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FLRD GEOLOSk ( IC SUfRiW
[year of publication as printed] Florida Geological Survey [source text]
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State of Florida
Department of Natural Resources
Elton J. Gissendanner, Executive Director
Division of Resource Management
Art Wilde, Director
Florida Geological Survey
Walter Schmidt, Chief
Open File Report 12
Geology and Groundwater of Madison County
Ronald W. Hoenstine and Steven M. Spencer
Florida Geological Survey
3 1262 04543 6325
GEOLOGY AND GROUNDWATER OF MADISON COUNTY
By Ronald W. Hoenstine and Steven M. Spencer
Florida Geological Survey
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
Located in the eastern part of the Florida panhandle, Madison County
encompasses a transitional geologic area that separates the thick Tertiary
carbonate sediments characteristic of the Florida peninsula from the pre-
dominant age equivalent plastic sediments of western Florida. This area is
underlain by thick limestone deposits of Oligocene and Eocene age which in
turn are covered by younger limestones, dolomites, sands and clays in the
northern half of the county.
Two major physiographic divisions occur within Madison County. As
proposed by Purl and Vernon (1964), these divisions include the Northern
Highlands and the Coastal Lowlands (figure 1). The Northern Highlands
extend over the northern two-thirds of the county while the Coastal Lowlands
occupy the remaining third of Madison County.
The boundary between these two divisions occurs at a southward-facing
escarpment named the Cody Scarp (Puri and Vernon, 1964). This escarpment
is considered to be one of the most persistent topographic breaks in Florida.
Easily observed to the west in Jefferson County, the trend of the Cody Scarp
in Madison County is irregular and frequently difficult to observe.
However, a series of N-S surface elevation profiles shows a distinct break
at the 100' contour. This 100' elevation, which was used by Crane, 1983
and Cooke, 1939, is also used in this report to define the Cody Scarp in
Florida Bureau of Geology Library
903 W. Tennessee St.
Tallahassee, FL 32304
Extending over parts of several counties in Florida and Georgia the
Northern Highlands in Madison County includes all of the area north of the
Cody Scarp (figure 1). This physiographic region includes a prominent phy-
siographic feature known as the Tallahassee Hills, which in the study area
lies between the Florida-Georgia state line on the north and the Gulf
Coastal Lowlands on the'south (figure 1). The Tallahassee Hills are
erosional-remnant hills and ridges with elevations as high as 230 feet in
Madison County. Occurring extensively throughout the northern two-thirds
of Madison County, these hills and ridges are characterized by gently slo-
pes and rounded tops. Although the Tallahassee Hills in this area have
been highly dissected by stream erosion and subsurface solution, they pro-
bably once represented a nearly flat Miocene delta plain that covered all
of northern Madison County.
With markedly lower elevations, the other major physiographic region,
the Gulf Coastal Lowlands occurs in Madison County in an area bounded to
the north by the Cody Scarp and south by the Taylor and Lafayette county
lines. Features located, within the Gulf Coastal Lowlands include the
Wicomico Terrace, which coincides with the top of the Cody Scarp in Madison
County, occurring at the 100 feet elevation, San Pedro Bay and the River
Valley Lowlands associated with the Suwannee, Withlacoochee and Aucilla
rivers. Numerous tributaries in the form of small streams and creeks that
originate in the adjoining Tallahassee Hills flow into these rivers.
Although extending into the Northern Highlands, these river valley lowlands
are placed in the Gulf Coastal Lowland province on the basis of their
lowest elevation (Ceryak, et al., 1983).
The sediments that occur in Madison County range in age from Paleozoic
to Recent. To date, the deepest penetration of subsurface sediments in the
I I II -
study area occurred at a depth of 10,150 feet (MSL). These sediments ob-
tained from n .oil test well (P-1033) were identified as Paleozoic quart-
zitic sandstones deposited hundreds of millions of years ago. In contrast,
surface and near-surface occurrences include unconsolidated sands,
limestone and highly indurated dolomites ranging in age from the Eocene
Epoch (36 to 58 million years ago) to the Recent. The oldest surface
outcrops are dolomite and limestone belonging to the Eocene Epoch (40 to 38
million years ago). A short geologic discussion of the near-surface and
surface sediments follows.
The Ocala Group Limestones, which were deposited during the Eocene
Epoch (40 to 38 million years ago), represent the oldest sediments exposed
in Madison County. These limestones, which form an integral part of the
Floridan Aquifer, occur at varying depths throughout the county. The Ocala
Group Limestone is generally a pale orange, poor to moderately indurated,
moderately to high porous, microfossiliferous, partially dolomitized, par-
tially recrystallized limestone (calcarenite). The occurrence of the
distinctive foraminifera genera Lepidocyclina is common to abundant and
often used as a guide in distinguishing this formation from the overlying
younger Suwannee Formation.
Unfortunately, few wells in Madison County penetrate these sediments.
However, in the vicinity of the City of Madison, the top of the Ocala was
found to occur at -100 feet (MSL). Varying in thickness throughout the
county, it was present in the interval from 200 to 385 feet below land sur-
face, a thickness of 185 feet in a well (W-2549) near the City of Madison.
These sediments are unconformably underlain by the Avon Park Limestone and
overlain unconformably by the Oligocene age Suwannee Limestone.
Exposures of limestone and dolomites belonging to the Suwannee
Limestone Formation, that was deposited during the Oligocene Epoch, occur
along the Suwannee River at Ellaville. The Suwannee Limestone lies uncon-
formably upon the Ocala group limestone and unconformably underlies the St.
Marks or Hawthorn Formation. Where the St. Marks and Hawthorn Formation
are absent, it underlies the younger Miccosukee Formation. In parts of
southern and southeastern Madison County, the Suwannee is covered by
Pleistocene deposits and scattered outliers of the Hawthorn Formation.
The Suwannee Formation is a marine limestone consisting of a partially
recrystallized limestone (calcarenite). It is very pale orange, finely
crystalline, moderate to well indurated, with moderate to good porosity and
very fossiliferous. Chemical tests indicate a composition that is nearly
97 percent CaCO3.
In various locations such as along the Suwannee River at Ellaville,
the top of the formation is silicified at the land surface and near subsur-
face. It has been observed from well cuttings that dolomitization of the
limestone has occurred in the subsurface at different depths. This process
of secondary dolomitization can also be readily observed in the outcrop
area along the Aucilla River.
Measurements of the formation's thickness are approximated because most
of the information available is from wells that terminate in the Suwannee.
The maximum thickness encountered in a core was in W-15515 located in T2N,
R8E, Sec. 5 ca, in which 157 feet of limestone was penetrated. Fossili-
ferous outcrops of this formation can be observed along the Suwannee River
from White Springs to Ellaville.
The Suwannee Limestone, in many areas, is covered by a thin veneer of
The Hawthorn Formation consists of pale olive to moderate yellow,
sandy, waxey, phosphatic clays and sands. The clay contains phosphorite
grains and is interbedded with very fine to medium, clayey quartz sands
that also contain phosphorite. The clays and sands are frequently cherty
and often associated with stringers of sandy calcilutites.
Variable in thickness, the Hawthorn Formation was observed to pinch
out to the east and southeast of Madison County along the Suwannee River.
In contrast, Hawthorn sediments on the western side of Madison County are
significantly thicker. The thickest section of Hawthorn deposits observed,
occurred in a core (W-6558) near State Road 90 where a thickness of 142
feet was encountered. Surface outcrops of Hawthorn sediments occur on the
eastern side of the county along the Withlacoochee River.
In southeastern Madison, northeastern Taylor and northwestern Lafayette
counties, Hawthorn clays underlie a broad low area known as San Pedro Bay.
These clays inhibit the downward percolation of water resulting in exten-
sive swampy conditions throughout the area.
The Hawthorn Formation lies unconformably upon either the St. Marks
Formation or the Suwannee Limestone. It is in turn overlain by the Micco-
sukee Formation or, where absent, by Pleistocene sands.
A prominent feature throughout the county is the varicolored, hetero-
geneous complex of sediments referred to as the Miccosukee Formation.
Overlying the Hawthorn Formation, the Miccosukee Formation is generally
Pleistocene sand. However, from just below Lamont to just north of Nutall
Rise, it is almost continually exposed along the banks of the Aucilla River
either as siliclfied boulders or as massive dolomite beds. Both the dolo-
mite beds and the silicified boulders often form rapids along the river.
ST. MARKS FORMATION
Early Miocene sediments unconformably overlie the Suwannee Limestone
in many parts of Madison County. These sediments, which form the St. Marks
Formation, are white to very pale orange, finely crystalline, sandy, silty,
clayey limestone (calcilutite). The St. Marks is poor to well indurated,
has low to medium porosity, contains molluscan casts and a few species of
foraminifera (Sorites sp., Archalas floridanus). The calcilutite has been
partially dolomitized and silicified in the subsurface. In a sinkhole in
Lee, Florida, the St. Marks occurs as a partially recrystallized limestone
In contrast to the underlying Suwannee Limestone, the St. Marks sedi-
ments do not occur in all parts of Madison County but have sporadic occur-
rences (cross sections A-A',B-8' and C-C', figures 2, 3 and 4). St. Marks
outcrops are rare as the greater part of the deposits are covered by
younger sediments. The only exposure observed in Madison County occurs in
a sinkhole, behind the Methodist Church in Lee, Florida.
The cross sections in figures 2, 3 and 4 show the variability of the
St. Marks throughout the study area. Sediment thickness varies from very
thin to absent in the central part of the county to a maximum observed
thickness of 39feet in a core (W-15537) drilled in north central Madison
County In an area west of Cherry Lake.
Overlying the St. Marks Formation are the younger Miocene sediments
known as the Hawthorn Formation. These sediments are present in the sub-
surface over most of Madison County.
present in Madison County except in the south and southeastern parts of the
The Miccosukee is an aggregate of lenticular clayey sands and clay
beds which individually can be traced laterally for only short distances.
These sediments are moderately sorted to poorly sorted, coarse to fine-
grained, varicolored, clayey, quartz sand and montmorillonitic, kaolinitic,
varicolored, sandy clays. The frequently crossbedded sands contained
crossbedded thin laminae of white to light gray clay. X-ray diffraction
patterns indicate that the laminae associated with both quartz sands is
The Miccosukee sediments are in many places deeply weathered laterites.
Having experienced intense weathering, the bedding that was once present
has been destroyed, giving exposed sediments a massive appearance. The
Miccosukee is extremely variable in thickness, a condition attributed in
part to extensive weathering and associated erosion. A maximum thickness
of 80 feet was encountered in the west central part of the county in core
(W-6558), suggesting that the top of some of the highest hills may repre-
sent the original depositional surface. Similar thicknesses were observed
in well cuttings In the same general area along State Road 90.
The formation can be observed in numerous roadcuts throughout the
northern part of the county. The type locality of this formation can be
seen at a roadcut on the east side of U. S. Highway 19, about 3.1 miles
south of the Georgia-Florida State line in neighboring Jefferson County.
The sediments in this section illustrate rapid sedimentation changes in-
cluding channel cut and fill features of a deltaic environment.
PLIOCENE/PLEISTOCENE TO RECENT SEDIMENTS
Surficial sediments of Pliocene/Pleistocene age form much of the land
surface in the south and southeastern part of the county. Less widespread
sediments of Recent age are confined primarily to the present stream
The Pliocene/Pleistocene deposits forming the Gulf Coastal Lowlands
south of the Cody Sharp are very fine to medium quartz sands with blue-
green to light olive, montmorillonitic clay lenses. The Recent sediments
are essentially reworked Pleistocene quartz sands and quartz sands derived
from the Miccosukee Formation.
The Pleistocene deposits range in thickness from a feather edge: in the.
southeastern part of the county to 35 feet in well (W-705) which is located
5 miles southeast of the town of Lamont at the toe of the Cody Scarp.
These sediments are extremely variable in thickness throughout southern
Madison County and essentially absent in the northern part of the county.
These sediments unconformably overlie the St. Marks Formation and the
Suwannee Limestone in the southern part of the county.
From the beginning of Late Cretaceous until early Middle Eocene, Madi-
son County was an area of plastic deposition. However, changes in the
depositlonal environment occurred at the beginning of the early Middle
Eocene resulting in carbonates becoming the dominant sediment.
It was during this time that the Middle Eocene, Lake City Limestone,
the Eocene Ocala Group limestone and the Oligocene Suwannee Limestone were
deposited. These limestone formations were deposited in a warm, shallow,
At the close of the Oligocene Epoch, a period of predominantly plastic
sedimentation took place. Later, the St. Marks Formation was deposited by
encroaching Early Miocene seas.
An influx of plastic sediments generally masked carbonate deposition
during the Middle Miocene. It was at this time that the Hawthorn Formation
consisting primarily of phosphatic sands and clays, was being deposited.
At the cessation of Hawthorn deposition, the predominantly marine environ-
ment changed to a deltaic environment. The Miccosukee deposits forming
this delta complex are widespread, covering parts of Madison, Jefferson,
Leon and Gadsden counties. The age of these deposits has been established,
at least in part, as Late Miocene on the basis of land mammals found in
The beginning of the Pleistocene Epoch saw the return of the seas over
much of Madison County resulting in the formation of the Gulf Coastal Low-
lands in the southern part of the county. It was during this time that the
Aucilla River in addition to many of the creeks were formed. Other changes
included the erosion and subsequent removal of most of the St. Marks For-
mation from the Gulf Coastal Lowlands.
Sea level has been fairly stationary since the beginning of the Recent
Epoch. Deposition presently occurring in Madison County is restricted to
alluvium along the many streams and peat and mud in the lakes and coastal
The Floridan Aquifer is the principal water-bearing unit in Madison
County. It includes all of the Middle Eocene to Early Miocene formations.
Intermediate aquifers are present in northern Madison County. These
aquifers occur within discontinuous units of limestone, dolomite and sand
that form the Hawthorn Formation. Although the amount of water obtained
from the intermediate aquifers are minimal compared to the underlying
Floridan Aquifer it may be sufficient for small domestic supplies. In
addition, the quality of water in the intermediate aquifer is diminished
relative to the Floridan by the presence of more dissolved solids.
Other sources of water include water table aquifers that occur within
the surficial sand deposits at higher elevations. These aquifers receive
recharge primarily from rainfall or through upward percolation of under-
lying aquifers when their potentiometric surfaces are higher than that of
the water table. Water quality in these aquifers is diminished due to the
high concentration of iron.
Ceryak, R., M. S. Knapp, and.T. Burnson, 1983, Florida Bureau of Geology
in cooperation with the Suwannee River Water Managemen District, The
Geology and Water Resources of the Upper Suwannee River Basin,
Florida: Florida Bureau of Geology, RI 87.
Crane, J-, J., 1983, An Investigation of the Geology, Hydrogeology and Hydro-
chemistry of the Lower Suwannee River Basin: Florida Bureau of Geology,
Cooke, C. W., 1939, Scenery of Florida Interpreted by a Geologist: Florida
Geological Survey, Bull. 17.
Pressler, E. D., 1947, Geology and Occurrence of Oil in Florida: Am. Assoc.
Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 31, pp. 1851-1862.
Puri, H. S. and Vernon, R. 0., 1964, Summary of the Geology of Florida and
a Guidebook to the Classic Exposures: Florida Geological Survey Spe-
cial Publication 5 Revised.
Vernon, R. 0., 1951, Geology of Citrus and Levy Counties, Florida: Florida
Geological Survey, Bull. 33.
Yon, J. W., 1966, Geology of Jefferson County, Florida: Florida Geological
Survey, Bull. 48.
CD F- i
S GULF COASTAL LOWLANDS
200 W15515 ELEV. 185
E LEV. 170 T3N R9E S32
T2N ROE S5
MICCOSUKEE FM. ELEV. 130'
50 W10480 T3N RI0E S33
S4, ELEV.83 W13989
S T3N ROE Lo120 ELEV. 100 +
T2N R10i S1
10 CL A STM-.
200 WESTtoEAST CROSSSECTION A -' CGORGIA
B TIN R6E S16
ELEV 143.5 ELEV. 1 *-
TIN RAE S33 ri N RE 34
"GAMMA RAY LOG"
ELEV 110 *
TIS R7E S33
WEST toEAST CROSSSECTION -B'
I LI V b '
; H I i i tv
10.75 M es aprox
T2N R8E S5
T2N RBE 522
TIN R9E S21
TIN H9h 534
E LEV. 97
T1S R9E S25
NORTH WEST to SOUTH EAST CROSS SECTION C C'
T2S R101 527