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The Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains
(/ˈwɒʃɪtɔː/), simply referred to as the Ouachitas, are a mountain range in western Arkansas
Arkansas
and southeastern Oklahoma. They are formed by a thick succession of highly deformed Paleozoic
Paleozoic
strata constituting the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt, one of the important orogenic belts of North America.[1] The Ouachitas continue in the subsurface to the southeast where they make a poorly understood connection with the Appalachians and to the southwest where they join with the Marathon area of west Texas.[1] Together with the Ozark Plateaus, the Ouachitas form the U.S. Interior Highlands.[2] The highest natural point is Mount Magazine
Mount Magazine
at 2,753 feet.[3][4]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Geography

2.1 Flora 2.2 Fauna 2.3 Subranges

3 Geology

3.1 History 3.2 Stratigraphy

4 Tourism

4.1 Sites of interest

5 History 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links

Etymology[edit] Louis R. Harlan claimed that "Ouachita" is composed of the Choctaw words ouac for buffalo and chito for large, together meaning "country of large buffaloes". At one time, herds of buffalo inhabited the lowland areas of the Ouachitas.[5] Historian Muriel H. Wright wrote that "Ouachita" is composed of the Choctaw words owa for hunt and chito for big, together meaning "big hunt far from home".[6] According to the article Ouachita in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
History and Culture, "Ouachita" comes from the French spelling of the Caddo word washita, meaning "good hunting grounds".[3] Geography[edit]

Location of the Ouachita Mountains

Topographic map of the Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachitas are a major physiographic province of Arkansas
Arkansas
and Oklahoma
Oklahoma
and are generally grouped with the Arkansas
Arkansas
River Valley. Together with the Ozark Plateaus, the Ouachitas form the U.S. Interior Highlands, one of few mountainous regions between the Appalachians and Rockies.[2] Flora[edit] The Ouachitas are dominated by pine, oak, and hickory.[7] The shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and post oak (Quercus stellata) thrive in dry, nutrient-poor soil and are common in upland areas. The maple-leaf oak (Quercus acerifolia) is found at only four sites worldwide, all of which are in the Ouachitas.[7] Some native tree species, such as the eastern red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana), are colonizers of human-disturbed sites.[7] The Ouachita National Forest
Ouachita National Forest
covers approximately 1.8 million acres of the Ouachitas.[8] It is one of the largest and oldest national forests in the Southern U.S., created through an executive order by President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
on December 18, 1907.[8] There are six wilderness areas within the Ouachita National Forest, which are protected areas designed to minimize the impacts of human activities.[9] Fauna[edit] Bison and elk once found habitat in the Ouachita Mountains, but have since been extirpated. Today, there are large populations of white-tailed deer, coyote, and other common temperate forest animals. Though elusive, hundreds of black bear roam the Ouachitas. Several species of salamander are endemic to the Ouachitas and have traits that vary from one locale to another. Subranges[edit] The Athens Piedmont consists of a series of low relief ridges, none exceeding 1,000 feet. It is located south of the Ouachitas and extends from Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Arkansas
to the Arkansas- Oklahoma
Oklahoma
border. The Athens Piedmont runs through Clark, Howard, Pike, and Sevier counties in Arkansas
Arkansas
and McCurtain County in Oklahoma. The Caddo, Cossatot, and Missouri mountains are a high, compact group of mountains composed of the weather-resistant Arkansas
Arkansas
Novaculite. They are located primarily in Montgomery and Polk counties, Arkansas. The highest natural point is Raspberry Mountain at 2,358 feet. The headwaters of multiple rivers are found in this area, including the Caddo, Cossatot, and Little Missouri rivers. The Cross Mountains are located in Polk and Sevier counties, Arkansas and McCurtain County, Oklahoma. The highest natural point is Whiskey Peak at 1,670 feet. The Crystal Mountains are located primarily in Montgomery County, Arkansas. They are so named because of the occurrence of some of the world's finest quartz. The Crystal Mountains are generally taller than the nearby Zig Zag Mountains, achieving elevations over 1,800 feet. The Fourche Mountains are a long, continuous chain of mountains composed of the weather-resistant Jackfork Sandstone. They extend from Pulaski County, Arkansas
Arkansas
to Atoka County, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
and are home to several popular sites of interest, including Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock, Arkansas. The highest natural point is Rich Mountain at 2,681 feet, which intersects the Arkansas- Oklahoma
Oklahoma
border near Mena, Arkansas. The Fourche Mountains form a major watershed divide between the Arkansas
Arkansas
River Basin to the north and the Red River Basin to the south. The Frontal Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains
are located in the Arkansas
Arkansas
River Valley and feature a number of isolated landforms. The highest natural point is Mount Magazine
Mount Magazine
at 2,753 feet, which is also the highest natural point of the Ouachitas and U.S. Interior Highlands. The Frontal Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains
are structurally quite different from the rest of the Ouachitas and are sometimes considered a separate range. The Trap Mountains are located primarily in Garland and Hot Spring counties, Arkansas. The highest natural point is Trap Mountain at 1,310 feet. The Zig Zag Mountains are located in Garland County, Arkansas
Arkansas
and are home to the thermal springs of Hot Springs National Park. They are so named because of their unique chevron shape when viewed from above, the result of plunging anticlines and synclines. The Zig Zag Mountains are not exceptionally tall, but do reach heights over 1,400 feet. Geology[edit]

Vertical strata in the eastern Ouachitas

Cluster of Arkansas
Arkansas
quartz crystals from the Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachitas are formed by a thick succession of highly deformed Paleozoic
Paleozoic
strata constituting the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt, which outcrops for approximately 220 miles in western Arkansas
Arkansas
and southeastern Oklahoma.[1] In a general sense, the Ouachitas are considered an anticlinorium because the oldest known rocks are located towards the center of the outcrop area.[10] The Ouachitas continue in the subsurface to the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama
Alabama
and Mississippi where they plunge towards the Appalachian Mountains.[11] To the southwest, the Ouachitas join with the Marathon area of west Texas where rocks of the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt are briefly exposed.[1] Unlike many ranges in the United States, the Ouachitas are mostly east-west trending. They are unique because metamorphism and volcanism, features that are common in orogenic belts, are notably absent (with the exception of some low-grade metamorphism). Due to the high degree of folding and faulting, the Ouachitas are clustered into distinct subranges, with ridges separated by relatively broad valleys. The Ouachitas are known for some of the world's finest quartz, especially around Mount Ida, Arkansas, the quartz capital of the world.[12] The quartz formed after the Ouachita Orogeny
Ouachita Orogeny
when fractures in rocks filled with silica-saturated fluids and, over millions of years, precipitated crystals up to several feet in length. The Ouachitas are also known for novaculite, a variety of chert that has undergone low-grade metamorphism; particular grades found only in Arkansas
Arkansas
are used for making whetstones. History[edit] Cambrian
Cambrian
through Mississippian strata of the Ouachitas were deposited in a narrow, two-sided basin called the Ouachita Trough, which formed as part of a Cambrian
Cambrian
failed rift system.[1][13] Succeeding Pennsylvanian strata of the Ouachitas were deposited in a foreland basin during the early stages of the Ouachita Orogeny.[14] Subduction of the South American Plate
South American Plate
beneath the North American Plate
North American Plate
resulted in this mountain-building event.[15] Compressional forces caused the crust to buckle, producing complex folds at all scale levels and several overturned sequences.[10] The area of greatest deformation occurred in the Benton-Broken Bow Uplift, which extends from Benton, Arkansas
Arkansas
to Broken Bow, Oklahoma.[1] The total height of the Ouachitas is not known, though they may have exceeded 10,000 feet (based loosely on geologic cross-sections).[10] The terrane has been deeply eroded since the late Paleozoic.[1] Stratigraphy[edit] The Ouachitas are composed of Cambrian
Cambrian
through Pennsylvanian sedimentary rocks. The Collier Shale, located at the core of the Benton-Broken Bow Uplift, is the oldest exposed formation of the Ouachitas. The Atoka Formation, which was deposited much later during the Pennsylvanian, has the largest areal extent of any of the Paleozoic
Paleozoic
formations in Arkansas.[10] The geologic formations of the Ouachitas are as follows (in order of ascending age).

Formation Period Approximate Thickness

Collier Shale Late Cambrian
Cambrian
and Early Ordovician 1,000 feet

Crystal Mountain Sandstone Early Ordovician 850 feet

Mazarn Shale Early Ordovician 2,500 feet

Blakely Sandstone Middle Ordovician 700 feet

Womble Shale Middle Ordovician 1,200 feet

Bigfork Chert Middle and Late Ordovician 750 feet

Polk Creek Shale Late Ordovician 225 feet

Blaylock Sandstone Silurian 1,200 feet

Missouri Mountain Shale Silurian 300 feet

Arkansas
Arkansas
Novaculite Devonian and Early Mississippian 900 feet

Stanley Shale Mississippian 10,000 feet

Jackfork Sandstone Early Pennsylvanian 6,000 feet

Johns Valley Shale Early Pennsylvanian 1,500 feet

Atoka Formation Early and Middle Pennsylvanian 25,000 feet

Hartshorne Sandstone Middle Pennsylvanian 300 feet

McAlester Formation Middle Pennsylvanian 2,300 feet

Savanna Formation Middle Pennsylvanian 1,600 feet

Boggy Formation Middle Pennsylvanian 1,100 feet

Tourism[edit] The Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains
contain the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs National Park and Lake Ouachita, as well as numerous state parks and scenic byways mostly throughout Arkansas. They also contain the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, a 223-mile-long (359 km) hiking trail through the heart of the mountains. The trail runs from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma
Oklahoma
to Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
near Little Rock. It is a well maintained, premier trail for hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers (for only selected parts of the trail). The Talimena Scenic Drive
Talimena Scenic Drive
begins at Mena, and traverses 54 miles (87 km) of Winding Stair and Rich Mountains, long narrow east-west ridges which extend into Oklahoma. Rich Mountain reaches an elevation of 2,681 feet (817 m) in Arkansas
Arkansas
near the Oklahoma border. The two lane winding road is similar in routing, construction, and scenery to the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
of the Appalachian Mountains.[16] Sites of interest[edit]

The South Fourche La Fave River, Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness Caney Creek Wilderness Cossatot River
Cossatot River
State Park-Natural Area Flatside Wilderness Hot Springs National Park Jack Creek Recreation Area Lake Catherine Lake Hamilton Lake Maumelle Lake Ouachita Mount Magazine
Mount Magazine
State Park Pinnacle Mountain State Park Queen Wilhelmina State Park

History[edit] The mountains were home to the Ouachita tribe, for which they were named. Later French explorers translated the name to its present spelling. The first recorded exploration was in 1541 by Hernando de Soto. Later, in 1804, President Jefferson sent William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter to the area after the Louisiana Purchase. Hot Springs National Park became one of the nation's first parks in 1832. The Battle of Devil's Backbone
Battle of Devil's Backbone
was fought here at the ridge of the same name in 1863. In August 1990, the U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Forest Service
discontinued clearcutting as the primary tool for harvesting and regenerating short leaf, pine and hardwood forests in the Ouachita National Forest. References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g Morris, R.C. (1974). "Sedimentary and Tectonic History of the Ouachita Mountains". Special
Special
Publications of SEPM. 22: 120–142.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ a b "A Tapestry of Time and Terrain". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2007-10-13.  ^ a b Cole, S.R.; Marston, R.A. (2009). Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Historical Society.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ "MAG". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2008-12-16.  ^ Harlan, L.R. (1834). "Notice of Fossil Bones Found in the Tertiary Formation of the State of Louisiana". Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. 4: 397–403. doi:10.2307/1004838.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Wright, M.H. (1929). "Some Geographic Names of French Origin in Oklahoma". Chronicles of Oklahoma. 7 (2): 188–193.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ a b c "Trees". Central Arkansas
Arkansas
Library System. Retrieved 2017-11-28.  ^ a b "Ouachita National Forest". Central Arkansas
Arkansas
Library System. Retrieved 2017-11-28.  ^ ""Wilderness Areas (Ouachita National Forest)" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2017-12-02.  ^ a b c d "Stratigraphic Summary of the Arkansas
Arkansas
River Valley and Ouachita Mountains". Arkansas
Arkansas
Geological Survey. Retrieved 2017-10-26.  ^ Mellen, F.F. (1947). "Black Warrior Basin, Alabama
Alabama
and Mississippi". AAPG Bulletin. 31 (10): 1801–1816. doi:10.1306/3d933a55-16b1-11d7-8645000102c1865d.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ " Quartz
Quartz
Crystals". Arkansas
Arkansas
Department of Parks & Tourism. Retrieved 2017-11-25.  ^ Lowe, D.R. (1985). "Ouachita Trough: Part of a Cambrian
Cambrian
Failed Rift System". Geology. 13 (11): 790–793. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1985)13<790:otpoac>2.0.co;2.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Shanmugam, G.; Moiola, R.J. (1995). "Reinterpretation of Depositional Processes in a Classic Flysch Sequence (Pennsylvanian Jackfork Group), Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas
Arkansas
and Oklahoma". AAPG Bulletin. 79 (5): 672–695. doi:10.1306/8d2b1b6a-171e-11d7-8645000102c1865d.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Hatcher, R.D., Jr.; Thomas, W.A.; Viele, G.W., eds. (1989). The Appalachian-Ouachita Orogen in the United States
United States
(Geology of North America). Colorado: Geological Society of America. CS1 maint: Multiple names: editors list (link) ^ http://www.trais.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=XFA101-040, accessed 11 Mar 2011

Further reading[edit]

James B. Calvert, 2003, The Ouachita System, University of Denver

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ouachita Mountains.

Geology of the Ouachita Mountains, from a rockhound's perspective.[dead linkdate] Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) Lakeouachita.org: Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita
— largest lake in the Ouachita Mountains.

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