The purpose of this report is to establish a stratigraphic framework of lignite beds and associated strata of Crowleys Ridge, Arkansas. Drill hole data provided by the Arkansas Geological Commission is used in the synthesis and interpretation. Areas containing lignite of potential resource value are also delineated.
To illustrate the regional stratigraphic framework of Crowleys Ridge, a cross section was constructed from logs of selected oil and gas test wells, along or adjacent to the north-south trending ridge over a distance of about 115 miles. This section reveals that lignite-bearing Tertiary formations dip gently southward along the ridge. The Paleocene-Eocene Wilcox Group forms the bedrock in the northern part of the ridge and successively younger bedrock of the Eocene Claiborne and Jackson Groups is identified in the central and southern part of the ridge. Crowleys Ridge is mantled with alluvium and loess of Quaternary age, and sand and gravel beds of the Lafayette Formation of Pliocene (?) age that unconformably overlie the Paleocene and Eocene rocks. The thickness of lignite-bearing sedimentary deposits ranges from 830 feet in the north to 2,480 feet in the south. The Wilcox, Claiborne, and Jackson Groups of Paleocene and Eocene age are believed to be fluvial-deltaic in origin.
The detailed vertical and horizontal stratigraphic characteristics and distribution of lignite beds in the sediments were determined by constructing seven cross sections from lithologic and geophysical logs of the lignite investigations on Crowleys Ridge by the Arkansas Geological Commission and private companies. Correlation and interpretation of the lignite-bearing strata reveal ten lignite beds of resource potential. These lignite beds range from a few inches to 9.5 ft in thickness and are assigned to stratigraphic intervals that are designated as zone 1 through 7. Zone 1 is near the middle of the Wilcox Group and zone 7 is near the middle of the overlying Claiborne Group. Some of these lignite beds are correlated over distances as much as 30 miles. Other lignite beds thin to a few inches thick and disappear within short distances. Four areas are delineated on Crowleys Ridge that contain one or more lignite beds each 2.5 feet or more thick. Strippable lignite is limited to 300 feet in this area, therefore, all holes were drilled to 300 feet or less.
Chemical analyses of eight lignite samples from Crowleys Ridge are on record with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Coal Resources Data System. Two of the samples are from the Wilcox Group, and six are from the Claiborne Group, but the lignite beds from which the samples were taken are unidentified. However, the analyses are believed to be representative of the lignite within the lignite-bearing sequence. The two Wilcox samples had moisture values of 36.3 and 40.1 percent; ash, 30.5 and 20.5 percent (U.S. Bureau of Mines); sulfur content, 0.3 and 1.0 percent; and Btu values, 3,910 and 4,590 on an as received basis. The six Claiborne samples had moisture values ranging from 34.7 to 43.7 percent; ash from 11.9-28.2 percent (USBM); sulfur content, 0.3-3 percent; and Btu values, 3,400 to 5,160.
U.S. Geological Survey average ash content for the eight samples was 36.22 percent, and the major oxides are SiO2 (60.75 percent), Al2O3 (15.23 percent), CaO (6.96 percent), Fe2O3 (6.65 percent), and SO3 (5.64 percent). No anomalous values were recorded for the trace element content.
Lignite is not currently mined on Crowleys Ridge. It has potential for use as a fuel for direct firing of boilers to generate electricity. It also has potential for gasification to produce pipeline gas, and for liquefaction to produce fuel oil. More drilling and analyses are needed to better define the quantity and quality of lignite beds within the four significant areas with resource potential and to determine the extent of lignite beds 2.5 ft or more thick that occur in several isolated areas.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Stratigraphic framework and distribution of lignite on Crowleys Ridge, Arkansas