Oklahoma Rocks and Minerals

Oklahoma has only a limited variety of gem grade rocks and minerals, mostly agate and petrified wood.

However, Oklahoma is rich in commodity minerals throughout the state. These natural minerals, which include petroleum (crude oil and natural gas), coal, limestone, gypsum, salt, clays, iodine, sand and gravel, are found in all seventy-seven counties. Other mineral resources that have been mined in Oklahoma include shale, lime, granite, rhyolite, dolomite, sandstone, volcanic ash, tripoli, asphalt, lead, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, titanium, and uranium. Oklahoma is the only producer of iodine in the nation and produces about one-third of America's needs.

The coal-mining regions cover much of the eastern half of the state, spanning over twelve thousand square miles. The most prominent coal-producing areas are in the McAlester and Coalgate districts of southeastern Oklahoma. Some of the more successful mining towns were McAlester, Krebs, Hartshorne, Adamson, and Lehigh.

Though often thought of as small rolling hills of green, much of Oklahoma is rough and even mountainous. The Ozarks cross into the east central part of the state and die out in the hills in the south-central region occupied by a plateau known as the Arbuckle Mountains. Northwest of the area rise the steep Wichita Mountains, which has one of the most extensive exposures of igneous rocks within the midcontinent region of the United States, and the Chautauqua Mountains. Northwest Oklahoma is part of the High Plains, and the northeastern Oklahoma is a region of buttes and valleys carved from shales and sandstones.

Gold, left behind by receding glaciers, is found in very small quantities and in very small dust and flakes, in several locations in Oklahoma. These areas include the Ouachita Mountains near the Arkansas border, and the Wichita Mountains in the southwestern part of the state.

Oklahoma designated the Barite Rose its official state rock in 1968. "Barite Rose" is a trade name for a piece of Barite that has a natural intricate rose-like formation of crystal clusters. They are also called Barite Desert Roses and can be found in abundance in Central Oklahoma. These barite crystals form in the Garber Sandstone formation which outcrops in a north-south trending line through the center of the state. Noble, OK is known as the Barite Rose capital of the world.

Oklahoma designated the Hourglass Selenite as their official State Mineral in 2005. Selenite is a type of gypsum. Also known as Desert Rose, the Hourglass Selenite has a distinctive rose shape. Hourglass Selenite crystals are found only on the salt plains of north central Oklahoma, a unique 11,000-acre geological area. The salt plains were formed by repeated flooding by sea water millions of years ago.

Oklahoma is part of the Tri State Mining District. The Tri State Mining District was an approximately 2500 square mile lead-zinc mining district, located in present-day southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma. The district was one of the world’s leading zinc and lead mining areas. Galena and Sphalerite are both found in this area.

Before venturing out-do some research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.