Geo 335 - Geology & Mineral Resources of Texas

Research Paper

Spring Semester 2008

One of the learning experiences is to prepare a brief research paper on Texas geology, primarily to learn where you might information on these sorts of topics that might be useful to you in the future, e.g. to consider issues that might be important in the purchase of a property.  A list of some acceptable topics follows.  You need to "reserve" a topic on or before March 27 by submitting to me a brief research outline along with a list of at least 3 major references that you have identified; you need to have both online and traditional published sources.  I would prefer that you submit this to me via e-mail, but paper copy is OK.  Only one student for each topic to prevent conflict for the use of sources. 


Two types of projects are acceptable: (1) a research topic on a major aspect of Texas geology and/or mineral resources (any topic not on the following list must be pre-approved); (2) a compilation on the geology of a particular Texas county.  If you choose a county topic, use the following checklist to organize your information which can be presented in a non-prose form.  Once you have compiled your geologic information and illustrations, you must write a summary of the geologic history of your county.  This summary should not exceed 2 pages and should include the major geologic events based on the "rock record" that exists in the surface and subsurface of your county.


For those who choose a geologic research topic, the following organization is suggested. 


SUGGESTED FORMAT -- will not apply to all topics

Text (about 1,500 words - roughly 6, double-spaced pages)

         Introduction -- statement of the problem, location, brief history, etc.

Significant aspects of the regional and/or local geology -- stratigraphy, structure, igneous activity, tectonic development, etc.  

         Mineral Resources (if appropriate) -- nature, production, origin, etc.

         Conclusions -- your major findings


Illustrations -- essential to have some illustrations; sources must be indicated.


See a current issue of a geology journal, e.g. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, Geological Society of America Bulletin, etc. for format for references, bibliography, tables, etc. The source of information should be cited in the text at the end of the relevant section using the format of Author, Date, and Page, e.g. (Smith, 1985, p. 112). Reference on-line information as you would any other citation, i.e. start with the SOURCE (author) and then the PUBLISHING MEDIUM (web page, internet posting, etc.). An on-line citation also needs to be dated somewhere at least to the day that the "document" was posted (typically the "last revised" annotation), or otherwise when it was viewed and printed by you. Title should be as given on the document or the subject line.  Example:  Geist, D., 1996, Some documentation and thoughts on Volcan Alcedo:  Website of Dennis Geist, Univ. of Idaho, 23 March 2005, URL:


Be succinct; use tables, charts, figures, etc. to summarize information.  Illustrations should be placed in a separate section following the reference section.



                            (1) A research topic must be selected not later than March 27; topics are awarded on a first-come basis.

                            (2) The paper is due at the start of class on April 22; late papers will not be accepted.

                            (3) All referenced material must be in the public domain and be properly cited.

                            (4) All submitted material must be typed and in a reasonable font type and size.

                            (5) All work submitted must be your own;  

See University guidelines concerning the definition of, and penalties for, plagiarism


You will be graded on your introduction of the topic, correct grammar, spelling, and format, presentation of technical information, development of the topic, and selection and effective use of appropriate references and illustrations.  This assignment is worth 15% of the course grade.




  1. East Texas Oil Field (largest in the state): production, stratigraphy, structure, nature of oil traps.

  2. The Edwards aquifer: location, stratigraphy, structure, and shape of the reservoir.

  3. The Austin Limestone (Chalk): its distribution, nature, stratigraphy, and economic significance.

  4. The lignite deposits of East Texas: location, stratigraphy, composition, production.

  5. Sulfur at Boling Dome: location, production, stratigraphy, structure, shape of orebody, origin.

  6. Carthage Gas Field: location, stratigraphy, structure.

  7. Surface and subsurface water supply of the High Plains: maps, aquifers, depletion history.

  8. Yates Oil Field (second largest in state): location, stratigraphy, structure, nature of oil traps.

  9. Dinosaur tracks of Texas: locations, how formed, age, stratigraphy.

10. Guadalupe Peak: stratigraphy, fossils, lateral facies changes.

11. The caves of Texas: location, host stratigraphy, ages, geologic controls.

12. Eocene deltas of Texas:  stratigraphy, composition, geometry of the sedimentary facies.

13. Marathon fold belt: stratigraphy, structure, timing of their formation.

14. The Salt Domes of the East Texas Basin: locations, stratigraphy, size, time of emplacement.

15. The Solitario: location, stratigraphy, structure, time of development.

16. Mercury production of the Terlingua area: location, mineralogy, stratigraphy, structure.

17. Gypsum deposits of central Texas (Fredericksburg):  production, stratigraphy, structure.

18. Igneous rocks of the Balcones Fault Zone: locations, ages, composition, economic importance, etc.

19. Coal deposits in the Thurber-Strawn area: stratigraphy, depositional environments, production.

20. Fluorspar deposits of West Texas: location, stratigraphy, structure, origin, production

21. Gypsum deposits of North Texas: location, stratigraphy, depositional environment, production.

22. Palo Duro Basin: stratigraphy, structure, geologic history. 

23. Cambrian exposures of Texas: location, stratigraphy, rock types, geologic controls.

24. Graphite deposits of Texas: location, age, origin, production.

25. Discovery of oil on University of Texas lands: age of surface, age of production, depths and location, importance to higher education in Texas.

26. The Hugoton Gas Field (Texas Part): location, stratigraphy, structure, reservoir.

27. Spindletop Dome: structure, stratigraphy, age, discovery history, economic significance.

28. Talc deposits of Texas: location, age, origin, production.

29. Subsurface water resources of Crystal City and Carrizo Springs:  stratigraphy, structure, aquifers.

30. Beryllium discoveries at Sierra Blanca: location, stratigraphy, structure, origin.

31. Dimension stone of the Llano region: location, composition, production, significant buildings.

32. Geography, geology, and resources of a specific Texas county (see detailed format).










Not all of these features will be relevant for all counties, but all county reports must include a topographic map, a geologic map(1:250,000 or better detail), a columnar section of rock units, and at least one geologic cross section.


  1. Colleges, libraries, natural history museums, etc.

  2. Parks and other recreational areas -- county, state, and federal.



  3. Boundaries -- political, topographic, geologic

  4. County area (square miles)

  5. Elevation -- range, relief, and directions of slope.

  6. Major topographic features -- valleys, hills, mountains, etc.

  7. Drainage patterns -- directions and kinds.

  8. Rainfall and temperatures -- averages and ranges.

  9. Natural vegetation cover patterns.

10. Types and patterns of agriculture.

11. Soil types and patterns.

12. Surface rocks -- outcrop patterns, kinds of rock, ages of rocks, surface features.



13. Major structural features -- faults (types), folds, domes, platforms, basins, etc.

14. Geological columnar section based on surface projection and drilling.

15. Cross section(s) to give a 3-D view. 

16. Structural contour maps showing subsurface configuration of at least one major formation.

17. Age, nature, and origin of the "basement".



18. Water -- surface and subsurface.

19. Construction materials -- limestone, sand, gravel, clays, gypsum, building stones (granite, basalt, limestone, dolostone, sandstone, etc.)

20. Agricultural materials -- phosphates, agricultural lime, glauconite, etc.

21. Chemical materials -- salt, potash, sulfur, talc, vermiculite, clays, graphite, and fluorspar.

22. Gemstones -- topaz, petrified wood, agate, etc.

23. Hydrocarbon energy resources -- oil, gas, oil shale, and asphalt.

24. Other energy resources -- coal, lignite, uranium, hydroelectric, wind, etc.

25. Metallic resources -- iron, lead, zinc, copper, gold, silver, magnesium, mercury, etc.  

Once you have compiled the above information, outline the geologic history of your county, focusing on major events as recorded in the surface and subsurface geologic record.  This should not exceed two pages of text.




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