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State and Regional Geology: A Guide to Resources (June 2014): South Central States

By Linda R. Zellmer

South Central States

The south central states include Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.  While the area is divided by the Mississippi River, the geologic and plate tectonic histories of the region are closely related.

People looking for information on Kentucky geology have a variety of choices.  The most complete description of Kentucky’s geology is Arthur McFarlan’s Geology of Kentucky, which includes descriptions of the state’s stratigraphy, structural and regional geology, geologic history, and natural features.  Changing Interpretations of Kentucky Geology: Layer-Cake, Facies, Flexure, and Eustacy, edited by Frank Ettensohn, provides a more detailed description of Kentucky’s geologic structure in light of plate tectonics.

Don Byerly’s new book, The Last Billion Years: A Geologic History of Tennessee, provides an introduction to the state’s geologic setting, discusses some basic geologic concepts and plate tectonics, and then traces the geologic history of Tennessee from the Precambrian to the present.  It includes descriptions of rock units and their environments of deposition, a chapter on Tennessee’s mineral and energy resources, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography.  Harry Moore’s A Geologic Trip across Tennessee by Interstate 40 provides a more general introduction to Tennessee geology; it includes a chapter on the role of geology in road building and 170-plus pages of road logs for side trips to significant geological sites along the highway.

Alabama’s geology was extensively described in Geology of Alabama by George Adams et al.  This volume contains descriptions of individual rock units, including their environment, distribution, and extent.  Alabama Stratigraphy, edited by Dorothy Raymond et al., provides an analysis of the stratigraphic units and their relationship to geologic structures of the region.

Several recent publications on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast describe the geology of Mississippi and Louisiana.  Adventures through Deep Time: The Central Mississippi River Valley and Its Earthquakes by Roy Van Arsdale explains the geology and plate tectonic history of the Mississippi River Valley and Mississippi embayment.  Roger Saucier’s Geomorphology and Quaternary Geologic History of the Lower Mississippi Valley describes the Pleistocene and Holocene geology of the Mississippi River Valley from southern Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico.  An Introduction to Central Gulf Coast Geology, edited by Duncan Goldthwaite, discusses Gulf Coast geology, stratigraphy, and geomorphology, with particular emphasis on the petroleum resources of the region.

The geology and rock units of Arkansas were described in Outlines of the Geology, Soils and Minerals of the State of Arkansas, by Jim Ferguson and edited by John Small.  Margaret Guccione presents a modern interpretation of Arkansas geology in Geologic History of Arkansas through Time and Space, a free publication available from the website of the Arkansas Geological Survey.  The Geology section of the survey’s website features information on the state’s geology, stratigraphy, and fossils.

Charles Gould described the geology of Oklahoma in 1905 in Geology and Water Resources of Oklahoma, and the stratigraphy in 1925 in Index to the Stratigraphy of Oklahoma.  Since then, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has published numerous reports and maps on the geology and hydrology of the state, many of which are available online.  The most current summary of Oklahoma geology is given in Earth Sciences and Mineral Resources of Oklahoma, edited by Kenneth Johnson and Kenneth Luza; this educational publication is available from the survey.

The Geology of Texas by E. Sellards, F. Plummer, and W. Adkins is a three-volume set that describes the structural and economic geology, stratigraphy, and paleontology of Texas.  Thomas summarized the current thinking on the state’s geologic history based on plate tectonics in The Tectonic Framework of Texas: Text to Accompany “The Tectonic Map of Texas.”

Works Cited