Natural Minerals of Texas Texas is one of the richest and most beautiful places of the Northern America. The abundance of natural resources, see sights, and wildlife makes it a unique place, which has everything a person could see on the whole territory of the United States: from Oceanside to mountains and cliffs, from forests to deserts. Texas is located in the South West part of the United States and along with California is globally seen as the symbol of the country. Texas has an area that is more than 1.4 times larger than the territory of France and current population of over 21.5 million people. Texas is the heart of the oil industry of the United States and absolute leader of the economic development of the country. Being located in unique geographic area, no wonder Texas is one of those states that have many things to offer to the scientists of different disciplines.
Historically Texas has been known for many archaeological findings: the dinosaur fossils, unique minerals and natural resources. In this paper I will examine the natural minerals of the state, and distinct the major sites where they can be found. One of the world known places of interest for mineral researchers is the Llano Uplift. These ldest rcks expsed in Texas frmed ver a billin years ag when thick sequences f sediment were depsited in an ancient sea that brdered the Nrth American cratn. Apprximately ne billin years ag, the suthern edge f this cratn cllided with anther cntinent r an ceanic plate in an tectnic event that metamrphsed the sediments int gneisses and schists and partially melted mre deeply buried rcks prducing granitic magmas. The metamrphic and igneus rcks prduced in this rgeny, the Packsaddle Schist, Lst Creek and Valley Spring Gneisses, Twn Muntain and finer-grained granites, are nw expsed in the Llan Uplift in central Texas. The ultramafic rcks and serpentinites that make up the Cal Creek igneus cmplex are thugh t represent the remnants f the island arc that cllided with the Nrth American cratn.
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A wide variety f minerals are fund in the Llan Uplift: quartz, micrcline feldspar, plagiclase, bitite, and hrnblende amphible are cmmn cnstituents f granites and gneisses. Garnet, muscvite, bitite, staurlite and ther metamrphic minerals ccur in schists prduced thrugh the metamrphism f clay mineral-rich sediments. Turmaline ccurs in sme schist in Llan Cunty and in quartz veins in the Twn Muntain granite near Llan. Serpentinite, an ultramafic rck cmpsed f serpentine grup minerals, ccurs in the Cal Creek igneus cmplex (Spearing, 153).
ne f the mst interesting f the Llan Uplift minerals is tpaz, the Texas state mineral).
Clurless t pale blue gemstne-quality tpaz crystallized frm flurine-rich gases in Llan Uplift pegmatite. This carse-grained pegmatite is the last vestiges f water-rich granitic magma. Carse-grained crystals f smky quartz, micrcline, beryl, scheelite, and cassiterite als ccur with tpaz in the pegmatite. Terlingua, Texas is the site f ne f the wrlds largest mercury depsits.
At ne time this mine prduced apprximately ne frth f the mercury used in the United States. The mercury re, cinnabar, ccurs as pwdery red veins in the layered limestne and vlcanic lavas and tuffs in Brewster Cunty. Liquid mercury als ccurs in Terlingua. Industrial use f mercury declined when it became knwn just hw txic mercury was, and mining ceased at Terlingua in the 1970s. Slutin cavities and small caves in Brewster Cunty cntain beautiful curving crystals f satin spar gypsum. These wave-like frms f satin spar gypsum are nt unique t Brewster Cunty, Texas. Mammth Cave in Kentucky cntains similar curving crystals f satin spar.
Beautiful calcite scalenhedral crystals f calcite als precipitated in water-filled slutin cavities in Brewster Cunty. The calcite scalenhedrns in the specimen pictured abve right ccur as tiny, delicate transparent and clurless and brick red and paque crystals indicating that the trace-element cmpsitin f the calcite varied ver time (Ewing, 271).
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The Eagle Muntains flurite depsits ccurs as fracture fillings and replacement depsits in Tertiary rhylite tuffs and dikes that accumulated ver r intruded Lwer Cretaceus limestne, sandstnes, and quartzite f the Eagle Muntains f Hudspeth Cunty. Flurite typically ccurs with quartz, calcite, and irn xides in veins in fractured limestne. The Eagle Muntains flurite ccurs as masses f intergrwn cubes, carse-grained massive material, and clur-banded and layered masses (Clair, 85).
The replacement depsits frmed where limestne were mst extensively fractured. Flurite appears t have frmed thrugh the reactin f limestne and gaseus flurine frm the magma that prduced the rhylite tuffs and dikes. Pure flurite is clurless.
Natural flurite ccurs in huge range f clurs due t natural irradiatin f trace quantities f rare-earth elements in the flurite. Dr. Gerge Rssman, a mineralgist at Cal Tech, has shwn experimentally that bmbarding clurless flurite with gamma rays will make the clurless flurite turn purple (Clair, 96).
The Eagle Muntains flurite depsits were discvered because f the need fr flurine during Wrld War II. Glenn Evans was enlisted by the United States Gvernment during Wrld War II t prspect fr minerals required fr the war effrt. After the war, Glen Evans became a gelgist with the Texas Memrial Museum and sme f the Eagle Muntains flurite was acquired by the museum (Girard, 62).
Flurite als ccurs in pegmatite nrth f Masn in the Llan Uplift and in the igneus rcks in Chinati Peak in Presidi Cunty.
The Edwards Plateau was frmed abut ten millin years ag when mvement alng the Balcnes fault zne thrust the Cretaceus rcks f the plateau apprximately tw thusand feet abve see level. The carbnate rcks in the Edwards Plateau cntain abundant slutin cavities, many f which are lined with well-frmed crystals f calcite and celestite. Slightly acidic grundwater perclated thrugh the rcks f the Edwards Plateau disslving fine-grained carbnate and sulphate minerals disseminated thrugh the limestne. These aqueus slutins later precipitated calcite and celestite as large, well-frmed crystals alng the walls f pen slutin cavities. The calcite and celestite ccur as well-frmed crystals because crystallizatin ccurred in slutin-filled cavities. If the cavities been mstly air-filled, calcite wuld crystallize in a btryidal frm that resembles a mass f grapes.
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The Texas Castal Plain is the surface expressin f a thick wedge f sediment depsited in the Gulf f Mexic by Texas rivers during the Cretaceus (144 – 66 millin years ag) and Tertiary (66 – 2 millin years ag) perids. The Cretaceus sediments cnsist primarily f thick sequences f limestne prduced by the accumulatin f calcareus shells f rganisms. The Tertiary sediments cnsist f layers f sand and mud that may reach apprach 50,000 feet in thickness. The sediments f this wedge were depsited n lder thick sequences f halite, gypsum, and anhydrite that had precipitated frm the evaprating waters f a shallw sea in what is nw the Gulf cast abut 200 millin years ag during the late Jurassic. As the pile f yunger sediments accumulated ver the Luann salt layer, the salt was buried t greater depths under cnditins f increasing temperature and pressure. In time, the salt layer plastically defrmed int salt diapirs r dmes that rse thrugh the verlying sediment clumn due t their lwer density (Ewing, 142).
When the tp f a salt dme appraches a few thusand feet f the Earths surface, grund water circulates thrugh the salt dme and the surrunding sediments.
The circulating grundwater disslves halite and precipitates native sulfur, calcite, gypsum, and anhydrite in pen slutin cavities in and arund the crest f the salt dme. Large vlumes f native sulfur and gypsum have been mined frm the tps r caps f Texas salt dmes. Petrified wd is chalcedny (an aggregate f very fine-grained cryptcrystalline quartz) that has replaced the rganic material that frmerly cmpsed the cells f a tree. Petrified wd still lks like wd, having the texture r grain f wd, but it is entirely cmpsed f silica (Si2) and trace quantities f irn. Petrified wd frms when trees are felled and rapidly buried by sediments befre decay can ccur. Typically this rapid burial is the result f catastrphic events such as earthquakes, landslides, and flding.
After burial, silica-bearing aqueus slutins circulate thrugh the sediments replacing the rganic material in the wd with silica. Petrified wd is fund primarily in the uncnslidated sediments f east Texas in Armstrng, Sabine, Newtn, Jasper, Washingtn, Lee, Fayette, Gnzales, McMullen, Live ak, Webb, and Duval Cunties (Spearing, 201).
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Mentioned above is only a small portion of splendid sites and mineral resources innate to them that can be found on the territory of Texas. Modern scientists tend to believe that the process of forming new types of stones is currently taking place, therefore a great deals of archaeological discoveries awaits our descendants.
Ewing, T. E. The tectonic framework of Texas. University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology: Austin, 1991. Girard, R.
M. Texas rocks and minerals: an amateurs guide. University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology: Austin, 1964. Spearing, D. Roadside Geology of Texas. Mountain Press: Missoula, MT, 1991. St.
Clair, A. E., Garner, L. E., and Evans, T. J. Mineral resources of Texas. Vintage Books: New York, 1984..