North Carolina. State Geologist.

Report of Professor Emmons, on his geological survey of North Carolina [electronic resource] online

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the ability of her neighbors to compete successlully with
her for the next five years.

There is another fact worth recording: Edgecombe has
many men who have been educated at her excellent Uni-


versity, who regard agriculture a befitting profession for
an educated man an example which the friends of agri-
culture will be pleased to see imitated in other parts of
this Republic.

25. The Marl beds at Rocky Mount belong to the
same age as the preceding. They are the blue shelly bed*
frequently furnishing that large scollop or feature, which is
regarded as characteristic of the middle tertiary. The ap-
pearance of granite and sienite at Rocky Mount, has pro-
duced a series of falls in the Tau river ; and sometimes the
marl is found resting immediately upon those pyro-crystal-
line rocks. The beds are associated with the following
strata :

1. Above the marl, stratum of sand and rounded peb-
bles, which is ten feet thick.

2. Marl somewhat sandy, but impervious to water, and
hence, the surface water percolates through the upper
mass and is thrown out by the marl. The upper is
made up of fine or small shells, like that of Mr. Ham's

' of Goldsboro'. The lower is intermixed with the
large scollops and clams ( Venus difformis.)

The marl, like that of other beds, is rich in lime, and of-
ten consolidated or cemented in different parts of the struc-
ture. The whole thickness of the shelly strata is seven
feet. The marl is sometimes charged with rounded peb-
bles of different sizes. The position of the marl is upon
the banks of the Tau ; several beds appearing in the banks
near the falls, or at one-half, and also, about one mile, below
the railroad bridge. There are points where excavations
have been made, but it is probably continuous for nearly a
mile. Whenever there is an undulation by which the
strata are elevated even a few feet, there the marl appears
in the banks. Rounded stone and pebbles are strewed over
. the surface in great abundance, but this fact is no indication

that currents have swept over the country in a certain di-
rection. Some oi the soil at Rocky Mount is light and re-
quires the application of marl to give it more retentiveness,
as well as to furnish a fertilizer to supply the waste to which
the lands have been subjected.

The marl strata reappear at Tarhoro', at many points ;
sometimes on the river banks, and sometimes in the banks
of creeks. One of the important beds is near the vil-
lage, and belongs to Mr. Bullock.

The section which contains the marl, is made up of

1. Sand which extends below the water of the creek.

2. Clay with lignite, three or four feet.
. 3. Marl, seven or eight feet.

4. Sand and clay without fossil, or only a few casts.

5. Sand, gravel and soil.

The marl is intermixed with coprolites, a few bones, and
water- worn pebbles mostly at the bottom of the bed. There
is the same tendency to consolidation as at Rocky Mount,
and at other places on the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers: The
same shells, consisting of large pectens, (Pecten Madiso.
nius,) Venus Difformis, and two or three species of Pec-
tunculus. Masses of sulphuret of iron are not uncommon.

The marl of this bed is composed of

Sand or silex, 56.25

Phosphate of lime and oxide of iron

and alumina,
Carbonate of iron,
Organic matter and water,

Mr. Bridge* Marl.

It will be observed, that rather more than one-half must
be set down as useless matter. The analysis was made of


that portion containing the small bivalve shells, and as
many of the shells are rejected as convenient ; there will,
therefore, be more lime than is given in the analysis, by
three or four per cent. It is, perhaps, unnecessary, to re-
mark, that the finer the material the better; that the marl
with small bivalves, is better than the marl with large ones.
The latter when abundant is better for quick lime.

Mr. Knight's mail bed is three miles from the village,
and has been extensively employed in marling : It is upon
the banks of the Tau.

I obtained the following section of its beds :

1. Sand and gravel at ihe river's edge.

2. Sandy marl.

3. Marl with shell, six feet.

4. Greenish or blue clay, six feet, containing casts of
shells only.

5. Sand.

The whole thickness is about thirty feet.

This bed has furnished many large bones, both of Saurians
and land quadruped, principally of the Mastodon. This
bed has been regarded as equal to the best of the varieties
of shell marl. Sand seems to be a constant associate of
the marls. It occurs both above and below the stratum
of shells. In this respect there is a general uniformity in
the marl deposits in the different vallies the Cape Fear,
tht Neuse, and the Tau. The intermixture of sand is the
material which diminishes or changes this value. Though
coarse shells, as the large scollops and clams, together with
certain species of oyster, constitute a poor kind of marl
these resist for a long time the action of the weather.
Where these have abounded, I have heard unfavorable re-
ports of the effects upon the soil ; or, at least, the good
and advantage expected were not realized. This all goes
to show the importance of a comminution of the material :


it favors solubility. Those agents, as water and carbonic
acid, act with more energy, and the power oi absorption is
increased in the substances themselves.

2f. Where the coarser marls are necessarily employed,

the advantages of a crusher is obvious. Plaster is opera-
tive immediately, because it is ground fine ; if it were more
in the condition of coarse shot, its effects would not be ap-
parent on most of soils. The subject of comminution is
one of considerable interest in husbandry. It is not expec-
ted, however, that soils can be ground or comminuted, ex-
cept through and by the action o^ he weather. The marls
which are coarse, however, when made into composts, will
be improved materially, especially when these composts are
composed of organic matter, which liberates carbonic acid.
Frequent stirring is also important. Another mode is by
the application of marl. Exfoliation of the large shells
beo-iiis at once ; the loss of organic matter is replaced by
water, and the whole becomes porous. One fact worthy of
notice, is, that mixtures are always more valuable than sim-
ple bodies ; even phosphate of lime is more active and ben-
eficial when intermixed with materials constituting acorn-
post, or intermingled with a compost. The constitution of
man and animals requires mixture. We have seen that the
soil is eminently a compound mass; and when food is taken
into the stomach, there are agents which assist its recep-
tion in large quantities into the system. So long as we
have regard to the necessities of plants, we can hardly form
a mass of compost, too complex in its constitution, or which
shall consist of too many elements, and I think it highly-
probable that many failures have arisen from neglecting the

aid to be derived from intermixture.

26. The marl of Mr. Bullock's, near Tarboro', and upon

his home plantation, has been fairly tested, and proves

The section of the slope in which it occurs, is represen.
ted by the following beds, beginning with the lowest :


1. Sand.

2. Marl, with shells, scollops, &c., 3^- feet.

3. Blue compact clay, which contains decomposing py-

4. Sand and clay, in alternating layers, mostly destitute
of fossils, 5 feet.

5. Sand.

The blue or greenish marl of Mr. Bullock's plantation
has the following composition :

Sand, 34.40
Phosphate of lime and oxide of iron, 3.20

Carbonate of lime, 54.52

Magnesia, 1.50

Potash, trace.

Soda, trace.

Organic matter, 4.88

Water, 1.38


Mr. Bullock's plantation consists of rather more than
one thousand acres. It lies in a great bend of the Tau
river. From the river, to the higher ground, there are four
distinct but low terraces. The average crop of seed cotton
is about twelve hundred pounds. The marl is, in part,
composted ; it is, however, allowed to be exposed to the
weather, and undergoes certain mechanical as well as
chemical changes, prior to use. Probably, it is always im-
portant to give the marl air, as it may be termed, before it
is spread upon the soil, even if no mechanical change is
effected by it.

Marl, which is a year old, is much better than when
taken from the pit, and spread immediately upon the soil,
especially if it is turned over three or four times during
the year.


23 The improvements of the Panola plantation, under the
direct supervision of its intelligent proprietors, Messrs..
Norfleet & Dancy, exhibit something of the spirit which
pervades Edgecornbe. * ^

The plantation was old, and was purchased for $65 per
acre, and consists of 908 acres, 550 of which is now under
cultivation Its former proprietor had pursued the system
of rest so common in the South, without a thought of pro-
viding for the future, when the most valuable parts of the
soil had been converted into corn, cotton and bacon, and
sold in a distant market. Its new proprietors, on making
this purchase, were aware that the old system could not be
pursued, and they were well satisfied that the only system
which could renovate the soil, though originally good,
was to supply an abundance of fertilizers or manures. The
plantation rises in three or four terraces from the river, the
lowest of which is often overflown with the high water of
the river. Logs, flood wood and trash cover the lower
terrace, and occupy the low ravines. By a judicious ap-
plication of the force of only fcwo laborers, three thousand
bushels of ashes were made in two weeks from this refuse
wood. In addition to this important fertilizer, twenty
thousand loads of compost were made, consisting ol cotton
seed, stable manure and river sediment, and the m*uck of
ditches. Ample manures were taken for draining, by a
free opening and deepening of the old ditches. The main
body of the land is rolling, the higher parts are sandy, and
the lower formed of a clay loam.

The points worthy of notice, are the preparations for a
productive farming, and the expenditure of capital for this
purpose; and, although it would seem, that the plantation
itself had furnished a large amount of material, at a trifling
cost, still, bones and guano were also prepared at a cost of
$52 per ton, and bone dust, at fifty cents per bushel, in
New York.


29. The first and important lesson, which the agricultu-
rist should learn, is, that he must supply his land with ma-
. nure, and if any planter will calculate the cost of a full-
supply of manure, and then the cost of new clearings,
required by the old system of husbandry, he will find it
cheaper, and hence, more economical to make atid buy
manures, than to clear up his plantation, for the purpose
of cultivating new lands, and those which have been par-
tially restored by rest. The improvements of the Panola
plantation do not terminate in furnishing an ample supply
of manures. The removal of the cabins to an airy, healthy
and central position, is one of the most important improve-
ments. The arrangements, too, of the out-houses and
water sinks, so as to save nitrogenous matter, with their
phosphates, is another step in improvement, worthy of imi-
tation by others. So, also, it is made the special business
of some one or two laborers, to collect all matters which
may be used as a fertilizer. But I need not dwell upon
other rninutiaB of the improvements designed to secure, in
the end, a profitable investment of capital. Considered in
the light of a speculation only, it does not require a
prophet's vision to predict the result.

In the foregoing, remarks, 1 have had in view the fact,
that information of what others are doing is one of the
best stimulants to improvement by others. The most im-
portant results will be brought about by the successful pro-
jects of enterprising men, when they are made known. It
is a principle which applies to all professions.

Now, the season having passed, and the crops been gather-
ed and weighed, it turns^out that the cotton fields have yield-
ed one 'bale of cotton, of four hundred pounds, to the acre,
which the year before did not amount to one half of that,
and the corn lands, which, before the improvement, would
not and did not yield three barrels to the acre, have yielded,
this year, eight: a well marked and decided improvement.
The season, it is true, has been favorable, and it should be
noticed in making up the results.


30 I have one more remark to make in this connexion : it
relates to the effect on the product, when high cultivation
is resorted to. This effect is ot' the highest consequence,
and it does not end with a simple increase of product, but
also in a product of a better quality. We probably, how-
ever, understand the mode of increasing a production, bet-
ter than giving it a superior quality. The lint of cotton is
better, if produced byjiigh cultivation, than by an indiffe-
rent cultivation. Tn(iian_rftrn is better, when the land is
supplied sufficiently with its proper food. It is light, if it
lacks food in the soil. Wheat is heavier, by three or four
pounds to" the bushel, if grown on a rich soil. Barley is
sold by weight, for different;soils produce a grain lighter and
more chaffy than others. Oats vary much in their weight,
by being grown on soils differing in their fertility.

New lands are productive, and at the same time give a
superior quality of grain. Oil old lands, there is a dimi-
nution of weight, and a loss in the quality of the product :
there is more offal. Attention should be given, then, to
the quality of the cotton, as well as to the quantity. The
planter may control, in a manner^ both results, or, in other
words, he may modify results, by cultivation. It is well
known that cotton requires, a stiffer soil than corn. The
principles involved in a cultivation of these two staples of
the South, are not the snme. The object, in the cultivation
of ttiiQ:^BWi, is the development of cellular tissue. I do
not yet know the precise modes by which we can apply
principles successfully to practice. Yet, the cellular tis-
sue requires, for its development, more carbonate of lime
than phosphate of lime. Analysis of the different tissues
proves this. If this is true, it is an indication that the
marls are adapted, especially, to the growth of cotton; that
while it contains some phosphate of lime, as this is neces-
sary to all tissues, yet the lime in the cellular tissue is fur-
nished, originally, from the carbonate.

Experiments might be devised for testing the truth of
these views ; the object being to increase the lint, and
improve its quality. Has any attention been given to the
selection of seed ?- -selecting from the field the seed which
has first ripened, and which has given the longest, finest,
and most silky staple ?

The marl beds of the Tau River are exposed at points
below Tarboro', from Greenville to Washington.

31. At Greenville they have been successfully used
it belongs to the middle tertiary. Just below Sparta, the
left bank is thirty ieet high, and there is exposed a remark-
able stratum of marl. Above Sparta, the bank is too low
to expose it.

In the vicinity of Greenville, the marl beds are numerous,
Mr. Brown's bed exhibits the .following strata :

1. Sand exposed at the bottom.

2. Two feet of sandy clay.

3. Three inches of yellow sand.

4. Eight feet of shell marl, with greer.ish grains,

5. Sand, with sandy clay, of a. green color.

Mr. Britton/s marl exhibits a section quite similar to the-
above :

1. Green indurated sand.

2. Marl, six to seven feet thick.

3. Sandy Marl, one loot.

4. Brick clay, four or five feet thick.

5. Sand.

This marl is reddish, and operates favorably and quickly.
The stratum of clay occupying this position is not uncom-

63 .

mon. In fact, it is almost co ntinuous over the whole
country, though it is not always present as a covering to
the marl.

A bed on the plantation of Mr. Boyd, in the same neigh-
borhood, is about fifteen feet thick : it is overlaid by a
band of yellow clay, upon which there is sand five feet

32. Six miles below Greenville is Dr. Dixon's marl
bed, which had just been opened at the time of my visit.
It is blue shelly marl ; most of the shells are small; and the
mass is much disintegrated.

t The strata lie in the following order :

1. Marl 15 feet thick its bottom not certainly exposed.

2. Blue clay, 3 inches.

3- White loose sand, differing but little from drifting

This marl is composed of the following proportions in-
fifty grains : -

Sand, 15.70

Carbonate of lime, 27.30
Phosphate of lime and oxyde of iron, 1,60

Water, 1.69

Magnesia, .11

Potash, trace*

Organic matter, 2.94


In the ba^ks of the Tau, at Greenville, numerous flat-
tened masses are washed out of the bank. The color is a
drab, or light yellowish brown. They are frequently per-
forated by a round hole ; they have a close resemblance to
the ordinary clay stones. Coprolites are associated with
them : and I was inclined to regard them, all as coprolites :

but it proved that many of the flattened bodies are not
. coprolites. Analysis of one of them g-ive the following
results :

Insoluble matter, .13

Phosphate of lime, 14.50

Carbonate of lime, 10.50

Magnesia* trace.


The coprolites have always given potash, when tests are
applied. These substances in the Greenville beds are soft }
and unlike coprolites which occur on the Cape Fear rivei.
They are unlike them in color and form*. Most of them
are, in their flattened cakes, not much unlike a cracker in
form; though, in this respect, there is much diversity.

The country around Washington is too low to give good
exposures of shell marl. It is, however, common in the
low banks, but liable to be overflowed.

33. Mr. -Myers* marl bed gives the following section :

1. Blue marl.

2. Shelly marl, 3 feet.
& Red marl, 8 inches.

4. Brick clay,

5. Sand.

Another bed, upon the plantation of the Sheriff of the
County, was too much concealed by water at the time of
my visit. A specimen of the marl furnished Tor analysis
gave the following proportions :

Water, 1.40

Organic matter, 2.70

* 65

Sand, 28.30

Phosphate of lime and oxyde of iron, 5.13

Lime, 10.81

Magnesia, .11


The analysis contains less lime than was expected. The
shelly portions were .rejected in part ; which, had they been
included, would have given a larg r per centage of lime.
The effects, as they have appeared upon trial, were remark-
ably good and satisfactory. The absence of high banks in-
creases the Libor and expense of raising the marl.

I took occasion to visit Jones County, on my return
from the examination of the State lands in Carteret. The
Hon. Mr. Donnell, of Newbern, accompanied me, and laid
me under many obligations for the information received of the

This County has an undulating surface ; the soil has more
clay than Edgecombe or Pitt. The foundation for the high-
est improvement in agiiculture exists in its soil. Less cotton
is cultivated than in Edgecombe ; but, when cultivated, it is
not difficult to raise it up to sixteen hundred pounds of seed
cotfon per acre. Marl of a peculiai kind exists in the waters
of Rainbow Creek, and on the banks of Miller's Creek.
The marl is formed of the debris of exceeding large oyster
shells, some of which are 14 inches long, and l^ inches thick.
They sometimes weigh 6 and 7 pounds. The surface shells
are decomposing ; those deep in the beds are quite sound.
The marl, however, of these beds, is less valuable than when
composed of small shells. The testimony of those who have
been acquainted with its use is of a negative kind ; but still
I could not learn all the circumstances attending its applica-
tion. At Pollocksville, on the Trent, this marl appears in
its banks, and presents the following section :


1. Sand.

2. Oyster bed.

3. Sand.

4. Oyster bed.

5. Sand.

It is about 20 feet to the second bed of oysters. Beneath
these beds is the lime rock of the country, consisting of con-
solidated marl, having the same characters as that upon the
Trent near Newbern. In many places, its purity is such
that it makes a good lime ; in others it is iandy, and makes
a weak lime.

34. The marl of Little Oontentney Creek possesses the
same characteristics as that of the Tau and Neuse.

For the opportunity for making the examination of Little
Contentney, Tossnot, and a part of Nash County, I am in-
debted to the kindness of Mr. Myers, of Washington, Presi-
dent of the Greenville and Raleigh Plank Road.

The marl upon the plantation of Mr. Streeter was too
much concealed by water to admit only a slight examination.
The fossils, however, proved the deposits to be of the middle
tertiary. The large Pectunculus and Venus difformis, com-
mon at otjier places, were observed among other common
fossils f the formation.

The beds upon the plantation of Mr. May were also cover-
ed with water. These, in part, were sandy, and a specimen
gave only a small per centage of lime in the analysis.

As for example :

Sand and silica, 81 -20
Phosphate of lime and oxyde of iron, 8-00

Magnesia, trace.

Carbonate of lime, 5.60

Water, 1.20

Organic matter, 2.60

Potash, trace-



This marl, as poor as it is, containing less than twenty per
cent, of available matter, has increased the crops, according
to the statement of Mr. May, fourfold. It is probable, how-
ever, that this sample is not an average of the marl stratum.
The soil of Mr. May is sandy at least on parts of the plan-

35. The marl of Col. Barnes, upon the Tossnot, is
similar to that upon the plantation of Mr. Ham, near Gplds-
boro'. It is the blue marl, intermixed with innumerable
email bivalve shells, which have become very thoroughly de-
composed. The bed is eleven feel thick, covered with a
stratum of sand five feet thick.

36. The deposits of marl upon the Roanoke are no less '
important than upon the Tan, Neuse and Cape Pear. My
examinations were confined chiefly to Halifax County. The
fceds, considered as one formation, consist of the following
members :

1. Layers of decomposed rock a coarse mica slate.

2. Marl loaded with fossils, five feet.

3. Marl of a green color, with only a few shells, eight to

ten feet.

4. Blue clay, from ten to fifteen feet thick.

5. Reddish clay, two feet.

6. Gravel, fine and coarse, twenty feet.

7. Gray sands and loam.

The marl lies deep 5 and is exposed only in ravines. It is
attended with much expense in raising it. Mr. Pope, of
Halifax, has used it upon his plantation, and has made pre-
parations for its extensive consumption, and the results huve
been favorable. The soils of Halifax, having been under
cultivation a century and a half, or more than a century,
have become exhausted.


The soil of one of the oldest plantations gave the following
results on analysis :

Silex or sand, 95.38

Alumina and oxyde of iron, 1.44

Lime, .11

Magnesia, trace.

Organic matter and water, 2.45

Potash, .01


It is perfectly similar to the sandy soils of Cape Fear.
These examples of sandy soils are beyond the reach of the
overflowings of the Roanoke, which always leave a rich
sediment behind, and which is employed as a fertilizer, to a
limited extent.

The marl is also too much charged with sand, in parts of
the beds. The blue varieties gave the following compo-
sition :

Sand, 65.60

Phosphate of lime, and oxyde of iron,, 9.60

Carbonate of lime, 21.20

Magnesia> trace.

Water and organic matter, 2.60


Regarding the available matter in this marl as thirty per
cent., it should not be ranked with the inferior varieties
though the sand amount to sixty-five per cent.

37. The marl of Fishing Creek should not be passed
over unnoticed. It consists of the three varieties, the red,
blue, and consolidated marl. The blue has the following
composition :


Silex, 72.50

Phosphate of lime and oxyde of iron, 6.25

Carbonate of lime, 20.00

Organic matter and water, 1.25


This blue variety underlies, or is beneath, the red or
brown variety. The latter is composed of

Sand, * 62.50

Phosphate of lime, and oxyde of iron, 10.00

Carbonate of lime, 25.60

Magnesia, .11

Organic matter and water, 1.30


Both varieties are more or less consolidated, indicating a
favorable composition for agricultural purposes. The parts
selected for analysis contained fewer shells than the general

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