Information Circular IC-3

AGC/AGS Series information-circulars
Number Series IC-3
Title Black Marbles of Northern Arkansas
Author (s) B. Parks, J.M. Hansel, and E.E. Bonewits
Date 1932
General Description

Black limestone, known commercially as black marble, has been known to occur in north Arkansas since 1858, but, due principally to inadequate transportation facilities, early attempts to utilize the deposits were unprofitable. Since 1926, however, the construction of good highways and a bridge across White River at Batesville has encouraged extensive leasing, and 16 prospect black marble quarries have been opened between Oil Trough, Independence County, and Marshall, Searcy County. The marble has been used for decorating the interiors of at least seven public buildings and has been specified for use in several buildings now under construction. Since July, 1930, 47 car loads of marble blocks and terrazzo have been shipped.

The black marble occurs as flat-lying beds of dark gray-black limestone in the Fayetteville and Pitkin formations of Mississippian age, which outcrop along the north slope of the Boston Mountain escarpment. Immediately south of White River the thickness of the individual marble beds ranges from a feather edge to about four feet. The beds outcrop for a distance of from 200 to 225 miles between Oil Trough and Marshall which are 68 miles apart on an air line. Black marble occurs in the upper one-third to one-half of the Fayetteville formation, and principally in the basal 30 to 40 feet of the Pitkin formation.

Both the Fayetteville and Pitkin formations contain large quantities of very fine-grained, even-textured and uniformly shaded black marble which, as a type, is termed "Arkansas Black" marble. Judging by present day demand, it is estimated that there are sufficient quantities of accessible black marble in these formations to supply the entire demand of the United States for a great many years.

These gray, coarse-textured marbles are called, as a type, "Arkansas Fossil."

Three quarries are now operating in the Fayetteville formation and one in the Pitkin formation.

*Includes: 51 pages, 5 plates, 16 figures and 8 tables

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Information Circulars 3 PDF (8.46 MB)

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Contact Information

Arkansas Geological Survey
3815 West Roosevelt Road
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 296-1877 or (501) 296-1878