Arbuckle Mountains

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Arbuckle Mountains
Turner falls ok.jpg
Turner Falls, nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains of South Central Oklahoma.
Highest point
Elevation 430 m (1,410 ft)
Coordinates 34°27′24″N97°15′14″W / 34.45667°N 97.25389°W / 34.45667; -97.25389
Area1,000 sq mi (2,600 km2)
Shaded relief map of Arbuckle Mountains, OK, Topographic-NatAtlas-ArbuckleMts-OK.jpg
Satellite image with shaded relief map of Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma
CountryUnited States of America
SettlementCedar Village
Range coordinates 34°25′55″N97°11′27″W / 34.4320324°N 97.1908524°W / 34.4320324; -97.1908524 Coordinates: 34°25′55″N97°11′27″W / 34.4320324°N 97.1908524°W / 34.4320324; -97.1908524
Rivers Washita
Orogeny Ouachita Orogeny
Age of rock Precambrian, Cambrian, Proterozoic, Pennsylvanian, Permian
Type of rock granite, gneiss, limestone, dolomite, sandstone, shale

The Arbuckle Mountains are an ancient mountain range in south-central Oklahoma in the United States. They lie in Murray, Carter, Pontotoc, and Johnston counties. [1] The granite rocks of the Arbuckles date back to the Precambrian Eon some 1.4 billion years ago which were overlain by rhyolites during the Cambrian Period. The range reaches a height of 1,412 feet above sea level. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

Mountain range A geographic area containing several geologically related mountains

A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountains or hills ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usually an orogeny. Mountain ranges are formed by a variety of geological processes, but most of the significant ones on Earth are the result of plate tectonics. Mountain ranges are also found on many planetary mass objects in the Solar System and are likely a feature of most terrestrial planets.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.


The Arbuckles contain the most diverse suite of mineral resources in Oklahoma: limestone, dolomite, glass sand, granite, sand and gravel, shale, cement, iron ore, lead, zinc, tar sands, and oil and gas; all these minerals are, or have been, produced commercially. [2]


Travertine Creek, in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, located in the foothills of the Arbuckles near Sulphur. Arbuckle mts.jpg
Travertine Creek, in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, located in the foothills of the Arbuckles near Sulphur.

The Arbuckle Mountains are the oldest known formations in the United States between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. They contain a core of granite and gneiss that date back at least 1.4 billion years. The core is overlain by a 1,500 feet (460 m) layer of Cambrian-era rhyolite that is about 525 million years old. Atop the rhyolite is about 15,000 feet (4,600 m) of folded and faulted limestones, dolomites, sandstones, and shales deposited in shallow seas from Late Cambrian through Pennsylvanian time (515 - 290 million years ago). [2]

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Gneiss A common high-grade metamorphic rock

Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of metamorphic rock. Gneiss is formed by high temperature and high-pressure metamorphic processes acting on formations composed of igneous or sedimentary rocks. Orthogneiss is gneiss derived from igneous rock. Paragneiss is gneiss derived from sedimentary rock. Gneiss forms at higher temperatures and pressures than schist. Gneiss nearly always shows a banded texture characterized by alternating darker and lighter colored bands and without a distinct foliation.

Rhyolite An igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition

Rhyolite is an igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition (typically > 69% SiO2 – see the TAS classification). It may have any texture from glassy to aphanitic to porphyritic. The mineral assemblage is usually quartz, sanidine and plagioclase (in a ratio > 2:1 – see the QAPF diagram). Biotite and hornblende are common accessory minerals. It is the extrusive equivalent to granite.

They were named indirectly for Gen. Matthew Arbuckle (1778–1851), a career soldier from Virginia who was active in the Indian Territory for the last thirty years of his life. Shortly before his death at Fort Smith, Arkansas, from cholera, several detachments of troops under his command had established an outpost to protect the California road, on Wildhorse Creek in present-day Garvin County, Oklahoma. The post was then named Fort Arbuckle in his honor. Though the post was abandoned in 1870, the name had already transferred in common usage to the nearby hills.

Fort Smith, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 86,209. With an estimated population of 88,037 in 2017, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents that encompasses the Arkansas counties of Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian, and the Oklahoma counties of Le Flore and Sequoyah.

Wildhorse Creek is in Stephens County, Oklahoma. It drains an area of approximately 600 square miles, and flows into the Washita River.

Garvin County, Oklahoma County in the United States

Garvin County is in south-central Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 27,576. Its county seat is Pauls Valley. In 1906, delegates to Constitution Convention formed Garvin County from part of the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory The county was named for Samuel J. Garvin, a local Chickasaw rancher, merchant and banker. Its economy is largely based on farming, ranching and oil production.


A field of flowers in the Arbuckle foothills Arbuckle fence.jpg
A field of flowers in the Arbuckle foothills

Geologically the Arbuckles are an elongate anticline structure with an orientation or strike of west-northwest. The core of the structure consists of Proterozoic extrusive and intrusive rocks, the Colbert rhyolite porphyry and the Tishomingo granite (age dated at 1374 Ma), [3] which are overlain and flanked by early Paleozoic limestones and sandstones that are very steeply dipping to near vertical in orientation. Pennsylvanian to Permian conglomerates were deposited after the orogenic buckling had uplifted and deformed the older strata.

Anticline geological term

In structural geology, an anticline is a type of fold that is an arch-like shape and has its oldest beds at its core. A typical anticline is convex up in which the hinge or crest is the location where the curvature is greatest, and the limbs are the sides of the fold that dip away from the hinge. Anticlines can be recognized and differentiated from antiforms by a sequence of rock layers that become progressively older toward the center of the fold. Therefore, if age relationships between various rock strata are unknown, the term antiform should be used.

Strike and dip terms used to denote the orientation of a geologic feature

Strike and dip refer to the orientation or attitude of a geologic feature. The strike line of a bed, fault, or other planar feature, is a line representing the intersection of that feature with a horizontal plane. On a geologic map, this is represented with a short straight line segment oriented parallel to the strike line. Strike can be given as either a quadrant compass bearing of the strike line or in terms of east or west of true north or south, a single three digit number representing the azimuth, where the lower number is usually given, or the azimuth number followed by the degree sign.

The Proterozoic is a geological eon spanning the time from the appearance of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere to just before the proliferation of complex life on the Earth. The name Proterozoic combines the two forms of ultimately Greek origin: protero- meaning "former, earlier", and -zoic, a suffix related to zoe "life". The Proterozoic Eon extended from 2500 mya to 541 mya, and is the most recent part of the Precambrian "supereon." The Proterozoic is the longest eon of the Earth's geologic time scale and it is subdivided into three geologic eras : the Paleoproterozoic, Mesoproterozoic, and Neoproterozoic.

The west trending structure of the Arbuckles and the parallel trending Wichita Mountains is at almost right angle to the regional tectonic trend of the mid-Paleozoic structure from the Ouachitas south to the Marathon Uplift. The Arbuckles are thought to have originated along a failed rift or aulacogen in the Precambrian basement which was uplifted and folded during the Ouachita Orogeny.

Wichita Mountains Mountains in the US state Oklahoma

The Wichita Mountains are located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is the principal relief system in the Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen, being the result of a failed continental rift. The mountains are a northwest-southeast trending series of rocky promontories, many capped by 500 million-year old granite. These were exposed and rounded by weathering during the Pennsylvanian & Permian Periods. The eastern end of the mountains offers 1,000 feet (305 m) of topographic relief in a region otherwise dominated by gently rolling grasslands.

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains, simply referred to as the Ouachitas, are a mountain range in western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. They are formed by a thick succession of highly deformed Paleozoic strata constituting the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt, one of the important orogenic belts of North America. The Ouachitas continue in the subsurface to the southeast where they make a poorly understood connection with the Appalachians and to the southwest where they join with the Marathon area of West Texas. Together with the Ozark Plateaus, the Ouachitas form the U.S. Interior Highlands. The highest natural point is Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet.

Rift A linear zone where the Earths crust is being pulled apart, and is an example of extensional tectonics

In geology, a rift is a linear zone where the lithosphere is being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics.

Hydrology and karst features

Underlying the Arbuckle Mountains is the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, housing freshwater which emanates at springs to provide the base flows of the Blue River and Honey Creek, which flows over Turner Falls south of Davis.

As a result of the karst topography, standing water is rarely found atop the Arbuckle Mountains, the water seeps through fractures and planes of separation in the limestone bedrock, dissolving the rock to produce a network of caves and solution conduits throughout the limestone formations. Organizations such as the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy and Arbuckle Mountains Grotto of the National Speleological Society actively study the karst features of the Arbuckle Mountains to preserve the biological ecosystems and groundwater resources. The organizations currently maintain databases of more than 1,000 caves and springs in the Arbuckle Mountains. [4] Today the Arbuckles have gradually eroded to their present heights of 300–500 feet above the surrounding terrain or 1300–1400 feet above sea level.

Location and tourism

Visitors explore "Devil's Bathtub" at Falls Creek Fun at devils bathtub.jpg
Visitors explore "Devil's Bathtub" at Falls Creek

The range is approximately 35 miles (56 km) east-to-west and 10–15 miles north-to-south. The main part of the range is located in northern Carter County and southern Murray County, approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Ardmore and 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Davis, Oklahoma on Interstate 35. The eastern flank of the ridge is approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Sulphur on U.S. Highway 177.

Popular recreation areas in the Arbuckle Mountains include Turner Falls Park, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, and Lake of the Arbuckles. Turner Falls is located 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Davis, whereas Chickasaw NRA is located in the city of Sulphur.

The area is also the location of several campgrounds, including the YMCA's Camp Classen and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, which hosts 55,000 campers each summer.

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St. Francois Mountains mountain in United States of America

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Geology of Texas

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South Central Oklahoma official tourism region of Oklahoma

South Central Oklahoma is an amorphous region in the state of Oklahoma, perhaps encompassing 10 counties. It is centered on the Arbuckle Mountains, an ancient, eroded range traversing some 70 miles (110 km) across the region, and surrounded by rivers and lakes, notably Lake Texoma, Lake Murray and Lake of the Arbuckles. For tourism purposes, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism has more narrowly defined South Central Oklahoma, which they refer to as Chickasaw Country, as being a seven-county region including Pontotoc, Johnston, Marshall, Garvin, Murray, Carter, and Love counties. A ten-county definition might also include Coal, Atoka, and Bryan counties, although the Department of Tourism includes those in Choctaw Country. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma covers the eastern third of the region. Its headquarters is in Durant, and its capitol building, now a museum, is in Tuskahoma. The Chickasaw Nation lies within the region, with the tribal capitol building located at Tishomingo and its headquarters in Ada. The Chickasaw Nation, which runs ""., promotes the idea of Chickasaw Country as the 13 south-central Oklahoma counties that comprise the Chickasaw Nation, being the Tourism Department’s seven counties plus Coal, Bryan, Jefferson, Stephens, Grady, and McClain counties.

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The geology of Israel includes igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rocks from the Precambrian overlain by a lengthy sequence of sedimentary rocks extending up to the Pleistocene and overlain with alluvium, sand dunes and playa deposits.

The geology of Yukon includes sections of ancient Precambrian Proterozoic rock from the western edge of the proto-North American continent Laurentia, with several different island arc terranes added through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic, driving volcanism, pluton formation and sedimentation.


  1. Splinter, Dale K. and Richard A. Marston. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Arbuckle Mountains." Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  2. 1 2 "America's Volcanic Past: Oklahoma:Arbuckle Mountains."
  3. Bickford, M. E. and Richard D. Lewis, U-Pb geochronology of exposed basement rocks in Oklahoma,Geological Society of America Bulletin, 1979;90;540-544
  4. Blackwood, K.W., Arbuckle Karst Conservancy projects