Texas contains a great variety of geologic settings. The state's stratigraphy has been largely influenced by marine transgressive-regressive cycles during the Phanerozoic, with a lesser but still significant contribution from late Cenozoic tectonic activity, as well as the remnants of a Paleozoic mountain range.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Stratigraphy is a branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification). It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks. Stratigraphy has two related subfields: lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy.
The Phanerozoic Eon is the current geologic eon in the geologic time scale, and the one during which abundant animal and plant life has existed. It covers 541 million years to the present, and began with the Cambrian Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. Its name was derived from the Ancient Greek words φανερός and ζωή, meaning visible life, since it was once believed that life began in the Cambrian, the first period of this eon. The term "Phanerozoic" was coined in 1930 by the American geologist George Halcott Chadwick (1876–1953). The time before the Phanerozoic, called the Precambrian, is now divided into the Hadean, Archaean and Proterozoic eons.
Texas is approximately bisected by a series of faults that trend southwest to northeast across the state, from the area of Uvalde to Texarkana. South and east of these faults, the surface exposures consist mostly of Cenozoic sandstone and shale strata that grow progressively younger toward the coast, indicative of a regression that has continued from the late Mesozoic to the present. The coastal plain is underlaid by salt domes that are responsible for many of the oil traps in the region.
In geology, a fault is a planar fracture or discontinuity in a volume of rock, across which there has been significant displacement as a result of rock-mass movement. Large faults within the Earth's crust result from the action of plate tectonic forces, with the largest forming the boundaries between the plates, such as subduction zones or transform faults. Energy release associated with rapid movement on active faults is the cause of most earthquakes.
Uvalde is a city in and the county seat of Uvalde County, Texas, United States. The population was 15,751 at the 2010 census.
Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral particles or rock fragments.
North and west of the faults are the Stockton, Edwards, and Comanche plateaux; these define a crustal block that was upthrown during the Neogene. This large region of central Texas, which extends from Brewster County east to Bexar, and northeast to the Red River features extensive Cretaceous shale and limestone outcrops. The limestone in particular is important, both economically for its use in cement manufacture and as a building material, as well as practically; a porous limestone formation in the Texas Hill Country is the reservoir of the Edwards Aquifer, a vital water source to millions.
The Edwards Plateau is a region of west-central Texas which is bounded by the Balcones Fault to the south and east, the Llano Uplift and the Llano Estacado to the north, and the Pecos River and Chihuahuan Desert to the west. San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio and Del Rio roughly outline the area. The eastern portion of the plateau is known as the Texas Hill Country.
Fault blocks are very large blocks of rock, sometimes hundreds of kilometres in extent, created by tectonic and localized stresses in the Earth's crust. Large areas of bedrock are broken up into blocks by faults. Blocks are characterized by relatively uniform lithology. The largest of these fault blocks are called crustal blocks. Large crustal blocks broken off from tectonic plates are called terranes. Those terranes which are the full thickness of the lithosphere are called microplates. Continent-sized blocks are called variously microcontinents, continental ribbons, H-blocks, extensional allochthons and outer highs.
The Neogene is a geologic period and system that spans 20.45 million years from the end of the Paleogene Period 23.03 million years ago (Mya) to the beginning of the present Quaternary Period 2.58 Mya. The Neogene is sub-divided into two epochs, the earlier Miocene and the later Pliocene. Some geologists assert that the Neogene cannot be clearly delineated from the modern geological period, the Quaternary. The term "Neogene" was coined in 1853 by the Austrian palaeontologist Moritz Hörnes (1815–1868).
Almost in the center of these Cretaceous rocks is the Llano Uplift, a geologic dome of Precambrian gneiss, schist, and granite, surrounded by Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The granite here is quarried for construction, but it is perhaps best known to Texans through its manifestation as Enchanted Rock.
The Llano uplift is a low geologic dome that is about 90 miles (140 km) in diameter. It consists of an island-like exposure of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks surrounded by outcrops of Paleozoic and Cretaceous sedimentary strata. At their widest, the exposed Precambrian rocks extend about 65 miles (105 km) westward from the valley of the Colorado River and beneath a broad, gentle topographic basin drained by the Llano River. The subdued topographic basin is underlain by Precambrian rocks and bordered by a discontinuous rim of flat-topped hills. These hills are the dissected edge of the Edwards Plateau, which consist of overlying Cretaceous sedimentary strata. Within this basin and along its margin are down-faulted blocks and erosional remnants of Paleozoic strata which form prominent hills.
A dome is a feature in structural geology consisting of symmetrical anticlines that intersect each other at their respective apices. Intact, domes are distinct, rounded, spherical-to-ellipsoidal-shaped protrusions on the Earth's surface. However, a transect parallel to Earth's surface of a dome features concentric rings of strata. Consequently, if the top of a dome has been eroded flat, the resulting structure in plan view appears as a bullseye, with the youngest rock layers at the outside, and each ring growing progressively older moving inwards. These strata would have been horizontal at the time of deposition, then later deformed by the uplift associated with dome formation.
The Precambrian is the earliest part of Earth's history, set before the current Phanerozoic Eon. The Precambrian is so named because it preceded the Cambrian, the first period of the Phanerozoic eon, which is named after Cambria, the Latinised name for Wales, where rocks from this age were first studied. The Precambrian accounts for 88% of the Earth's geologic time.
From San Saba north to Childress, and from Wichita Falls in the east to Big Spring in the west, the surface consists of late Paleozoic (Pennsylvanian) to early Mesozoic (Triassic) marine sediments. These strata grow younger from east to west, until they are overlain unconformably by terrigenous Ogallala sediments of Miocene and Pliocene age. These late Cenozoic deposits dominate the Texas Panhandle.
San Saba is a city located in Central Texas. It was settled in 1854 and named for its location on the San Saba River. The population was 3,099 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of San Saba County.
Childress is a city in Childress County, Texas, United States. The population was 6,905 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Childress County.
Big Spring is a city in and the county seat of Howard County, Texas, United States, at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 87 and Interstate 20. With a population of 27,282 as of the 2010 census, it is the largest city between Midland to the west, Abilene to the east, Lubbock to the north, and San Angelo to the south. Big Spring was established as the county seat of Howard County in 1882; it is the largest community in the county.
The geology of west Texas is arguably the state's most complex, with a mix of exposed Cretaceous and Pennsylvanian strata, overlain by Quaternary conglomerates. A series of faults trend southeast to northwest across the region, from Big Bend to El Paso; there are also extensive volcanic deposits. The Marathon Mountains northeast of Big Bend National Park have long been of special interest to geologists; they are the folded and eroded remains of an ancient mountain range, created in the same orogeny that formed the Ouachita and Appalachian Mountains.
Quaternary is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic Era in the geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). It follows the Neogene Period and spans from 2.588 ± 0.005 million years ago to the present. The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene and the Holocene. The informal term "Late Quaternary" refers to the past 0.5–1.0 million years.
Conglomerate is a coarse-grained clastic sedimentary rock that is composed of a substantial fraction of rounded to subangular gravel-size clasts, e.g., granules, pebbles, cobbles, and boulders, larger than 2 mm (0.079 in) in diameter. Conglomerates form by the consolidation and lithification of gravel. Conglomerates typically contain finer grained sediment, e.g., either sand, silt, clay or combination of them, called matrix by geologists, filling their interstices and are often cemented by calcium carbonate, iron oxide, silica, or hardened clay.
For the Texas State Park see Big Bend Ranch State Park.
The Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks of the Llano Uplift probably formed during the Mesoproterozoic Grenville orogeny, which was part of the assembly of the supercontinent Rodinia. Over time, the mountains of the Grenville orogeny were eroded flat, and later covered by Paleozoic and Mesozoic sediments that were not uplifted and eroded in their present manner until the late Cenozoic.
Early to middle Paleozoic rocks in Texas are typically carbonate deposited in epeiric seas. Exceptions include a significant area of Cambrian sandstone in west Texas, and some shale strata from the Devonian and Mississippian periods. The Ouachita Mountains were uplifted across the state during the succeeding Pennsylvanian period; this provided a nearby source of sediment for shale and sandstone, along with more marine limestone deposition.
Permian rocks are the best-known of the Texas Paleozoic. They are widespread in north Texas, where their characteristic red beds are spectacularly exposed in Palo Duro Canyon. The strata are also oil-rich where buried in west Texas, such as in the Midland and Odessa region. This crude oil rich area is known as the Permian Basin. Permian Texas was covered by shallow seas to the west, with evaporation flats to the east and north in the Panhandle.Outstanding exposures of Permian strata are located in and around Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the geology of which resulted in the definition of several Permian stratotypes; the region is one of the world's best for studies of the period.,
Early and middle Mesozoic strata are, on the whole, poorly represented in Texas. Triassic rocks are limited to sandstone and shale in the Panhandle, while the Jurassic record is almost nonexistent at the surface. This was far from a monotonous time, though, as it featured the creation of the Gulf of Mexico, from a rift southeast of the Ouachita Mountains. Deeply buried salt deposits and marine limestones under the coastal plain date from the Jurassic, when the first shallow seas formed.
The late Mesozoic record is much richer. Cretaceous rocks—particularly those of the lower Cretaceous—are widespread at the surface, with yet more buried under the coastal plain. The strata consist of massive limestone sequences deposited when the entire region was submerged under the Western Interior Seaway, during the last great marine transgression.
The Western Interior Seaway had withdrawn by the beginning of the Cenozoic, the era that put the finishing touch on Texas's current geology. The modern coastal plain formed during this time; it comprises increasingly thick sediments (perhaps 15 km deep at the coastline) deposited southeastward into the downwarping Gulf of Mexico.
West Texas was rent by volcanism during the Eocene and Oligocene epochs, activity which formed most of the modern topography of the area. Later crustal extension created a series of alternating horsts and grabens similar to those in the Basin and Range Province of the western U.S. A late Cenozoic uplift of the Rocky Mountains led to the deposition of a vast fan of eroded sediment to their east, forming the Ogallala Formation that covers much of the Panhandle. Most of the state's current stream valleys and canyons date from the Pleistocene to the present, as the final geologic shaping of the state.
Texas has been the leading state in petroleum production since discovery of the Spindletop oil field in 1901. As of October 2017, the State of Texas (if treated as its own nation) is the 7th largest oil producing nation in the world, with production totaling approximately 3.78 MMBOE/day.The state also produces uranium. In past years, the state has also produced mercury, silver, and copper.
The geology of the Appalachians dates back to more than 480 million years ago. A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian Mountains reveals elongate belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor - strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision. The birth of the Appalachian ranges marks the first of several mountain building plate collisions that culminated in the construction of the supercontinent Pangaea with the Appalachians and neighboring Little Atlas near the center. These mountain ranges likely once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before they were eroded.
The Permian Basin is a large sedimentary basin in the southwestern part of the United States. The basin contains the Mid-Continent Oil Field province. This sedimentary basin is located in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. It reaches from just south of Lubbock, past Midland and Odessa, south nearly to the Rio Grande River in southern West Central Texas, and extending westward into the southeastern part of New Mexico. It is so named because it has one of the world's thickest deposits of rocks from the Permian geologic period. The greater Permian Basin comprises several component basins; of these, the Midland Basin is the largest, Delaware Basin is the second largest, and Marfa Basin is the smallest. The Permian Basin covers more than 86,000 square miles (220,000 km2), and extends across an area approximately 250 miles (400 km) wide and 300 miles (480 km) long.
The exposed geology of the Canyonlands area is complex and diverse; 12 formations are exposed in Canyonlands National Park that range in age from Pennsylvanian to Cretaceous. The oldest and perhaps most interesting was created from evaporites deposited from evaporating seawater. Various fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales were deposited by advancing and retreating warm shallow seas through much of the remaining Paleozoic.
The Delaware Basin is a geologic depositional and structural basin in West Texas and southern New Mexico, famous for holding large oil fields and for a fossilized reef exposed at the surface. Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park protect part of the basin. It is part of the larger Permian Basin, itself contained within the Mid-Continent oil province.
The geology of Tennessee is as diverse as its landscapes. Politically, Tennessee is broken up into three Grand Divisions: East, Middle, and West Tennessee. Physically, Tennessee is also separated into three main types of landforms: river valley plain, highlands and basins, and mountains.
The San Juan Basin is a geologic structural basin located near the Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States. The basin covers 7,500 square miles and resides in northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, and parts of Utah and Arizona. Specifically, the basin occupies space in the San Juan, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and McKinley counties in New Mexico, and La Plata and Archuleta counties in Colorado. The basin extends roughly 100 miles N-S and 90 miles E-W.
The Ouachita orogeny was a mountain building event that resulted in the folding and faulting of strata currently exposed in the Ouachita Mountains. The more extensive Ouachita system extends from the current range in Arkansas and Oklahoma southeast to the Black Warrior Basin in Alabama and to the southwest through the Llano, Marathon, and Solitario uplifts in Texas on into Coahuila and Chihuahua in Mexico.
The Geology of Kansas encompasses the geologic history of the US state of Kansas and the present-day rock and soil that is exposed there. Rock that crops out in Kansas was formed during the Phanerozoic eon, which consists of three geologic eras: the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Paleozoic rocks at the surface in Kansas are primarily from the Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian periods.
The geology of Germany is heavily influenced by several phases of orogeny in the Paleozoic and the Cenozoic, by sedimentation in shelf seas and epicontinental seas and on plains in the Permian and Mesozoic as well as by the Quaternary glaciations.
The geology of Morocco formed beginning up to two billion years ago, in the Paleoproterozoic and potentially even earlier. It was affected by the Pan-African orogeny, although the later Hercynian orogeny produced fewer changes and left the Maseta Domain, a large area of remnant Paleozoic massifs. During the Paleozoic, extensive sedimentary deposits preserved marine fossils. Throughout the Mesozoic, the rifting apart of Pangaea to form the Atlantic Ocean created basins and fault blocks, which were blanketed in terrestrial and marine sediments—particularly as a major marine transgression flooded much of the region. In the Cenozoic, a microcontinent covered in sedimentary rocks from the Triassic and Cretaceous collided with northern Morocco, forming the Rif region. Morocco has extensive phosphate and salt reserves, as well as resources such as lead, zinc, copper and silver.
The geology of Ohio formed beginning more than one billion years ago in the Proterozoic eon of the Precambrian. The igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rock is poorly understood except through deep boreholes and does not outcrop at the surface. The basement rock is divided between the Grenville Province and Superior Province. When the Grenville Province crust collided with Proto-North America, it launched the Grenville orogeny, a major mountain building event. The Grenville mountains eroded, filling in rift basins and Ohio was flooded and periodically exposed as dry land throughout the Paleozoic. In addition to marine carbonates such as limestone and dolomite, large deposits of shale and sandstone formed as subsequent mountain building events such as the Taconic orogeny and Acadian orogeny led to additional sediment deposition. Ohio transitioned to dryland conditions in the Pennsylvanian, forming large coal swamps and the region has been dryland ever since. Until the Pleistocene glaciations erased these features, the landscape was cut with deep stream valleys, which scoured away hundreds of meters of rock leaving little trace of geologic history in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.
The geology of Wyoming includes some of the oldest Archean rocks in North America, overlain by thick marine and terrestrial sediments formed during the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic, including oil, gas and coal deposits. Throughout its geologic history, Wyoming has been uplifted several times during the formation of the Rocky Mountains, which produced complicated faulting that traps hydrocarbons.
The geology of Utah includes rocks formed at the edge of the proto-North American continent during the Precambrian. A shallow marine sedimentary environment covered the region for much of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, followed by dryland conditions, volcanism and the formation of the basin and range terrain in the Cenozoic. Utah is a state in the western United States.
The geology of Colorado was assembled from island arcs accreted onto the edge of the ancient Wyoming Craton. The Sonoma orogeny uplifted the ancestral Rocky Mountains in parallel with the diversification of multicellular life. Shallow seas covered the regions, followed by the uplift current Rocky Mountains and intense volcanic activity. Colorado has thick sedimentary sequences with oil, gas and coal deposits, as well as base metals and other minerals.
The geology of North Dakota includes thick sequences oil and coal bearing sedimentary rocks formed in shallow seas in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, as well as terrestrial deposits from the Cenozoic on top of ancient Precambrian crystalline basement rocks. The state has extensive oil and gas, sand and gravel, coal, groundwater and other natural resources.
The geology of Montana includes thick sequences of Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks overlying ancient Archean and Proterozoic crystalline basement rock. Eastern Montana has considerable oil and gas resources, while the uplifted Rocky Mountains in the west, which resulted from the Laramide orogeny and other tectonic events have locations with metal ore.
The geology of Laos includes poorly defined oldest rocks. Marine conditions persisted for much of the Paleozoic and parts of the Mesozoic, followed by periods of uplift and erosion. The country has extensive salt, gypsum and potash, but very little hydrocarbons and limited base metals.
The geology of Croatia includes Precambrian rocks, covered over by younger sedimentary rocks and deformed or superimposed by tectonic activity.
The geology of the United Arab Emirates includes very thick Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic marine and continental sedimentary rocks overlying deeply buried Precambrian. The region has extensive oil and gas resources and was deformed during the last several million years by more distant tectonic events.