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Fort Payne Roadcuts Near Celina Tennessee

Please Note: This webpage and all linked sections are currently under construction and subject to frequent changes and updates until further notice.

Frank W. Stapor, Jr.
Dept. of Earth Sciences
Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville, TN


The recently relocated highway TN 52 in eastern Clay County contains a number of 15- to 25-meter high, 100- to 300-meter long, vertical, roadcuts through the Mississippian Ft. Payne Formation.  The siliciclastic mudstone facies of the Ft. Payne is spectacularly exposed in these roadcuts, Figs 1 and 2.  The eastern roadcuts, which are in the upper 20- to 30-meters of the Ft. Payne, contain submarine channels filled with siliciclastic mudstone and crinoidal/bryozoan grainstones.  These channels have up to 10-meters of erosional relief.  Overlying these channel-fills are a number of 1- to 3-meter thick, sheet-like, crinoidal/bryozoan grainstones (locally dolomitized) that can be traced for up to a kilometer or more along the roadcuts of highway TN 52.  In several roadcuts the depositional facies change or pinch-out of the channel-filling, grainstone, sediment gravity flows into carbonate-rich siliciclastic mudstone can be observed in detail.    A similar channel-fill occurs in roadcuts through the upper Ft. Payne Formation on TN53 north of Celina, TN., Fig. 1.


Figure 1.  General location map of the Ft. Payne Formation submarine channel-fills exposed along highways TN52 and TN53.

Photo-mosaics of the roadcuts which exhibit channel-fills and/or sheet-like deposits were made in order to record and thus preserve this unique stratigraphic data set.  Multiple, overlapping, 35mm digital images were taken of each roadcut and then merged into a single photo-mosaic in Adobe Photoshop.  Images were taken at a horizontal spacing of approximately 5-meters. Unavoidable distortion exists at the upper and lower margins of each merged photo-mosaic.  The resulting photo-mosaics show in great detail bedding surfaces as well as variations in color and texture that reflect different lithologies.  In addition, facies lithologies were documented by polished slabs and thin sections.