GEOLOGY AND URANIUM DEPOSITS OF THE SOUTHERN BLACK HILLS
GEOLOGY OF THE JEWEL CAVE SW QUADRANGLE CUSTER COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA
By WILLIAM A. BRADDOCK
The Jewel Cave SW quadrangle is in the southwestern part of the Black Hills in Custer County, S. Dak., about midway between Edgemont, S. Dak., and Newcastle, Wyo. All the rocks that crop out within the quadrangle are of sedimentary origin and range in age from Pennsylvanian to Early Cretaceous.
The Minnesota Formation of Pennsylvania and Permian age, which is about 1,000 feet thick, was studied in outcrop and from two diamond-drill cores. In the subsurface the upper part of the formation consists of gray sandstone, very fine grained dolomite, and anhydrite. The anhydrite has been leached from the formation near the outcrop, perhaps in the early part of the Cenozoic Era, and the resulting subsidence has produced collapse breccias in the Minnelusa and milder deformation in the overlying units. In the collapse breccias the rocks have been oxidized and are red, whereas in the subsurface they are gray. The anhydrite cement of the subsurface sandstone has been replaced by calcite, and the dolomite beds have been partially converted to limestone.
The Opeche Formation of Permian age consists of 75 to 115 feet of red siltstone and shale and two thin gypsum beds. The Minnekahta Limestone of Permian age is about 40 feet thick.
The Spearfish Formation of Permian and Triassic age is about 550 feet thick and consists of red siltstone red sandstone, dolomite, and gypsum. The dolomite and gypsum beds are restricted to the lower half of the formation. In the northeast corner of the quadrangle the gypsum beds have been dissolved by ground water. The Sundance Formation of Late Jurassic age is divided into five members that have a total thickness of about 360 feet. The Morrison Formation of Late Jurassic age ranges in thickness from 60 to 120 feet. It consists of blocky weathering noncarbonaceous mudstone and subordinate beds of limestone and sandstone.
The Inyan Kara Group of Early Cretaceous age has been subdivided into the Lakota Formation and the Fall River Formation. The Lakota Formation consists of 200 to 300 feet of carbonaceous siltstone blocky-weathering claystone, and fine-grained to conglomeratic sandstone. These rocks were deposited in stream channels, flood plains, and ponds. The Fall River Formation is about 110 to 130 feet thick. Along the northeast side of the outcrop the formation consists of fine- to medium-grained sandstone, which forms an elongate body at least 1-1/2 miles wide and more than 25 miles long. To the southwest the formation consists of thinly stratified interbedded sandstone, carbonaceous siltstone, and varicolored mudstone. The Skull Creek and Mowry Shales of Early Cretaceous age consist of black fissile shale. The Mowry contains abundant fish scales and weathers to a silver gray.
Alluvium fills the bottom of many intermittent streams, and small gravel-covered terraces mark the former high levels of these streams. Gravel, which caps hills at altitudes of 4,460 to 4,620 feet, is believed to have been deposited by a Pleistocene stream that drained southeastward toward the town of Minnekahta. Many landslides are present along the northward- and eastward-facing scarp of the Inyan Kara hogback.
The Dewey fault, trending N. 75° E., crosses the quadrangle. It is probably a vertical dip-slip fault, and has an apparent displacement of 250 to 440 feet. Two northwest-trending anticlines are in the quadrangleone extends from the Edgemont NE quadrangle to near the center of the Jewel Cave SW quadrangle, and the other is limited to the center of the Jewel Cave SW quadrangle.
Collapse structures, which were produced by the solution of anhydrite, are (a) breccias in the Minnelusa Formation, (b) limestone-dolomite breccias in the Spearfish Formation, (c) undulations and normal faults in the formations overlying the Minnelusa and (d) breccia pipes that extend upward from the Minnelusa to at least as high as the Lakota Formation. The leaching probably occurred in early Cenozoic time.
Minor deformational structures in the Minnekahta Limestone and the Spearfish Formation occur in areas where there has been little subsidence; these structures are probably due to sliding of the strata away from the center of the Black Hills.
Several small uranium deposits and several radioactivity anomalies are known in the quadrangle, but no large economic deposits have been found. The known occurrences of uranium minerals are all within the Inyan Kara Group.
Last Updated: 28-Nov-2007