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STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Michael W. Sole, Secretary
LAND AND RECREATION
Robert G. Ballard, Deputy Secretary
FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Jon Arthur, State Geologist and Director
OPEN FILE REPORT 95
GEOLOGY OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, FLORIDA
Frank R. Rupert and Guy H. Means
FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
The Geology of Washington County, Florida
Frank Rupert (PG #149) and Guy H. Means, Florida Geological Survey
The following is an overview of the geology of Washington County, Florida. Included
are sections on: 1) geomorphology, describing the shape and origin of the land surface, 2)
stratigraphy, describing the underlying rock strata, 3) ground water, providing an overview of
the aquifer systems in Washington County, and 4) mineral resources present in the county.
The modern land surface of Washington County is a product of prehistoric fluvial and
marine deposition during periods when sea level was higher than present. Subsequent
erosion by marine currents and waves, as well as later down-cutting by freshwater streams,
superimposed both relict marine features, in the form of terraces, and incised stream valleys
and ravines on the older sediments. Rainwater runoff, draining into adjacent stream valleys,
gradually shaped the highlands into the rolling hills characterizing much of the county today.
Additionally, dissolution of the shallow underlying carbonate rock units resulted in the
formation of sinkholes, caves and underground drainage. Washington County may be
subdivided into a series of geomorphic provinces based on both the elevation and shape of the
land surface. Figure 1 is a geomorphic map of Washington County.
Scott and Paul (in preparation) recognize three broad geomorphic districts within
Washington County the Southern Pine Hills District, the Dougherty Karst Plain District,
and the Apalachicola Delta District. These three regions are, in turn, comprised of seven
smaller geomorphic provinces.
Southern Pine Hills District
The Southern Pine Hills District is a broad, southward-sloping, stream dissected plain
extending southward out of Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico shoreline (Scott and Paul, in
preparation). It spans the Florida panhandle from the western state boundary eastward to
westernmost Washington County. The district is developed on Miocene estuarine sediments,
Pliocene Citronelle Formation siliciclastics, and younger marine and fluvial sediments. In
Washington County, the district is comprised of the Western Highlands and the Gulf
Coastal Lowlands geomorphic provinces.
The Western Highlands are a series of rolling, stream-dissected hills formed primarily on
the Citronelle Formation siliciclastic sediments. They extend a short distance into western
Washington County across the Choctawhatchee River valley (Figure 1). The rolling
topography of the highlands is the result of stream erosion of an extensive Pliocene river delta
thought to have extended over much of the Florida panhandle. The Western Highlands are
separated from the Gulf Coastal Lowlands to the south by an indistinct marine scarp. They
are bordered on the east by the De Funiak-Bonifay Karst Hills and the Vernon Karst Hills.
Elevations of the Western Highlands within Washington County typically range from 25 to 40
feet above mean sea level (MSL).
Key to geomorphic zones
1 FuIke Deltas, Marianna
SDe Funiak-Bonifay '1 Coastal Lowlands High Leve Deltasarst
Karst Hills and River Terraces Plain
Western Highlands Veon Karst Hills CompasLake
Figure 1. Geomorphic map of Washington County (from Scott and Paul, in preparation).
Gulf Coastal Lowlands
The Gulf Coastal Lowlands fringe the Gulf of Mexico shoreline from the Alabama-Florida
state line eastward into Bay County. They form a flat-to-gently-rolling band between the
coastline and the Western Highlands to the north. The transition from the elevationally-
higher Western Highlands to the lowlands is commonly marked by an indistinct marine
escarpment, with a base at approximately 25 feet above MSL. In Washington County, the
lowlands occupy the extreme southwestern tip of the county. Elevations within the coastal
lowlands in the county range from about 20 to 25 feet above MSL. Undifferentiated
Pleistocene and Holocene siliciclastic sediments and alluvium, possibly including reworked
Citronelle Formation, underlie the Gulf Coastal Lowlands in Washington County (Scott and
Paul, in preparation).
Dougherty Karst Plain District
The Dougherty Karst Plain District occupies a portion of the central Florida panhandle,
including most of Washington County. It is comprised of a flat-to-gently-rolling,
southwestward sloping plain generally characterized by karst terrain. Karst terrain in
Florida is underlain by soluble limestone and dolostone, and commonly contains solution
landforms such as sinkholes, closed depressions, subterranean drainage and caves dissolved in
the bedrock by slightly-acidic groundwater.
A local structural feature named the Chattahoochee "anticline" forms a structurally stable
high in the subsurface to the northeast of Washington County. Soluble Eocene to Miocene
carbonates occur near or at the surface over this feature, and dip away to the southwest off its
flank. As a result, this feature has been a significant influence in the development of karst
landscape in Washington County.
The four geomorphic provinces of this district are all present in Washington County: the
De Funiak Springs-Bonifay Karst Hills, the Marianna Karst Plain, the Compass Lake Karst
Hills, and the Vernon Karst Hills. All have been shaped by dissolution of the underlying
carbonate bedrock and erosion by surface streams. Each is designated based primarily on
differing characteristics of the karstic landscape.
De Funiak Springs-Bonifay Karst Hills
The De Funiak Springs-Bonifay Karst Hills province occupies the northwestern portion
of Washington County. The landscape is comprised of hilly terrain similar to that of the
Southern Pine Hills, but it contains sinkholes and other solution features that generally
increase in number eastward in the province. Miocene and Pliocene siliciclastic sediments
overlie soluble carbonate bedrock throughout the karst hills. Elevations range from about
25 feet above MSL at the southernmost end of the province to nearly 150 feet above MSL on
the higher hilltops in the northern portion of the province. The southern and eastern
boundaries of the province are delineated by the valley of Holmes Creek.
Marianna Karst Plain
The Marianna Karst Plain occurs in northeastern-most Washington County, from where
it extends northward into adjacent Jackson County. The land surface is gently rolling to
relatively flat with numerous shallow sinkholes and caves. The province reflects the shoaling
of soluble carbonate rocks over the southern flank of the Chattahoochee anticline. It has been
heavily influenced by fluvial erosion and dissolution in the underlying carbonate bedrock.
Elevations in the Marianna Karst Plain in Washington County typically range between about
60 feet above MSL in the western and northern portion to nearly 170 feet above MSL on the
higher hilltops in the eastern portion. Eocene, Oligocene and Miocene carbonates occur at or
near the surface throughout the Marianna Karst Plain. The province is bounded on the south
by the Compass Lake Karst Hills.
Compass Lake Karst Hills
The Compass Lake Karst Hills occupy east-central Washington County, south of the
Marianna Karst Plain. They comprise an area of rolling hills underlain by shallow carbonates
mantled with siliciclastic Alum Bluff and Citronelle Formation sediments. The karst hills
contain some the highest elevations in Washington County. Land surface elevations range
from about 50 feet above MSL near Holmes Creek on the west to almost 300 feet above MSL
near the eastern county line. The higher hill tops may, in part, reflect the pre-erosional
elevation of the delta plain thought to have covered the area in the Pliocene. Karst features
are present throughout the province, but are less common in the western portion of the karst
hills and become more common to the east and north toward the Marianna Karst Plain.
Vernon Karst Hills
The Vernon Karst Hills province occupies a broad area of central and southern
Washington County. The region is characterized by rolling hills, commonly pocked with small
sinkholes, interspersed flat, plain-like karst valleys, and a series of larger, well-defined
sinkhole lakes in the southern portion. Elevations in this province range from about 20 feet
above MSL in the southwestern part of the zone to about 200 feet above MSL on the higher
hills south of the town of Vernon.
Among the most notable features of the Vernon Karst Hills are the large sinkholes dotting
the landscape in the southern part of the province, some of which contain large lakes. Several
of the individual sinkhole lakes are nearly one-half mile in diameter. Some of the larger lakes
formed by coalesced sinks reach a mile and a half in their longest dimension. The sinkholes
present in the Vernon Karst Hills are also significantly deeper and steeper-sided than other
parts of the county (Scott and Paul, in preparation). The underlying carbonate bedrock is
covered by Alum Bluff Group siliciclastics and Citronelle Formation sediments, which
commonly cap the hills in the region.
Apalachicola Delta District
The Apalachicola Delta District comprises just the southeastern-most corner of
Washington County (Scott and Paul, in preparation). The Econfina River forms the boundary
between this district and the adjacent Vernon and Compass Lake Karst Hills provinces on the
west and northwest. In its full extent the district extends from central Bay and southeastern
Washington Counties eastward to the western one-third of Wakulla County. The southern
terminus of the delta district includes the barrier island complex developed along the Gulf
coast. Within Washington County the district has one province, the High Level Deltas and
High Level Deltas and River Terraces
In Washington County this province is generally characterized by well-drained, gently-
rolling topography. Deltaic Citronelle Formation sediments form the local hills. Elevations
range from about 40 feet above MSL near the Econfina River, in the southern portion of the
zone, up to about 155 feet above MSL on the higher hills along the eastern Washington-Bay
An integral part of the present-day geomorphology of Washington County is a series of
relict marine terraces. These terraces are step-like surfaces of erosion and deposition
representing prehistoric sea bottoms developed by advances and retreats of the sea since the
Miocene Epoch. In many areas of Florida they have been extensively modified by karst
dissolution in the underlying carbonate bedrock as well as fluvial erosion. Healy (1975)
recognizes six marine terraces based on elevation in Washington County. In order of
descending elevation (and age), these shorelines are the Hazelhurst, the Coharie, the
Sunderland-Okefenokee, the Wicomico, the Penholoway, and the Pamlico Terraces.
The Hazelhurst Terrace (Cooke, 1939) comprises the higher hilltops in the eastern and
northeastern parts of the county. Lower limits of the Hazelhurst occur at approximately 220
feet above MSL; the upper limits in Washington County occur at approximately 300 feet above
MSL elevation. The Coharie Terrace comprises the land surface areas delineated by the 170
to 220 feet above MSL contour lines. In Washington County, this terrace occurs in small areas
of the northeastern, east-central, and southeastern parts of the county. As used in this report,
the Sunderland Terrace lies between 100 and 170 feet MSL; it occupies extensive areas of
northwestern, eastern and southern sections of Washington County. The Wicomico Terrace
occurs in narrow band bordering the northern and southern portions of the Holmes Creek
valley and its major tributaries. Similarly, the Penholoway Terrace occurs in bands
corresponding to the 42 to 70 feet above MSL elevations in the Holmes Creek and
Choctawhatchee River valleys. The youngest terrace, the Pamlico, lies at elevations of
approximately 8-25 feet above MSL; it occupies most of the southern part of the
Choctawhatchee River valley (Healy, 1975).
Washington County is underlain by a thick sequence of marine carbonates and
siliciclastics. The oldest rocks in the county were penetrated by an exploratory oil well
drilled to over 14,000 feet deep. These rocks typically consist of Upper Triassic (230-200
million years old) red, purple and gray sandstones, siltstones and shales (Applegate et al.,
The oldest rocks that occur at or near the land surface in Washington County belong to
the Ocala Limestone of Upper Eocene age. These rocks are marine in origin and occur in
the northwestern corner of the county along the Choctawhatchee River. The youngest rocks
in the county are Holocene in age and consist of recently deposited sands and clays that
occur primarily in river floodplains. Most fresh water and mineral resources in Washington
County occur within Eocene Epoch and younger rocks and the following discussion of the
stratigraphy is limited to the these units. Figure 2 is a geologic map of the county and shows
the distribution of mapped geologic units within twenty feet of the surface. Figures 3 and 4
are geologic cross sections through the county.
& JACKSON CO.
Cross section location
D Quaternary alluvium
Alum Bluff Group
Chattahoochee Fm. | Ocala Limestone
Figure 2. Geologic map of Washington County (modified from Green et al., 2002 and Scott
et al., 2001).
The Ocala Limestone (Dall and Harris, 1892) underlies the entire county. It consists of
a cream-to-white color, poorly-to-moderately indurated limestone. Occasionally this
formation can be dolomitized, but it is primarily limestone comprised of marine fossils that
include foraminifera, mollusks and echinoids. Weathered portions of the unit may be
-20 T0 233
rtal exaggeration is mpproximtely 200 times true scale.
0 1 2 3 4 5
0 2 4 6 8
Figure 3. Geologic cross section A A'.
NORTH di SOUTH
C H a .,, c. I'l
Vertical exaggeration is approximately 200 time true scale.
0 1 2 3 4 5
0 2 4 6 8
Figure 4. Geologic cross section B B'.
Aum Buf Gmup
ar ne e
silicified. The formation gently dips to the southwest and occurs at or near the surface in
the northwest (Green et al, 2002) and possibly the northeast (Vernon, 1942) corner of the
county. The Ocala Limestone ranges from 200 feet thick in the northwestern part of the
county to 400 feet thick in the southwestern portion of the county (Miller, 1986). The Ocala
Limestone is unconformably overlain by the Marianna Limestone or undifferentiated
Bridgeboro/Marianna Limestones in the central and southern portions of Washington
County, and is unconformably overlain by Alum Bluff Group sediments in the northern-
most portion of the county. The Ocala Limestone is considered to be part of the Floridan
aquifer system in Washington County.
Bridgeboro Limestone, Marianna Limestone, and Suwannee Limestone
The Oligocene Series sediments that occur in Washington County are difficult to
distinguish on a strict lithologic basis. These deposits unconformably overlie the Ocala
Limestone in the county. They consist of marine limestones and dolostones with differing
The Marianna Limestone (Matson and Clapp, 1909) occurs at or near the surface in
the northeastern portion of Washington County. Green et al. (2002) cite a good exposure of
the unit at the Trawick Quarry southwest of Chipley. The Marianna Limestone ranges
incolor from white to cream to light gray. It is a soft, chalky, fine grained, poorly indurated
limestone, typically containing abundant foraminifera. In the subsurface, the Marianna
Limestone is commonly dolomitized and devoid of fossils.
The Bridgeboro Limestone (Huddlestun, 1981; Manker and Carter, 1987) is typically
a white to yellow, fossiliferous, marine limestone. It contains diagnostic fossils including
red algae and rhodoliths, which are rounded clasts created by wave action and algae. Green
et al. (2002) mapped Bridgeboro Limestone in the northeast portion of the county and
indicate that this unit conformably overlies the Marianna Limestone in several cores and
quarries. A good exposure of Bridgeboro Limestone may be seen in the Trawick Quarry
(Green et al., 2002). The thickness of the Bridgeboro can reach up to 31 feet.
The use of the name Suwannee Limestone (Cooke and Mansfield, 1936) to describe
Oligocene sediments in Washington County is problematic. The Suwannee Limestone was
originally identified in this region of the Florida panhandle by utilizing mollusk fossils
(Mansfield, 1938, 1940; Cooke, 1939). Vernon (1942) suggested that this correlation may be
questionable because of the poor preservation of these fossils, and he defined the Suwannee
Limestone in Holmes and Washington Counties, as "all limestone beds lying below the
Tampa (Chattahoochee Formation) and above definite Marianna Limestone". The
stratigraphic unit which Cooke, Mansfield and Vernon referred to as the Suwannee
Limestone has been mapped by previous investigators under many different names (Reves,
1961). After extensive field work and further analyses of cores and cuttings, Green et al.
(2002) concluded the unit mapped as Suwannee Limestone by previous authors is likely
either Bridgeboro Limestone or undifferentiated Marianna/Bridgeboro Limestone. The
latter convention is used in the cross sections.
The entire Oligocene section is variable in thickness across the county. Green et al.
(2002) place the top of the Marianna/Bridgeboro Limestone in a range from approximately
75 feet above MSL to 30 feet below MSL, with the unit attaining a maximum thickness of
250 feet in a well in the southeastern part of the county; these authors place the top of the
Bridgeboro Limestone between 125 feet and 95 feet above MSL in northeastern Washington
County, where the unit reaches a maximum observed thickness of 31 feet. The Oligocene
sediments comprise part of the Floridan aquifer system in the region.
Chattahoochee Formation, Bruce Creek Limestone and Alum Bluff Group, undifferentiated
The Miocene series sediments unconformably overlie the Oligocene Series sediments in
Washington County. These sediments consist of the Lower Miocene Chattahoochee
Formation, the Middle Miocene Bruce Creek Limestone, and the Middle Miocene to
Pliocene Alum Bluff Group.
The Chattahoochee Formation (Langdon, 1899) is composed of a predominately
brownish-gray, moderately indurated, sandy limestone in southern and eastern
Washington County (Green et al., 2002). In the subsurface, Green et al. (2002) noted the top
of the Chattahoochee Formation in wells at elevations ranging from 160 feet above MSL in
the northeastern part of the county to approximately mean sea level in southeastern
Washington County. It attains a maximum observed thickness of 50 feet.
The Bruce Creek Limestone (Huddlestun, 1976) is a white to light yellow-gray,
moderately indurated marine limestone. In Washington County it is a subsurface unit, and
extends into the western and southern portions of the county from adjacent Walton County.
Green et al. (2002) observed a 26-foot thick section of Bruce Creek Limestone at a depth of
48 feet above MSL it in one well in the southwestern part of the county. Schmidt (1984)
shows it in the subsurface of southern Washington County at depths between about 80 feet
above MSL and 125 feet below MSL, pinching out in the south-central part of the county.
Sediments of the Miocene Alum Bluff Group (Huddlestun, 1984; Braunstein et al.,
1988) unconformably overlie the older Oligocene and Eocene units in most of the county,
and the Chattahoochee Formation, where it is present. Lithologically, Alum Bluff Group
sediments range from clayey sands and gravels, to greenish, stiff, micaceous clays with
variable admixtures of silt, sand, and shell. In river and stream valleys it commonly occurs
as a greenish, clay to clayey sand with occasional shell beds. The Alum Bluff Group
occurs throughout most of Washington County and can generally be seen in outcrop at
topographic elevations below 150 feet MSL. Green et al. (2002) found that the unit attains
a maximum thickness of 180 feet in wells.
The name Citronelle Formation was applied by Matson (1916) to sediments exposed near
Citronelle, Alabama. The general lithology of the Citronelle Formation in Washington County
is orange to red, clayey, medium to coarse-grained quartz sands and clayey sands with
occasional clay lenses and beds of friable quartz pebbles. Cross-bedding is present in many
exposures. The original thickness of the formation is uncertain, as erosion has removed the
upper portion over much of the county. Green et al. (2002) noted its thickness as over 110 feet
in the northern part of the county. Many of the higher hills in Washington County are capped
with Citronelle Formation and these may approximate the pre-erosion elevation of the
extensive delta plain in which the unit was originally deposited.
Sediments of the Citronelle Formation blanket most of the southern portion of
Washington County (Figure 2), and occur on numerous hilltops throughout the county. It lies
unconformably upon sediments of the Alum Bluff Group. Local deposits of Quaternary
alluvium may overly the Citronelle Formation in stream valleys.
Pleistocene Holocene Series
Washington County is blanketed with variably-thick soil horizons and fluvial deposits,
generally considered to be Pleistocene to Holocene in age. The larger stream valleys within
the county commonly contain deposits of Pleistocene and Holocene alluvium. Most of these
sediments are derived from erosion of Citronelle Formation and older units within the county
as well as possible upstream sources in adjacent counties and Alabama. These
undifferentiated deposits are typically sands and clays and gravels. Occasional traces of
carbonized wood and carbonaceous horizons of peat and humate occur (Green et al. (2002).
Some may be reddish in color due to the iron-rich nature of the Citronelle Formation from
which they were eroded.
Ground water is water that fills the pores and interstitial spaces in the rocks and
sediments beneath the surface of the earth. Most of Washington County's ground water is
derived from precipitation within the county, in neighboring Florida counties, and in southern
Alabama. A portion of the precipitation leaves the area by surface runoff in stream flow or by
evapotranspiration. The remainder soaks into the ground and some moves downward into the
porous zone of saturation. The top of the zone of saturation is known as the water table. Once
in the zone of saturation, the water moves under the influence of gravity towards discharge
points such as wells, seeps, springs, or eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the water seeps
into the deeper aquifer units, providing recharge to them.
In Washington County, three primary ground-water units are present. These are the
Floridan aquifer system, the intermediate aquifer system or intermediate confining unit, and
the surficial aquifer system, (Copeland et al., in preparation).
Floridan aquifer system
The name Floridan Aquifer was originally proposed by Parker, et al. (1955) for the
artesian aquifer including all or parts of the Middle Eocene to Middle Miocene geological
formations. The unit name was modified to Floridan aquifer system (FAS) by the
Southeastern Geological Society Ad Hoc Committee (1986).
In Washington County, the Eocene Ocala Limestone, the Oligocene Mariana and
Bridgeboro Limestones, the Miocene Chattahoochee Formation, and where it is present, the
Bruce Creek Limestone, comprise the upper portion of the FAS. Most freshwater supply wells
in the county draw from the upper FAS limestones at depths ranging from 50 to 300 feet
below land surface. The thickness of the FAS ranges from about 100 feet in north-central
Washington County to about 700 feet in the southwestern part of the county (Scott et al.,
Intermediate aquifer system or intermediate confining unit
The intermediate aquifer system or intermediate confining unit (IAS) is a system of low-
permeability clays and interbedded carbonates forming both confining units to the underlying
carbonates of the Floridan aquifer system and localized aquifers. In most of Washington
County the IAS is locally contained within the Miocene portion of the undifferentiated Alum
Bluff Group. In the north-central part of the county, principally near the Marianna Karst
Plain, Oligocene residuum may form a confining unit to the underlying Florida aquifer system
(Scott et al., 1991). The IAS varies between about 50 feet and 100 feet thick in Washington
County (Scott et al., 1991).
Surficial aquifer system
Water in the shallow, Pliocene portion of undifferentiated Alum Bluff Group and
Citronelle Formations is generally not confined and the water level is free to rise and fall. This
unconfined water comprises the surficial aquifer system (SAS). The SAS reaches a maximum
thickness of about 100 feet in north-central and southeastern Washington County (Scott et al.,
1991). Owing to the shallow availability of freshwater from the Floridan aquifer system, the
SAS is not used extensively in the county as a potable water source.
Springs are points where underground water emerges onto the earth's surface (Copeland,
2003). Scott et al. (2004) recognize thirty five named springs and numerous unnamed springs
in Washington County. Most are located along Holmes Creek and the Econfina River. These
include one first magnitude spring (flow greater than 100 cubic feet per second), Jack Paul
Spring, located along Holmes Creek near the southwest corner of the town of Vernon. Second
magnitude springs (flow between 10 and 100 cubic feet per second) include Cypress and
Beckton Springs, situated north of Vernon along Holmes Creek, Washington Blue Spring
Choctawhatchee, located north of Ebro near the Choctawhatchee River; and Williford and
Washington Blue Econfina Springs, situated in southeastern Washington County along the
Econfina River (Scott et al., 2004). Most of the larger springs discharge freshwater from the
Floridan aquifer system, and are used for recreation.
Historically, several mineral commodities have been mined in Washington County for
both commercial and public uses. The following discussion provides a general overview of the
near-surface mineral commodities and petroleum resource potential for Washington County.
Clay occurs as a major constituent of the Chattahoochee Formation, Alum Bluff Group and
Citronelle Formation in Washington County. For the most part, the clays in these units are
intermixed with varying proportions of carbonates, quartz sand and gravel or occur as very thin
discontinuous beds. Although these formations occur over much of Washington County, the impure,
thinly-bedded nature of the contained clays generally precludes extensive utilization for fired
products. However, during the 1920s-1940s the Hall Brick company produced brick from a localized
floodplain clay deposit located two miles southwest of Chipll],y (Bell, 1924). The brick was utilized for
local construction. Vernon (1942) notes the presence of two, nearly pure kaolin clay deposits in the
county, but judged them non-commercial because of overburden thickness. No other commercial clay
operations have been viable in the county. Clayey sands, sometimes categorized as clay, are
commonly mined for use as fill but would not be suitable for fired products. Future uses of clay in
Washington County will depend largely on the discovery of suitable deposits as well as local market
Limestone and Dolostone
Limestone (CaCO3) and dolostone (CaMg(CO3)2) belonging to the Oligocene Marianna and
Bridgeboro Limestones and Miocene Chattahoochee Formation occur near the surface in
northern Washington County. Reves (1961) and Yon and Hendry (1969) document a number
of areas of commercial potential in the county.
Limestone is commonly used for construction materials, particularly as a roadbase
material and in the production of concrete and mortar. At least one small private pit
southwest of Chipley produced limestone construction block for local use in the 1920s
(Mossom, 1925). In recent years limestone has been mined at two locations in Washington
County: Choctawhatchee Rock Company operated a mine in northwestern corner of the county
near Hinson's Crossroads; and White Construction has intermittently operated the Trawick
mine, southwest of Chipley. Future exploitation of this resource will be dependent upon
Sand and Gravel
Quartz sand and gravel (SiO2) occur in abundance over most of Washington County. It is
a principal component of the Pleistocene-Holocene alluvial deposits and the Pliocene
Citronelle Formation. Much of this material occurs interbedded and consolidated with clays
and silts, and washing is required to extract the sand. In some cases, especially when the
material is to be used as fill dirt, the clay content is not significant. The primary commercial
uses for this sand are road construction, fill, and asphalt additive.
During the 1920s, sand deposits southeast of Chipley were utilized for local pl.l-riini.
concrete, bricklaying and road surfacing; similar deposits containing gravel were also dug near
Vernon for use as concrete aggregate (Martens, 1928). In later years several commercial
companies and the county government have extracted sands from various areas in
Washington County for use in local projects (Spencer, 1989; FDEP Bureau of Mine
Reclamation in-house database). The abundance of sand and gravel within Washington
County makes impure construction and fill grade sand-mining potential relatively high. Due
to the lack of demand, however, development of this industry on a large-scale basis remains unlikely.
The recent production of oil in Florida occurred from Mesozoic age sediments in two major
areas of Florida. In south Florida, a number of fields are situated along the Sunniland Trend,
and produced from the Lower Cretaceous Sunniland Formation; in northwestern Florida, a
series of fields in northern Santa Rosa County produced oil from the Jurassic Smackover and
Norphlet Formations (Applegate and Lloyd, 1985).
Various companies have drilled a total of 14 oil test wells in Washington County, ranging
in depth from 4,170 feet to 14,044 feet below land surface. None of the wells encountered
producible oil or gas, and all were plu I,-.1 and abandoned as dry holes. The position of
Washington County updip of the productive portions of the Smackover and Norphlet
Formation pinchouts likely precludes a high petroleum potential for the area (Applegate et al.,
Applegate, A. V., Pontigo, F. A., Jr., and Rooke, J. H., 1978, Jurassic Smackover oil prospects
in the Apalachicola Embayment: Oil and Gas Journal, v. 76, no. 4, p. 80-84.
Applegate, A.V., and Lloyd, J. M., 1985, Summary of Florida petroleum production and
exploration, onshore and offshore, through 1984: Florida Bureau of Geology
Information Circular no. 101, 69 p.
Bell, O. G., 1924, A preliminary report on the clays of Florida (exclusive of Fuller's earth):
Florida Geological Survey 15th Annual Report, p. 53 266.
Braunstein, J., Huddlestun, P., and Biel, R. (coordinators), 1988, Correlation of Stratigraphic
Units in North America Gulf Coast Region Correlation Chart: Tulsa, American
Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Campbell, K. M., 1993, Geologic map of Washington County, Florida: Florida Geological
Survey Open File Map Series 18.
Cooke, C. W., 1939, Scenery of Florida interpreted by a geologist: Florida Geological Survey
Bulletin 17,118 p.
Cooke, C. W., and Mansfield, W. C., 1936, Suwannee Limestone of Florida (abstract):
Geological Society of America, Proceedings for 1935, p. 71-72.
Copeland, R., 2003, Florida springs classification system and spring glossary: Florida
Geological Survey Special Publication 52, 18 p.
Copeland, R., Upchurch, S. B., Scott, T. M., Kromhout, C., Arthur, J., Means, G. H., Rupert,
F., and Bond, P., (in preparation), Hydrostratigraphic units of Florida: Florida
Geological Survey Special Publication 28 (revised).
Dall, W. H., and Harris, G.D., 1892, Correlation papers, Neocene: U.S. Geological Survey
Bulletin 84, 349 p.
Green, R. C., Evans, W. L., Bryan, J. R., Paul, D. T., and Gaboardi, M. M., 2002, Geologic map
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