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AGS / Geology / Stratigraphy / Ozark Plateaus / Main

A majority of the descriptions for the formations in the Ozark Plateaus region are taken from the Stratigraphic Summary of Arkansas by John David McFarland (1998), IC-36.

This summary of the stratigraphic section of Arkansas is intended to be a companion document for the Geologic Map of Arkansas (1976, 1993). It offers a brief description of each of the units depicted on the state geologic map. Some stratigraphic units combined on the Geologic Map of Arkansas are treated independently herein. A few units that are not specifically listed on the legend of the state geologic map are treated separately because of their outcrop prominence or importance for stratigraphic understanding. Some units depicted on the Geologic Map of Arkansas are not formal stratigraphic formations, but rather are descriptive references: nevertheless, a brief description is herein provided. Most of these latter units are Quaternary subdivisions that have not yet been studied in detail. Some information contained in this document is at variance with the data presented on the Geologic Map of Arkansas due to more recent observations and interpretations.

Each listing relates the general geology of each unit along with auxiliary information relating to the unit’s age, distribution, original reference, and type locality. The information provided for each formation under the Geology heading consists of a brief statement relating to the dominate lithologies and characteristics of the unit, its fossil fauna, conformity of the lower contact, and thickness on the outcrop. If a unit has well known subdivisions, they are usually treated within this section. The Age of each formation is listed by geologic Period often with some indication of conventional subdivision, such as Early, Middle, and Late, or an Epoch name. The Distribution of each formation is presented with reference to the general area in Arkansas where the unit outcrops. If the unit is known outside of Arkansas, the other states are listed following the information about Arkansas. The Original reference is the citation for the original publication defining the unit. The Type locality information is usually the type area of the formation rather than a specific type locality. Many of these formations were defined before the practice of designating a type locality became a part of proper stratigraphic description.

Ozark Plateaus Region

The Ozark Plateaus region of Arkansas is made up of generally flat-lying Paleozoic age strata divided into three plateau surfaces. The lowest and northern-most plateau is the Salem Plateau and is generally underlain by dolostones, sandstones, and limestones of Ordovician age. The Springfield Plateau stands above the Salem a few hundred feet and is generally capped by lower Mississippian age limestones and cherts. The southernmost and highest plateau of the Ozarks is the Boston Mountains. It is dominated by Pennsylvanian age shales, siltstones, and sandstones. All of these plateaus are deeply dissected by numerous streams throughout the area. The faulting in the Ozarks is generally normal; most faults displaying a displacement down on the southern side.  However, some observations reveal that a few strike-slip faults may be present. Gentle folds are noted but are generally of very low amplitude. The depositional environment of the rocks found in the Arkansas Ozarks is one of a relatively shallow continental shelf, sloping toward deeper water generally toward the south. This shelf emerged many times during the Paleozoic resulting in numerous unconformities throughout the sequence.

Each description is listed under its corresponding time period in order from oldest to youngest.

Correlation Charts for the Ozark Plateaus Region are shown below.
(from Stratigraphic Summary of Arkansas, 1998)

wpe4.jpg (26484 bytes) Mississppian Pennsylvanian


wpe4.jpg (33026 bytes) Ordovician Silurian Devonian
wpe4.jpg (15819 bytes) Quaternary Tertiary wpe5.jpg (15445 bytes) Cretaceous


Berry, E. W., 1915, Erosion Intervals in the Eocene of the Mississippi Embayment: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 95-F.

Clardy, B. F., 1979, Arkansas Lignite Investigations, Preliminary Report: Arkansas Geological Commission Miscellaneous Publication 15.

Craig, W. W., Wise, O., and McFarland, J. D., 1984, A Guidebook to the Post-St. Peter Ordovician and the Silurian and Devonian Rocks of North-Central Arkansas: Arkansas Geological Commission Guidebook 84-1.

Croneis, C., 1930, Geology of the Arkansas Paleozoic Area: Arkansas Geological Commission Bulletin 3.

Dane, C. H., 1929, Upper Cretaceous Formations of Southwestern Arkansas: Arkansas Geological Commission Bulletin 1.

Gordon, M. Jr., Tracey, J. I., and Ellis, M. W., 1958, Geology of the Arkansas Bauxite Region: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 299.

Guccione, M. J., Prior, W. L., and Rutledge, E. M., 1986, The Tertiary and Quaternary Geology of Crowley’s Ridge: Arkansas Geological Commission Guidebook 86-4.

Haley, B. R., et al., 1976, 1993 (revised), Geologic Map of Arkansas: Arkansas Geological Commission.

Harris, G. D., 1894, The Tertiary Geology of Southern Arkansas: Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1892, Volume II.

Hill, R. T., 1888, The Neozoic Geology of Southwestern Arkansas: Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1888, Volume II.

Keroher, G. C., 1966, Lexicon of Geologic Names of the United States for 1936-1960: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1200.

Keroher, G. C., 1970, Lexicon of Geologic Names of the United States for 1961-1967: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1350.

Saucier, R. T., 1994, Geomorphology and Quaternary Geologic History of the Lower Mississippi Valley: U. S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Sutherland, P. K. and Manger, W. L., 1977, Upper Chesterian-Morrowan Stratigraphy and the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian Boundary in Northeastern Oklahoma and Northwestern Arkansas: Oklahoma Geological Survey Guidebook 18.

Sutherland, P. K. and Manger, W. L., 1979, Mississippian-Pennsylvanian Shelf-to-Basin Transition Ozark and Ouachita Regions, Oklahoma and Arkansas: Oklahoma Geological Survey Guidebook 19.

Wilbert, L. J., 1953, The Jacksonian Stage in Southeastern Arkansas: Arkansas Geological Commission Bulletin 19.

Wilmarth, M. G., 1938, Lexicon of Geologic Names of the United States: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 896.

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