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Ball clay and bentonite deposits of the central and western Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain, United States

Bulletin 1558-C

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Abstract

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain produces approximately 85 percent of the ball clay used in the United States. The best commercial-grade clay deposits are composed of poorly crystalline kaolinite and small amounts of Md illite and (or) smectite. Sand and silt and iron oxide minerals are virtually absent, but quartz is present in the clay-size fraction. The best grade ball clays are found as lenses limited to the Wilcox Group (Paleocene and lower Eocene) and Claiborne Group (middle Eocene). Reserves of ball clay are sufficient for the present, but because of the lenticular nature of the clay bodies, close-spaced drilling, detailed sampling, mineralogic analyses, and ceramic testing are needed to prove future reserves.

Approximately 11 percent of the total bentonite produced in the United States comes from the Gulf Coast region. The commercial-grade bentonites are composed primarily of smectite with little or no Md illite and kaolinite. The nonclay impurities are quartz, feldspar, muscovite, biotite, calcite, dolomite, gypsum, and heulandite. Commercial bentonites occur in the Upper Cretaceous formations in Alabama and Mississippi, in Paleocene formations in Mississippi and Tennessee, and in Eocene and Miocene formations in Texas. The demand for low-swelling bentonite of the Gulf Coastal Plain has not increased along with the demand for swelling bentonite; therefore the reserves are adequate.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Ball clay and bentonite deposits of the central and western Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain, United States
Series title:
Bulletin
Series number:
1558
Chapter:
C
Year Published:
1984
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Description:
Report: 22 p; Plate: 26.21 x 25.33 inches
Larger Work Title:
Contributions to the geology of mineral deposits
Country:
United States
State:
Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas
Other Geospatial:
Gulf Coastal Plain, Mississippi Embayment