Kettle pond, Parke County

Unique Geologic Features in Central Indiana

Part of a series on CILTI’s conservation targets by guest blogger Ed Pope

Since most of Central Indiana is relatively flat, it doesn’t contain many canyons, waterfalls or spectacular rock formations. This makes those that exist, such as Mossy Point‘s striking sandstone bluffs, all the more precious.

Another unusual geologic phenomenon is the kettle pond. There are few natural lakes in our region, and most of these are oxbow lakes, which are formed when rivers alter their course. But some small natural lakes formed after the last Ice Age. When glaciers retreated from Indiana, big blocks of ice would sometimes break off. Meltwater from shrinking glaciers washed sediment around these blocks, forming kettle ponds when those blocks eventually melted.

Areas containing these types of geologic features are rare in Central Indiana and need to be protected. Core conservation areas with unique geologic features include:

  • Lower Sugar Creek: This area encompasses Mossy Point, Turkey Run State Park and more, featuring canyons, sandstone formations and small waterfalls.
  • Flint Creek Fen: Caves in the bluff contain tufa, which are porous limestone formations created when carbonate minerals are deposited from unheated water.
  • Anderson Falls: This waterfall is located about 15 miles east of Columbus, Indiana. The falls are about 10 feet high and 100 feet wide.
  • Ice Block Ponds: About a dozen ponds formed by retreating glaciers are located at this site in southern Morgan County.
  • Sand Pond: Ponds rarely form on top of sand, because water just percolates through it. In this case, a massive block of ice created enough pressure to pack the sand so tightly that it could hold water.

Only parts of Lower Sugar Creek and Anderson Falls are currently protected. These two need to be buffered, and the others need to be protected.

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.