Tallahatta Sandstone Distribution

Sporadic exposures of Tallahatta Formation crop out in a belt across south Alabama. Reasonably good sedimentary sections can be found along Highway 69 north of Coffeeville, near Little Stave Creek near Jackson, and along Highway 17 near Butler (Copeland, 1968). Most of these sections are dominated by clay-rich sedimentary rocks (claystone), not the classic quartz arenite sandstone that was used to produce lithic tools. Some of the claystone is well-cemented by silica, resulting in a hard, resistant rock locally called buhrstone. This material is ledge-forming and commonly caps hilltops across southwestern Alabama (Copeland, 1968).

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Tallahatta Sandstone is the most widely distributed of the major knappable rock types in south Alabama. This well-cemented rock is a common component in stream bottoms and in surface scatter, particularly on eroding ridge tops and side slopes. In situ (i.e., stratigraphically in place) exposures of Tallahatta Sandstone are far less common.

In this study, only one outcrop was found to contain in situ knappable quality Tallahatta Sandstone; however, previous work suggests that there may be much more in concretions in the southwestern portion of the state.

Based on our study of Alabama state site file data of prehistoric quarry sites, Tallahatta Sandstone is the most widely distributed of the three major knappable stone types in southern Alabama and for which the most quarries have been identified. Four Tallahatta quarries have been recorded in Choctaw County, six in Clarke County, three in Monroe County, eight in Conecuh County, and one in Covington County. The counties within which Tallahatta Sandstone quarries have been identified are connected in a general northeast-southwest line (Counties shown in darker brown on the map.) Doubtless, other quarry sites exist and artifacts made from Tallahatta Sandstone are recovered from a much broader area.

Whether the Tallahatta Formation in east Alabama contains "knappable" Tallahatta Sandstone adequate for the production of chipped stone tools is uncertain, but Dunning, in his classic discussion of the Tallahatta Formation, suggests that it "tapers out to a few negligible stringers in the eastern part of the state" (Dunning 1964). This is supported by Lloyd et al. (1983), who suggest that "the Tallahatta formation has thinned to a few ledges near the Chattahoochee River." But they also note tools of Tallahatta Sandstone have been recovered from the Chattahoochee River Valley.

Copyright © 2004 by
The University of South Alabama
Updated: 9/5/2004
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