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The quartz crystal deposits of western Arkansas

September 28, 1946

Extensive geological investigations of domestic deposits of quartz crystals were undertaken by the Geological Survey of the United States Department of the Interior in the fall of 1942 in response to the urgent demand for crystals for war purposes. The work was continued throughout 1943 and took survey geologists into some 20 states in which over 1,400 deposits or reports of deposits were examined. Of the numerous highly varied occurrences of quartz examined, only the deposits in western Arkansas, in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge provinces of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia and the placer quartz of Mokelumne Hill, California, were of sufficient promise to warrant detailed work. Production in 1943 from these areas totaled slightly less than 4 tons of oscillator quartz, over 85 per cent of which came from Arkansas.The Arkansas deposits occur throughout the thick, deformed Paleozoic shales, sandstones, and cherts exposed along the central belt of the Ouachita Mountains. Steeply dipping fractures closely related to the major folds control the deposition of most quartz.Clear quartz is confined largely to the terminal parts of primary crystals, which have developed without disturbance or interference, are commonly elongate parallel to their C axes and are bounded by relatively simple forms. Deposition of silica during and subsequent to the fracturing of crystals resulted in the formation of complex crystals which are characterized by extensive optical twinning and lineage structures, and commonly are bounded by aggregates of the simpler crystal forms. The principal defects in all types of crystals are twinning, smokiness, cavities, solid inclusions and fractures.The Arkansas quartz deposits include veins, sheeted zones and stock-works. They are largely cavity fillings, apparently deposited by rising, attenuated, hydrothermal solutions, at relatively low temperatures and pressures. Minerals associated with the quartz, which constitutes 90 per cent or more of the cavity fillings, include dickite and carbonaceous material, calcite, adularia, and chlorite. The constituents of the cavity fillings could have been derived principally from magmatic sources or more probably from underlying rocks, with small additions from the rocks enclosing the cavities. The complex vein fabrics apparently resulting from intermittent regional deformation during the deposition of the quartz, and certain structural relations of the deposits, indicate that they were formed in the final stages of the Ouachita orogeny, probably in mid-Pennsylvanian time.

Publication Year 1946
Title The quartz crystal deposits of western Arkansas
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.41.6.598
Authors A.E.J. Engel
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Economic Geology
Index ID 70214509
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse