Pictured is a piece of bauxite, a sedimentary rock for which the central Arkansas town of Bauxite is named. It’s also the principal ore of aluminum. At times in the past century, Arkansas bauxite was the source of as much as 90% of the aluminum produced in the US.
Bauxite is a chemical sedimentary rock that formed in Arkansas from weathering of igneous rock. During the Eocene (55 – 34 million years ago), North America was nearer the equator, and the tropical climate concentrated aluminum in rocks exposed south of Little Rock.
Following WW2, production of aluminum from Arkansas bauxite declined due to availability of rich international ores. Mining of bauxite for aluminum ceased altogether in the state in 1981, though there is still a significant quantity of reserves.
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