Minerals and Geology - Ozark-Ouachita Highlands Assessment


Minerals, Geology, and Minerals Related Social-Economic
Issues In the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands Assessment
- Portions of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma -

John C. Nichols, Forest Geologist
Ouachita National Forest

The “Ozark-Ouachita Highlands Assessment”

An Assessment conducted by the USDA Forest Service of natural resources and related uses for the Ouachita National Forest in Central Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in Northern Arkansas, and the Mark Twain National Forest in Southern Missouri. Jointly undertaken by the three Forests, who share many similarities, found in part through their proximity to one another, similar geography, areas of shared public, market, and user interests, and similar biotic resources. It also involved input and involvement from other Federal, State, and local government agencies, and Universities. The three National Forests are 4.4 million acres in size, located in 55 counties within Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Other Federal, State, and local government agencies, and universities have joined with the Forest Service in this project broadening the Assessment area to include 107 counties in the 3 states. The inventory and collection of diverse resource related data for the Assessment area addresses social, economic, terrestrial and aquatic issues and conditions throughout the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands.

Minerals and Geology Focus

The Ozark-Ouachita Highlands Assessment has provided a forum for minerals and geology related resources, industries, social significance, and potential to be profiled and discussed along side other critical Assessment resources and study the impacts of the Forests on local and regional economies, and on the people who use these Forests and their resources. The three State Geological agencies (Arkansas Geological Commission, Missouri Geological Survey, Oklahoma Geological Survey) participated in the minerals data collection portion of the report for the portion of the Assessment area in their respective States.

The “Minerals Matrix”

A matrix showing the presence of, and minerals potential for each of the 76 minerals and mineral related commodities and some of the significant geology related resources in each of the 107 counties within the Assessment area. The Matrix also displays geologic interest sites in many of the counties.

Key Minerals Questions & Findings

  1. Question: Historically, what Highlands minerals have been important, to whom, and why?

  2. Question: In Assessment area communities, what is the current reliance on and projected demand for Highlands minerals and mining?

  3. Question: What are current national and global uses of and reliance on the mineral resources in the Assessment area, and what is the projected demand for them?

  4. Question: What are the current and projected recreational and educational uses for Highlands minerals?

Key Minerals Findings:

  • Sixty percent of the mineral resource extraction operations (mining and processing plants) within Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma occurs within the Assessment area, accounting for approximately $1.2 billion in mineral value in 1996.
  • Of 76 known minerals and mineral materials within the Assessment area, 33 are currently being mined.
  • In terms of United States production volume, the Assessment area contains the top 10 production sites for 14 of the numerous mineral commodities produced throughout the United States.
  • The portion of Missouri within the Assessment area contains the largest concentration of lead mineralization in the world. Mines located in the Assessment area are the leading producers of lead in the United States Between 75 and 80 percent of U.S. lead production comes from the Mark Twain National Forest.
  • The Assessment area contains three world-class lead and zinc producing districts (in MO) and was a past world leader in zinc (OK) and barite (AR and MO) production.
  • The Ouachita Mountains are the only source for electronic grade, high quality quartz in North America. Current U.S. production is from the Ouachita National Forest.
  • The Ouachita Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest are a leading world producer and the leading U.S. producers of aesthetic and jewelry quartz crystal.
  • Missouri is the leading U.S. producer of fire clay, much of which is mined from within the Assessment area.
  • Coal from the Oklahoma portion of the Assessment area is used to generate power for 150,000 homes in eastern Oklahoma.
  • The Ozark National Forest has 66 producing gas wells in areas that have a high potential for additional exploration and development.
  • The minerals industry employs approximately 10,500 persons within the Assessment area and is responsible for approximately 50,000 more Assessment area jobs that depend in part or in whole on Highlands' mineral production.
  • In 1996 alone, extraction of mineral resources from the three National Forests within the Assessment area generated almost $6,000,000 in Federal revenue.
  • The National Forests within the Assessment area have a high potential for discovery of additional reserves of the minerals currently being mined on them and in some cases those mined in the past as well. The demand to access the National Forests for mineral exploration is expected to continue and increase.

[photo]  the Cover of Report Three

Aquatic Conditions






Social and Economic Conditions