Rocks and Minerals
ALTHOUGH QUARTZ takes the lion's share of recognition among Arkansas minerals, we have a large number of other minerals. Some are well known, others are obscure. Whatever your interest level of collecting minerals, Arkansas is a great place to be a rockhound.
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only place in the world where you can hunt for diamonds and keep what you find! Located in southwest Arkansas near the small city of Murfreesboro, this park is one of the State's most visited attractions.
Wavellite is perhaps the second best known collectable mineral (behind quartz) in Arkansas. Local collectors call it "Cat's Eye" because of the balls of radiating green structures of the mineral. Many rockhounds have told us they started their hobby by first collecting quartz crystals, then went for wavellite next.
An overview of the types of fossils found in the different parts of Arkansas. From sharks teeth to trilobites, it depends on what area of the state you are in to know what fossil remains can be found.
Attractive pink dolomite samples can be collected in many of the old underground workings in north Arkansas.
There are over 300 minerals known from Arkansas.
Minerals Unique to Arkansas
Arkansas has been blessed with enough variety of minerals to keep collectors and mineralogists busy for many years. Some 10 minerals, new to science, have been recovered by collectors, researched and described by mineralogists, and published in the literature. Some species are extremely rare, others moderately common, but they all were first identified from Arkansas samples. These minerals have been named for local individuals, well known geologists and mineralogists, one for a past Arkansas governor, and one for a geologist's secretary!
Ever wonder how minerals are named? There is now a standard format and procedure to name a mineral. Once it is realized that the mineral is a potential new species, the following data must be determined:
Physical characteristics: color, hardness, luster, specific gravity, cleavage, fracture, steak, habit or form, crystallographic system, and optical properties.
Chemistry: a complete chemical analysis by one or more methods to determine total chemistry, valence of cations present, state of hydration (how much water is in it) and amount, if any, of bonded water (H20).
Crystal structure: determined by complete single crystal or powder diffraction camera data; unit cell data.
The interpretation of all this data allows the mineralogist(s) to work out the placement of individual atoms into an atomic structure model for the mineral.
Gathering this data may take years due to various problems and complications. However, once all the information is known and interpreted, and a name recommended by the researcher(s), the manuscript is then submitted to and extensively reviewed by the International Mineralogical Association on New Minerals and Mineral Names. This international group of professional reviewers was formed many years ago to prevent and eliminate confusion in the literature.
Today all new mineral species literature must be approved by the IMAC to be considered valid scientific information. Samples of the type mineral (the actual sample which was used to gather the data) must be deposited in a recognized major museum repository. Similarly, to discredit a previously identified mineral, the information must go through the IMAC before it can be shown that a species is invalid.