Dr. Charles N. Gould (photo: Oklahoma Historical Society)
|A Note about Alibates Dolomite
by Bob Wishoff
Nestled in the
midst of the Texas
Panhandle is a huge quarry area
where Alibates chert, a
unique form of
silicified or agatized dolomite, was mined. All that is left of the
activities are shallow depressions that cover over a thousand acres.
of chert cap the bluff; there are occasional boulders of red and white
weathered chert, and millions of chips and chunks of multi-colored
debitage cover the ground. First mentioned by Lt. J. W. Abert in 1845,
for Charles N. Gould in 1907 to name the white dolomite “Alibates”
Alibates Creek (Carroll 1941:64-69; Gould 1907:9). However, in a speech
dedicating an official Texas State Historical Marker in honor of Gould,
Hertner claimed that the name of Alibates flint was a corruption of the
“Allen Bates”, a local rancher’s son on whose land Alibates Creek is
(Banks 1990:91; Bowers 1975:5). Gould (1907:9-11) described the
as comprising an upper bed of dolomite, followed by a red-bed sequence,
followed by a lower dolomite bed, and compared it to Day Creek Oklahoma
Larry D. Banks
(1990:91) wrote that
“Alibates ‘flints’ are possibly more widely reported in archaeological
literature than any other single lithic resource”. Banks (1990:91) also
“that the Alibates materials probably have received greater
temporally and culturally on a geographic basis than any other single
type.” Nonetheless, due to physical variability in physical
there is no agreed upon description of Alibates chert (Banks 1990;
1975). In Roger Lee Bowers’ intensive study of Alibates chert, he
origin for most of the chert, attributing chertification of the
secondary replacement from the silica-rich Ogallala as a by-product of
process (Bowers 1975:6). Prevailing thinking about the Alibates
that they were turned into a “blank-making” industry by the local
that those blanks were traded throughout the Southwest, eventually
“such places as the Pacific Coast and Minnesota”, but Bowers posited
a positive method of identifying the chert [would] increase or decrease
geographic range of trading” (Bowers 1975:7).
Banks, Larry D. 1990 From Mountain Peaks to Alligator Stomachs: A Review of Lithic Resources in the Trans-Mississippi South, the Southern Plains, and Adjacent Southwest. Oklahoma Anthropological Society, Memoir #4.
Bowers, Roger Lee 1975 Petrography and Petrogenesis of the Alibates Dolomite and Chert (Permian), Northern Panhandle of Texas. University of Texas, Arlington, unpublished Master’s thesis.
Carroll, H. Bailey 1941 Guadal P’A The Journal of Lieutenant J. W. Abert, from Bent’s Fort to St. Louis in 1845. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Canyon, TX.
Gould, Charles N. 1907 The Geology and Water Sources of the Western Portion of the Panhandle of Texas, Water-Supply and Irrigation Paper No. 191. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.