff Undiff.) in a valley that in places is several miles wide. This area is

depicted on the geologic map (figure 2).

Bruce Creek River Valley Lowlands

Bruce Creek, tributary to the Choctawhatchee River, has cut a large

valley through the Citronelle sediments into underlying deposits. It occurs

to the east of Alaqua Creek and joins the Choctawhatchee River Valley

Lowlands. Alaqua Creek, Bruce Creek and the Choctawhatchee River have removed

almost all Citronelle deposits in the southeast quarter of the county.

Shoal River Valley Lowlands

The Shoal River Valley Lowlands encompasses the area along each side of

the Shoal River that have been exposed by erosion of the river. It trends

east-west along the north side of U. S. Highway 90 on the western side of the

county. No recent flood plain or higher fluvial terraces were mapped, but

this lowlands is delineated on the geologic map as the Alum Bluff Group

Undifferentiated mapped along the river course.


There is only one major river in the county from the standpoint of size

that is discussed here. However, there are discussed elsewhere a number of

small streams that through erosion have exposed geologic outcrops that are

important to the understanding and interpretation of the geologic history of

the area.

Choctawhatchee River

The Choctawhatchee River is the largest stream in the county. It heads

up in Barbour County, Alabama, about 50 miles north of the Alabama-Florida

state line, and flows generally in a south-southwesterly direction to its

junction with Choctawhatchee Bay in Walton County. Within Florida it flows

across Holmes County and forms a common boundary with Washington County along

the eastern side of Walton County. The Choctawhatchee is a mature stream

which meanders throughout its broad flood plain. Along its flood plain, which

averages about two miles wide, may be found natural levees and oxbow lakes

(features of a mature stream). The gradient of the river from the state line

to Choctawhatchee Bay is less than 1.5 feet per mile.



Stratigraphic units in the Western Florida Panhandle have been exten-

sively described (Vernon, 1942; Marsh, 1966; Schmidt and Clark, 1980). By

studying cuttings from deep oil tests and numerous water wells, many geologic

formations have been mapped. The deepest unit penetrated in Walton is a gra-

nite, at 14,480 feet below the surface. Above that are several thousand feet

of shales and sandstones of Mesozoic age. Next higher in the section are

about 2,000 feet of clays and calcareous sands. Still higher are one or two

thousand feet of sandy limestones and calcareous glauconitic sands. Nearing

the surface are hundreds of feet of dolomitic limestones, sandy clayey

limestone and finally shell beds, clayey sands and sands. Only the upper

three units, those which are exposed at the surface in Walton County, will be

expanded on here.



The name Alum Bluff beds was used by Dall (1892) to describe the sands

and clays between the Chipola Marl and the upper fossiliferous beds at Alum

Bluff on the Apalachicola River. Since that time numerous authors have rede-

fined and described these "Miocene" sediments. Some of the major contribu-

tions were by Gardner (1926); Cooke and Mossom (1929); Cooke (1945); Puri (1953);

and Puri and Vernon (1964). Huddlestun in 1976 renamed these marine deposits

of the central Florida Panhandle. He included in his Alum Bluff Group five

formations: the Chipola Formation; the Oak Grove Sand; the Shoal River

Formation; the Choctawhatchee Formation; and the Jackson Bluff Formation.

This package of clayey, sandy, shell beds in the central Florida Panhandle

has been predominantly described using biozones, lithofacies, and chronostra-

tigraphic units which are poorly defined and confusing. Recently these

deposits have been mapped as Alum Bluff Group Undifferentiated in the Walton

and Okaloosa counties area (Clark and Schmidt, 1982). This lithologic unit is

the mapped interval recognized in this report.

Definition and Distribution

The Alum Bluff Group sediments extend in a wide band across the Florida

Panhandle from Leon County on the east to Okaloosa County on the west. The

sediments are generally covered by the younger Citronelle Formation; as a

result, exposures are limited to areas where the Citronelle sands have been

removed, mostly stream bluffs and in river valleys.

In Walton County several "classic" outcrops exist, and have been

described in the geologic literature. They include: 1) W. D. McDaniel's farm

east of Red Bay, where 10-12 feet of a blue-gray, clayey, shell bed is exposed

in the western flank of the Choctawhatchee River Valley; 2) the "White Creek

Beds" located just east of the creek on Rt. 280. Here about 15 feet of gray-

to-greenish clayey sands are exposed with occasional molds and casts of

mollusks; 3) C. H. Spence farm southwest of DeFuniak Springs where about 12

feet of gray, sandy clay with abundant mollusks is exposed; 4) A. H. Cosson's

farm near Cosson Mill Creek where at a springhead seven feet of a

greenish-gray, sandy clay with mollusks is exposed; 5) at the old Godwin

Bridge over the Shoal River, where 8-10 feet of the shell beds are visible

and; 6) Shell Bluff about one-half mile east of the Godwin Bridge on the north

side of the Shoal River, which exposes 35-40 feet of slightly fossiliferous,

greenish, sandy clays and sands.

The outcrop pattern can be observed on the geologic map (figure 2). All

exposures occur in stream valleys and bluffs where the overlying sands and

gravels have been removed.

These shells beds of the Alum Bluff Group were deposited in a shallow

water (inner neritic) marine environment. Some locations contain fauna

characteristic of brackish waters whereas other outcrops have representatives

of open sea conditions. This fauna is indicative of shallow water inland bays

often washed by tidal action.

General Lithology

The Alum Bluff Group sediments in the Walton County area are composed of

quartz sands, clays and shell beds. The lithology ranges from a sandy clay or

clayey sand, to a shell marl, to a pure sand or clay. Accessory minerals may

include phosphate, glauconite, various heavy minerals, pyrite and mica. The

clay minerals of the Alum Bluff sediments are dominated by montmorillonite but

also contain minor amounts of kaolinite and illite. The clay beds are usually

gray in color but may be dark gray to black to greenish-gray. Limestone is a

minor component of the Alum Bluff lithology, except where it occurs in discon-

tinuous lenses or beds.

The sediments of the Alum Bluff Group are usually massive-bedded to

coarsely-bedded; fine-bedding, lamination, and cross-bedding usually not being

apparent. Bioturbation is occasionally present and is indicated by

incomplete mixing of sandy and clayey sediments. The Alum Bluff sediments are

often abundantly fossiliferous. The shells and tests of calcareous organisms

are seldom altered or leached and the preservation is often excellent. In the

updip areas shell beds and shelly sands predominate. Downdip the units all

grade into richly microfossiliferous plastic deposits and fossiliferous

limestones. These subsurface time equivalent units (downdip) have been named

the Bruce Creek Limestone and the Intracoastal Formation. The Bruce Creek

does have one known surface outcrop; it is just downstream of the county

road bridge over Bruce Creek in TIN, R18W, north-half of section 2 in Walton

County (Schmidt and Clark, 1980). The Intracoastal Formation is entirely sub-

surface in the Walton County area.

Thickness and Structure

The Alum Bluff Group sediments dip to the southwest in Walton County.

They are highest in elevation in the northeast part of the county, where ele-

vations in excess of 230 feet are encountered. The sediments dip away from

this high area to where they are below minus-50 feet mean sea level (msl) in

the vicinity of Choctawhatchee Bay (See figure 3). This yields a general dip

of about five feet per mile, although it is an uneven surface.

The Alum Bluff sediments rest unconformably on a dolomitic limestone

ranging in age from Oligocene to Middle Miocene. The average thickness deter-

mined from 30 core holes in Walton County is 108 feet.



The Citronelle Formation was named and extensively described by Matson

(1916, p. 167-192) for the red, orange, and yellow, clayey, quartz sand and

gravel deposits that occur from eastern Texas into western Florida. These

deposits were named for the town of Citronelle, Alabama, where the type area

was designated because of excellent exposures of the formation.

Numerous authors have discussed the lithology and age of the Citronelle

Formation. A few of them include: Berry (1916); Doering (1935); Vernon

(1942); MacNeil (1949); Marsh (1966); and Isphording and Lamb (1971).

Definition and Distribution

All surface deposits in the northern two-thirds of Walton County that

occur stratigraphically above the Alum Bluff Group sediments are assigned to

the Citronelle Formation. This includes the interstream divides, but in most

cases not the stream valleys as the Citronelle deposits have been removed by

the eroding streams exposing the Alum Bluff strata.

The southern third of Walton County is veneered by Pleistocene marine

terrace sands which lap up on the edge of the Citronelle deposits. Citronelle

deposits were observed in several quarries near the north edge of

Choctawhatchee Bay where the thin marine terrace cover was breached. Samples

from core holes and water wells near the coast reveal no Citronelle deposits.

Probably early Pleistocene seas eroded the seaward extremities of the


The diverse nature of the Citronelle sediments, both in grain size and

intraformational structure, indicates changing conditions of sedimentation due

to varied directions and velocities of transporting currents. This suggests

they probably were deposited as coalescing fluvial sediments by aggrading

streams in a deltaic and pro-deltaic environment. Also, the lack of fossil

shells suggests that either they were never present or that the aragonite

shells have been removed through leaching by percolating ground water. There

do occur burrows which indicate an estuarine or littoral environment for a por-

tion of these sediments. These data suggest an environment that would be

expected as a delta encroached upon the marine environment.

General Lithology

The Citronelle deposits range from clay through gravel, though sands are

the most common size fraction. There are numerous small quarries throughout

the county where 5-15 feet of the Citronelle may be observed, and not uncom-

monly all size fractions and admixtures thereof are represented in a section

only a few feet thick. The most uniform characteristic is the heterogeneity

of the deposit. The deposits are commonly cross-bedded, lenticular, graveli-

ferous sands containing an occasional thin bed of clay and with varying

amounts of silt and clay as matrix that tend to weakly indurate the sediments.

At no place has bedding been observed that extended more than a few hundred

feet without noticeable changes in thickness and variations in size fractions.

Channel scour and fill sequences are also common.

Though clay is present as massive, thin lenticular beds, it is more common

as matrix throughout the formation. These clays are kaolinite and are more

abundant in the basal portion of the formation. Either percolating ground

water concentrated them toward the base of the formation or clays were a

larger portion of earlier Citronelle deposits. At a few localities gravel-

size white kaolinite balls are common. These are probably derived from thin

beds of intraformational clay that have been broken up by erosion and redepo-

sited during Citronelle time. Also, at some localities coarse sand size to

granule size clay blebs, chips and flecks are common. The blebs and chips

appear to be derived from broken up clay-lined burrows. These burrows, com-

monly found in the Citronelle sediments, are sand-filled tube-like features,

one-two inches in diameter, up to three-five feet long, circular in cross sec-

tion, with a thin (i-inch) kaolinite lining or wall. These are sometimes

branched or bifurcated and have been reported in Citronelle sediments in

Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and in the Florida peninsula. These tubes

are thought to be the burrows of the shrimp Callianassa which lives in a near-

shore environment. Generally, in the area of study the burrows and broken

clay blebs are more common near the base of the formation and may indicate

that the lower Citronelle deposits were formed in a littoral environment as

the Citronelle deltaic sediments encroached on the marine environment.

Quartzite gravels are scattered throughout the formation and they are

abundant locally, usually along bedding planes. Granule-size quartz is more

common than the larger fractions, and this predominance probably is due to the

very weathered nature of the quartzite gravels that causes them to crumble

rather easily even in the hand.

Minor constituents of this formation are sand size muscovite mica flakes,

feldspar granules, and about one percent of sand size heavy minerals (i.e.

ilmenite, rutile, zircon).

The color of the Citronelle deposits is usually a dull yellow-orange with

common reddish mottling on weathered exposures. Where fresh cuts are obser-

vable bands of reds, yellows, lavenders, and purples commonly are randomly

oriented and cut across bedding. At many quarries the upper few feet of the

section is composed of a pale yellow-orange, loose, fine to very coarse,

quartz sand. This sand is a weathered portion of the formation as the contact

is usually gradational with typical Citronelle deposits below. Where surface

wash has eroded and redeposited these loose sands the contact is sometimes


Stratigraphic Relations and Age

The Citronelle deposits rest unconformably upon the underlying Neogene

fine sands and clays throughout their extent in Walton County. Though the

Citronelle sediments blanket the county, the contact with the underlying

clastics can be observed in stream basins and in the cores taken by the

Florida Bureau of Geology at selected localities throughout the county. The

contact of the Citronelle with the overlying Pleistocene terrace sands is

exposed in quarries in the southern portion of the county.

No fossil shells have been found in any of the Citronelle deposits with

which to assign an age of deposition. The burrows of the shrimp Callianassa

is indication of a near-shore environment; however, this type of burrow is

known throughout the Tertiary section, and therefore, it affords no clue to

the age of these sediments. The stratigraphic position of the Citronelle

narrows it from post-Miocene to pre-Late Pleistocene in age.

More importantly in Walton County, the nature of the deposits assigned

to the Late Miocene suggest no increased gradients in the direction of the

source beds (north) as do the Citronelle deposits and, since the glacial

Pleistocene did provide increased gradients with greater stream volumes and

velocities it seems there is better logic in assigning a Pleistocene age to

the Citronelle sediments.


There is only one major river in the county from the standpoint of size

that is discussed here. However, there are discussed elsewhere a number of

small streams that through erosion have exposed geologic outcrops that are

important to the understanding and interpretation of the geologic history of

the area.

Choctawhatchee River

The Choctawhatchee River is the largest stream in the county. It heads

up in Barbour County, Alabama, about 50 miles north of the Alabama-Florida

state line, and flows generally in a south-southwesterly direction to its

junction with Choctawhatchee Bay in Walton County. Within Florida it flows

across Holmes County and forms a common boundary with Washington County along

the eastern side of Walton County. The Choctawhatchee is a mature stream

which meanders throughout its broad flood plain. Along its flood plain, which

averages about two miles wide, may be found natural levees and oxbow lakes

(features of a mature stream). The gradient of the river from the state line

to Choctawhatchee Bay is less than 1.5 feet per mile.



Stratigraphic units in the Western Florida Panhandle have been exten-

sively described (Vernon, 1942; Marsh, 1966; Schmidt and Clark, 1980). By

studying cuttings from deep oil tests and numerous water wells, many geologic

Thickness and Structure

The top of the Citronelle sediments is coincident with the land surface,

and is higly eroded. However, the highest elevation in Florida, 345 feet

above sea level, occurs in the northwest corner of Walton County (SW/4 sec.

30, T6N, R30W). The base of the Citronelle near this location as determined

from cores is at 223 feet elevation, indicating 123 feet of Citronelle. Data

from core holes WW1-4N-20W-2 and WW1-2N-21W-16 indicate 147 and 144 feet of

Citronelle, respectively. At these locations the elevations of the base of the

Citronelle appears to be regionally low when compared to nearby data. This

points out the relief of the surface of the Miocene deposits upon which the

Citronelle sediments were deposited. The tops of the Miocene deposits (Alum

Bluff Group undiff.) were recorded in 30 core holes from throughout the county

as well as in numerous outcrops. Though this is an uneven surface, the

general dip of about five feet per mile in a southwesterly direction is




Overlying most of the mapped and named geologic formations in Florida, is

a sequence of relatively unconsolidated, clean quartz sands. These sands were

deposited during the many Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations, as the shallow

seas eroded, winnowed, and redeposited the existing sediments.

In Walton County most of this sand represents reworked Miocene and

Pliocene deposits, such as the Alum Bluff Group and the Citronelle Formation.

This appears on the geologic cross-sections (figure 3) downdip near the pre-

sent coast. Other locations where this type of lithology is found are along

river valleys where more recent deposition is responsible.

Definition and Distribution

Ancient sea-level fluctuations to varying degrees have left behind

"terraces" and shoreline "scarps" on our present landscape. These marine

features have been mapped by several geologists (MacNeil, 1949; Healy, 1975;

Winker and Howard, 1977) throughout Florida. In Walton County this coastal

wedge of sands thins northward, and seems to pinch out near the 150 foot ele-

vation line, along one of these ancient scarps (see fig. 2).

In addition, late Pleistocene to recent deposition along major river and

stream valleys also represents a significant accumulation of these sands. In

Walton County the Choctawhatchee River valley (fig. 1) in the southeastern

part of the county is the major river system.

General Lithology

The reworked terrace and fluvial sands are predominately an uncon-

solidated body of white to light gray, medium grained quartz sands. Accessory

minerals generally in amounts less than one percent, include various heavy

minerals, mica, and phosphorite. Clay lenses are sometimes encountered,

associated with occasional shell beds. Fossils present (generally near the

present coast) include mollusks, and rare occurrences of foraminifera and

echinoid remains.

Thickness and Structure

These quartz sands reach a maximum thickness of about 100 feet near the

present coast and near the Choctawhatchee Bay area (figure 3). They thin

northward and grade into the clastics of the Citronelle Formation.

Varying thicknesses of recent quartz sands can also be found along many

of the stream valleys. These are not, however, visible on the geologic map

(fig. 2) because their extent is too limited and sporadic to show up at the

scale used.


(This section is summarized from Yon and Hendry, 1969)


The clay deposits in Walton County are of a lenticular nature and are not

traceable very far over horizontal distances. One location was sampled and

tested for its economic potential by Yon and Hendry (1969, p. 73). It was

determined that the clay was satisfactory for making lightweight aggregate.

Other locations were tested by Calver (1949, p. 43, 58) and Yon and Hendry

(1969, p. 36-62) and several types of brick and structure tile grades were

found to be present.

Heavy Minerals

The term heavy mineral is applied to those mineral species that have a

specific gravity greater than quartz. Minerals within this category that

occur in Florida sediments are ilmenite, rutile, zircon, and other numerous

minerals of less quantity and value. Ilmenite (FeTi03) is valuable for its

titanium content. Zircon (ZnSiO4) is valuable for its zirconium content; and

rutile (Ti02) is valuable for its titanium content.

Heavy minerals are present in all of the sediments in Walton County.

However, the surficial deposits along the coastal area offer the most poten-

tial as a source of heavy minerals. It is not uncommon to find large local

concentrations along the present beaches and in the recent sand dunes in the

southern part of Walton County. Though only one specific study was made to

determine the aggregate percentage of heavies in the sands, the tests per-

formed by the U. S. Bureau of Mines on samples submitted for evaluation as a

potential source for glass sand indicate that the titanium content ranges from

0.1 to 0.5 percent. Samples LW1-3S-20W-3 bb were collected from a dune and

contained the 0.5 percent titanium. According to the Bureau of Mines analyses

most of the titanium was concentrated on the minus-140 screen and could be

removed by froth flotation or magnetic separation.

A channel sample was collected from the seaward side of the highest beach

dune at Blue Mountain Beach in southern Walton County. This sample

(LW1-3S-20W-12 cb) was examined for its heavy mineral content, which amounted

to 2.4 percent by weight of the total samples. Those mineral species iden-

tified were ilmenite, rutile, kyanite, zircon, garnet, staurolite, and



The term humate was first used by Swanson and Palacas (1965, p. B1).

They reported that "Layers of dune and beach sand along the north coast of the

Gulf of Mexico are cemented or impregnated with a conspicuous dark-brown to

black water-soluble organic substance herein called humate. The humate-

cemented sand, generally six inches to three-feet thick but as much as 15 feet

in some places, forms one or several irregular layers in the subsurface of

broad land areas at a depth of a few inches to 35 feet. Humate accumulates in

subsurface soil layers, in and beneath marsh deposits, in shore and beach

sands of bayous and bays, commonly near the mouths of tea-colored, tannic acid

laden streams and near ground-water seepages, and as a type of organic sedi-

ment in bodies of brackish or saline water.

Swanson and Palacas (p. B5-B10) list seven varieties of humate-

impregnated or humate-cemented sand, several of which are very similar to or

the same as the hard-pan of local water-well drillers and carbonaceous sand

exposed in banks of canals.

Yon and Hendry (1969) noted three to six-inch layers of humate or hard-

pan exposed at many localities around Choctawhachee Bay, and in the banks of

the Intracoastal Waterway. In southeastern Walton County thicknesses up to

12-15 feet of this material are exposed. Humate was also observed in samples

taken from auger and core holes in southern Walton County.

Swanson and Palacas believe that humate is formed through the leaching of

the decaying plant material on the surface, then surface and subsurface waters

transport this humic substance either to be precipitated in some subsurface

sand or transported elsewhere by natural waters and subsequently deposited.

The geochemistry of humate is extremely complex (Swanson and Palacas, 1965, p.

Bl), and this aspect is not reviewed here. However, the economic significance

of humate is intriguing and a brief statement follows.

The humate-cemented sand in the Choctawhatchee Bay area ranges from less

than one to more than eight percent organic matter with the average com-

position of the extracted humate being 55.0 percent carbon, 4.4 percent hydro-

gen, 38.5 percent oxygen, 1.4 percent nitrogen, and 0.7 percent sulfur

(Swanson and Palacas, 1965, p. 818).

"Humate has the capacity to sorb large amounts of metals..." (Swanson and

Palacas, 1965, p. 827). Swanson, et al. (1966, p. C176) state, "...it is

suggested that the metal-sorption property of the Florida humate may be of

economic use."

The large tonnages available, with the unique characteristic of selec-

tively extracting trace amounts of certain metals, makes humate potentially

suitable for use in the chemical and fertilizer industries.

Swanson, et al. (p. C176-177) further state:

"Simple drying, light crushing, and sieving of the humate-rich

sand produces a powder that is 60 to 75 percent humate. Another

seemingly attractive aspect of the humate is its almost instan-

taneous solubility, for example, in ammonia. Ammonia is widely

applied in liquid form to soils as a nitrogen fertilizer.

Humate is also soluble in a potassium phosphate (K3PO4) solu-

tion, and might also provide the other 2 of the 3 major consti-

tuents of fertilizers-potassium and phosphorous.

"Other possible, but untested, uses of the physically separated

or chemically extracted humate are as a water purifying com-

with some of the higher hills capped with 80 feet of Citronelle.

The Recent sands occurring along the stream valleys probably are of econo-

mic value but are not considered in this report because of the limited distri-

bution of the deposits when compared to the Plio-Pleistocene sands. Reves

(1960), in a report on the mineral resources of Choctawhatchee-Pea River Basin

in Florida and Alabama, reports that commercial sand is being mined from the

Choctawhatchee River in Alabama.

The sands from the Pleistoscene terraces and the recent dunes along the

coast of Walton County were found to range in size from very fine to medium.

These sands, because of their size range, were tested for suitability in the

manufacture of glass.

Four of the samples tested were suitable for use in concrete, as they

will meet A.S.T.M. and Florida State Road Department specifications. Two

samples, LW1-5N-19W-22bb and LW1-5N-21W-29aac approach the necessary

requirements for concrete and would be satisfactory if sand of a coarser frac-

tion (4-8-16 size screens) was added so that the required fineness modulus

could be reached. Sixteen of the samples meet the necessary requirements for

use as abrasives and in mortar. Because of iron coatings none of these sands

are suitable for use as glass sands.

Tests conducted by the U. S. Bureau of Mines indicate that sands in the

southern part of Walton County can be beneficiated to meet specifications for

glass sands. According to Shirley (personal communication, 1968) the sands

will have to be beneficiated to remove the iron and titanium content. Shirley

further states that the tests show the sands carrying most of the iron and

titanium appears to be concentrated on the minus-140 mesh which might suggest

pound, as an additive in well-drilling fluids, as a wood stain

or paint pigment, and as a metal scavenger in a variety of com-

mercial processes."


Limestone of Oligocene age crops out near the Alabama-Florida state line

in the northern part of Walton County along Bridge Creek at Natural Bridge.

A channel sample of limestone was collected by Yon and Hendry (1969) at

Natural Bridge, SEk, SE1, section 26, T6N, R20W, and submitted to the Florida

State Road Department, Division of Materials, Research.and Training, for.

testing. William Wisner, State Road Department, Division of Materials,

Gainesville, (personal communication, October 15, 1968), reported that the

sample from this locality does not meet the State Road Department specifica-

tions for Ocala type limestone because of low carbonate content (90.0%) and

high organic content (1.3%), though it did exhibit good load-bearing charac-



Sand is a name applied to an unconsolidated aggregate of minerals or rock

particles that range in size from 2.0 to 0.062 millimeters (0.078 to 0.002

inches). According to the above definition, sand is a size characteristic and

does not connote mineralogic composition.

In this report the term sand is used as a size range,-bU-t- tltso has a

mineralogic connotation meaning that the sand is predominantly composed of the

mineral quartz. The term "high-silica" sand is used to distinguish those

sands composed of 98 percent or more silica from sands that are less pure

because of either inclusions or iron content.

The grains of sands seen in Walton County are remnants of rocks that ori-

ginally occurred in states to the north of Florida. Over a period of millions

of years through various processes of chemical and physical weathering these

rocks were disintegrated and the resulting smaller sand particles were washed

into the streams by rains. The streams transported the sand to where some was

deposited along streams' flood plains. That portion of the sand not deposited

along the channels finally reached the sea, where it, too, finally came to

rest in the area.

This is not to say that this was the final movement of the sand. Even

today sands in the area are constantly being shifted around by streams and


The Plio-Pleistocene (Citronelle) sands are the most important as a

commercial-sand source because of their wide-spread nature and because they

contain the variation in grain size necessary to meet standard specification

for construction sands.

These Plio-Pleistocene deposits are very fine to very coarse grained,

iron stained, multicolored, clayey quartz sands that are crossbedded and

interbedded with kaolinites. It is not uncommon for the deposits to contain

gravel (grain sizes above 4.5 mm or 0.2 inches). However, the gravel is not

suitable for economic purposes because it is very fractured and crumbly. Data

obtained from core holes drilled in Walton County indicate that in the south-

west part of the county these sediments are in excess of 100 feet thick,

whereas, in the other parts of the county they average 50 feet in thickness

the material could be removed by washing, screening and froth flotation or

magnetic separation.


Berry, E. W., 1916, The Flora of the Citronelle Formation:
Survey Professional Paper 98, p. 193-208.

Calver, James L., 1949, Florida Kaolins and Clays: Florid
Information Circular 2, 59 p.

Clark, Murlene Wiggs and Schmidt, Walter, 1982, Shallow St
Okaloosa County and Vicinity, Florida. Florida B
Report of Investigations 92, 51 p.

U. S. Geological

a Geological Survey,

ratigraphy of
bureau of Geology

Cook, C. Wythe, 1939, Scenery of Florida Interpreted by a Geologist:
Geological Survey Bulletin 17, 118 p.


Cook, C. Wythe, 1945, Geology of Florida:
29, 342 p.

Florida Geological Survey Bulletin

Cook, C. Wythe and Mossom, Stuart, 1929, Geology of Florida:
Geological Survey 20th Annual Report, p. 29-227.


Dall, William Harris and Harris, Gilbert D., 1892, The Neocene of North
America: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 84, 349 p.

Doering, J. A., 1935, Post-Fleming Surface Formations of Southeast Texas and
South Louisiana: American Association Petroleum Geologists Bulletin,
Volume 19, No. 5, p. 651-688.

Fenneman, Nevin, M., 1938, Physiography of the Eastern United States:
McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Gardner, Julia A., 1926, The Molluscan Fauna of the Alum Bluff Group of
Florida: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 142 pts. 1-7.

Healy, H. G., 1975, Terraces and Shorelines of Florida: Florida Bureau of
Geology, Map Series 71.

Huddlestun, Paul F.,

1976, The Neogene Stratigraphy of the Central Florida
Unpublished Dissertation, Florida State University.

Isphording, Wayne C. and Lamb, George M., 1971, Age and Origin of the
Citronelle Formation in Alabama: Geological Society America
Bulletin, Volume 82, No. 3, p. 775-779.

MacNeil, F. S., 1949, Pleistocene Shorelines in Florida and Georgia:
Geological Survey Professional Paper 221-F, p. 95-107.

U. S.

Marsh, Owen T., 1966, Geology of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Western
Florida Panhandle: Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 46, 140 p.

Matson, G. C., 1916, The Pliocene Citronelle Formation of the Gulf Coastal
Plain: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 98, p. 167-192.

Purl, Harbans S., 1953, Contribution to the Study of the Miocene of the
Florida Pahhandle: Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 36, 345 p.

Puri, Harbans S. and Vernon, Robert 0., 1964, Summary of the Geology of
Florida and a Guidebook to the Classic Exposures: Florida Geological
Survey Special Publication 5 revised, 312 p.

Reves, W. 0., 1960, Mineral Resources of Choctawhatchee-Pea River Basin in
Florida and Alabama: Florida Geological Survey Open File Report, 28 p.

Schmidt, Walter and Clark, Murlene Wiggs, 1980, Geology of Bay County,
Florida: Florida Bureau of Geology Bulletin 57, 96 p.

Sellards, E. H. and Gunter, H., 1918, Geology Between the Apalachicola and
Ocklocknee Rivers in Florida: Florida Geological Survey Tenth Annual
Report, p. 9-56.
Swanson, V. E. and Palacas, J. G., 1965, The Distribution and Probable Origin
of Water-Soluble Organic Material in Shallow Subsurface Sands of the
Florida Panhandle: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1214-13,
p. 131-132

Swanson, V. E., Frost, I. C., Rader, L. F. Jr., and Huffman, C. Jr., 1966,
Metal Sorption by Northwest Florida Humate: U. S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 550-C, p. C174-177.
Vernon, Robert 0., 1942, Geology of Holmes and Washington Counties, Florida:
Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 21, 161 p.

Vernon, Robert 0., 1951, Geology of Citrus and Levy Counties, Florida:
Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 33, 256 p.

Winker, Charles D. and Howard, James 0., 1977, Correlation of Tectonically
Deformed Shorelines on the South Atlantic Coastal Plain: Geology,
Volume 5, p. 123-127.

Yon, J. William Jr. and Hendry, C. W. Jr., 1969, Mineral Resource Study of
Holmes, Walton, and Washington Counties: Florida Bureau of Geology
Bulletin 50, 161 p.

Physiographic divisions in Walton County.

Geologic Map of Walton County. Modified from an unpublished map
prepared by Hendry, C. W. Jr., and Yon, J. W. Jr., Florida
Geological Survey.

Geologic Cross Sections Through Walton County.



Figure 3.



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