Samuel Washington McCallie.

A preliminary report on a part of the phosphates and marls of Georgia online

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W. S. YEATES, State Geologist




Phosphates and Marls




S. W.

Assistant Geologist







Atlanta, Ga.


On page 73, in caption, for " T. J. Apain's," read T. J. Spam's.
On same page, for "T. J. Apain's," read ' T. J. Spain.
In Index, for " Apains, T. J.," read Spain, T. J.
On page 51, under Fig. I, 2nd line, for "Quick-bedded," read



of the Geological Survey of Georgia


His EXCELLENCY, W. Y. ATKINSON, Governor of Georgia,

HON. R. T. NESBITT . . . . Commissioner of Agriculture

HON. G. R. GLENN . . , . . Commissioner of Public Schools
HON. R. U. HARDEMAN . . . . . . " . State Treasurer

HON. W. A. WRIGHT . . . , . . . Comptroller-General
HON. A. D. CANDLER . . . . . , \ Secretary of State

HON. J. M. TERRELL .,..,.,, Attorney-General


ATLANTA, October 12th, 1896.

To His Excellency W. Y. Atkinson, Governor, and President of the

Advisory Board of the Geological Survey of Georgia :
Sir: I have the honor, to transmit, herewith, the report of Mr.
S. W. McCallie, Assistant Geologist, on a part of the Phosphates and
Marls of Georgia, to be 'issued -as one of a series of bulletins on this

In his work on thfe Phosphates, as at first begun, Mr. McCallie
found, that the Marls wore so closely identified with the Phosphate
deposits, that it would be best to incorporate the two subjects under
one report. This bulletin will, therefore be of interest to the farmer,
as well to the manufacturer of fertilizers; and in this connection, I
desire to call special attention to the writer's conclusions, as to the
great value of the Marl deposits of Georgia, when properly applied
as a fertilizer.

Very respectfully yours,


State Geologist.




Phosphorus, the element which enters so largely into the composi-
tion of commercial fertilizers, is of almost universal occurrence, in
botih organic and inorganic bodies. It exists, in more or less abun-
dance, in all sedimentary and crystalline tfocks; it enters largely into
the composition of the bones of animals; and it is found in the tissues
of plants, being especially abundant in the fruits and grains. It never
occurs in nature in a free state; but it is always combined with other
elements, forming a number of compounds, known as phosphates.
The most important of these, is calcium phosphate, or bone-ash, which
is one of the essential constituents of a productive soil, and which is
the first of the plant-foods, to become exhausted by the growing crops.
To restore this essential ingredient to the soil, at the least possible
cost, has, for many years, been one- of the most important practical
questions, that has been presented to the agricultural scientist, for so-
lution. The Romans and the Peruvians, at a very early date, are said
to have used the excrements of birds, to restore their cultivated
fields to their original fertility. About the middle of the last Cen-



tury, we find the English farmers, in the vicinity of Sheffield, using
the chippings of bones from the knife-factories for a similar purpose;
but they, like the Romans and the Peruvians, appear to have been ig-
norant of the fact, that the fertilizing properties of bones, as well as
the excrements of birds, are mainly due to the calcium phosphate, they
contain. It was not until 1843, that the Duke of Richmond, an em-
inent English scientist, demonstrated by a series of elaborate experi-
ments, that the fertilizing properties of 'these organic manures were
caused by their high percentage of phosphoric acid. This discovery
was soon followed by the use of the mineral phosphates, which were
already known to occur, both in Europe and America, for the purpose
of manufacturing commercial fertilizers. Three years previous to
this, the first twenty barrels of guano were imported to England from
Peru. Humboldt described these deposits, and called the attention of
Europe to them, as early as 1804; and six years afterwards, Sir Hum-
phry Davy suggested, that they would likely prove to be a valuable
manure. It seems quite likely, from the reports of the early ex-
plorers of the Peruvian coast, who found, at yarious places, ancient
mines in the guano beds, containing crude wooden quarrying imple-
ments, that the value of the deposits w&s known, and m'ore or less
extensively used, by the ancient inhabitants, before the discovery of
America. History shows, that these deposits were held in great value
by the Incas, who imposed the penalty of death on any subject for
killing a sea-bird, or even visiting the islands, during the breeding

Guano 1 of the best quality is made up mainly of the excrements,
skeletons and the fragments of eggs of fish-eating sea-birds, which, in
great numbers, have found the rainless rocky islands near the coast, a
suitable roosting-place, for many centuries. The Peruvian deposits,

A corruption of huanu, the Peruvian word for dung.


the most valuable so far discovered, formerly existed in largo quanti-
ties, covering a considerable portion of a number of small islands,
where, in places, it attained the depth of more than a hundred feet;
but, owing to the extensive shipments to North America and the
European countries, it is now practically exhausted. The largest
shipment from these islands was made about the year 1870, when
Great Britain's importation alone, was valued at more than $12,000,-
000, and the royalty, exacted by the Peruvians from these exporta-
tions, far exceeded all the other revenues, accruing to their general
government. Since then, the shipments gradually decreased, from
year to year, until 1883, when further exportations were finally pro-
hibited by an act of the Peruvian government.

Venezuela, Guiana and the coast of Africa, in the last decade, have
furnished the European markets with considerable quantities of
guano ; but, as a result of the more humid condition of the atmosphere,
under which it has been accumulated, it is usually inferior to the
Peruvian deposits in ammonia, and, consequently, less valued -as a fer-

Previous to the introduction of guano into Europe, the chief com-
mercial fertilizers used, were animal charcoal and crushed bon : e, the
only form of phosphates then known. On account of the insolubil-
ity of these manures, it was frequently necessary to use from one to
two thousand pounds per acre, in order to obtain satisfactory results.
During the year 1841, Dr. Liebig, the German chemist, discovered a
process of treating bones with sulphuric acid, which rendered the cal-
cium phosphate soluble. Bones, thus treated, were found, by experi-
ment, to have increased their fertilizing property more than fourfold.
This important discovery was almost immediately followed by the
erection of the first acid phosphate factory, in London, by J. B.
Lawes, for the purpose of making artificial fertilizers from bones


treated with sulphuric acid. Soon after this, Prof. Henslow, who
had previously made a study of the Cambridge phosphatic nodules,
suggested their use as a valuable substitute for bone, in the manufac-
ture of commercial fertilizers. This suggestion was soon carried out,
with encouraging results; and, as a consequence, the phosphate de-
posits of England and France, formerly considered of only local im-
portance, were now, for the first time, seen to be of great value in the
manufacture of manures.


The Greensands of England have been used as a soil stimulant, by
the farmers in the locality where they occur, for more than a century.
These deposits, belonging to the Cretaceous period, outcrop at various
places in the eastern part of England, where they form a belt, more
or less continuous, many miles in length. They consist principally of
a greenish sand, in which are embedded numerous nodules of phos-
phate, weighing from a fraction of an ounce to five pounds. These
nodules, formerly discarded by the English farmers as worthless, are
usually of a gray or dark color, and form, with the associated phos-
phatic shell-casts, bones and teeth, a stratum, varying from a few
inches to two feet in thickness. In the counties of Cambridge, Bed-
ford and Suffolk, where these nodules have been worked for the last
fifty years, they are found to carry from forty to sixty per cent, of
calcium phosphate. The Tertiary formation of Norfolk, Suffolk
and Essex have also produced considerable phosphate, in the form of
nodules and bones; however, it is said to be generally inferior, both in
quality and quantity, to the Cretaceous deposit. The production of


phosphate in England appears to have reached its greatest develop-
ment in 1876, when the entire output aggregated 250,000 tons.
Since then, on account of the best deposits becoming partially ex-
hausted, and on account of the extensive importations of the high-
grade phosphates from the United States, the amount mined has be-
come gradually less, from year to year, until it has ceased to be of im-
portance in the phosphate markets of the world.


In 1863, phosphate was discovered in the Lower Silurian forma-
tion near Llanfyllin, "Wales. It occurs there, as a bed of nodules,
cemented together with a dark-colored matrix, containing fossil re-
mains. The average thickness of the bed is not over ten inches. A
number of mines were opened, and worked to a limited extent, in
the vicinity of Berwyn; but they were finally abandoned as unprofit-


Workable phosphate occurs in the southern portion of Belgium,
near the French border. It has been discovered here, in two very
dissimilar beds, both of which belong to the Cretaceous formation.
The upper bed, known as the Conglomerate, consists of brownish-
colored phosphatic nodules of various sizes, with fossils cemented to-


gether by calcium carbonate. The deposit is said to attain a thick-
ness,, in places, of three feet; but it is usually much thinner. It has
been worked to a limited extent. However, it has generally proved
to be unprofitable, on account of its low grade, and the difficulty, with
which it is separated from the calcareous matrix. The lower bed,
which furnishes the greater part of the Belgium phosphate, used in
making commercial fertilizer, is made up of a very fragile, porous lime-
stone or chalk, in which occur numerous small phosphatic concretions,
no larger than a mustard seed. The concretions frequently form ten
per cent, of the entire mass. They are separated from the calcareous
matrix, by washing, after having been ground or allowed to become
disintegrated, by exposure to the atmosphere-. In 1890, the mines
in the vicinity of Mons and Liege produced over 300,000 tons of
phosphate. The greater part of this output was exported to France,
England and the United States, where it was used as a drier, and to
mix with the high grades of phosphates, deficient in calcium car-


Phosphate was discovered in the old province of Guyenne, now the
department of GTironde, in southwest France, in 1865; but no mining
operations of any importance were attempted, until 1870, when a
number of mines were opened, which produced annually, for five
years, 20,000 tons of high-grade phosphates, for exportation. At the
expiration of this time, the most valuable deposits were either ex-
hausted, or were found to be unprofitable; and no mining, except to
supply a limited, local demand, has since been carried on. The phos-


phatic material is found in a grayish, compact Jurassic limestone,
where it occurs in two different sets of fissures or cavities, running at
almost right-angles with one another. These fissures sometimes at-
tain a thickness, at the surface, of 25 feet, though they do not usually
extend to any great depth, and are always limited to a few hundred
feet, or even much less, in length. The phosphate appears in a num-
ber of forms. It may be nodular, radiate, mammillary, compact,
amorphous, or even fibrous in structure. The best variety, which is
compact, and has a hardness of apatite, is of a yellowish-brown color;
but red, blue >and white also occur. Phosphate is also found in the
Cretaceous formation in the departments of Ardennes and Meuse, in
the northeastern part of France. It was discovered here in the Green-
sands in 1852, and has since been extensively worked. Its mode of
occurrence and general appearance is quite similar to the English and
Belgian deposits, of which it may be considered a continuation.

The most noted phosphate deposits of France, and probably the
richest in the world, were discovered at Beauval, in the department of
Somme in 1886. Phosphate in the form of nodules was known to
occur at various places in Somme, as early as 1863 ; but it was not until
nearly a quarter of a century later, that Monsieur Merle, a French
geologist, announced that the so-called sand, which was then being used
at Beauval, for making brick and mortar, was a high-grade phosphate.
This announcement was followed by extensive prospecting, which re-
vealed a number of deposits, in the neighborhood of Beauval, of
marvelous richness. An instance is cited, where three acres, which
changed hands for the sum of $120,000, produced 80,000 tons of phos-
phate. The area, over which these deposits extend, is said to be lim-
ited to less than 500 acres; and it has been estimated to contain 1,500,-
000 tons of 70 per cent, phosphate. The deposits are found in the
Cretaceous chalk, where they occur, as a phosphate sand, in large cyl-


inder or cone-shaped pockets, from ten to twenty feet in diameter, and,
sometimes, a hundred feet in depth. The Somme deposits produced,
in 1890, 170,000 tons of phosphate, much of which was exported.
The Cretaceous deposits of central France also produce a limited
quantity of phosphate; but it is usually of a low grade; and the entire
output goes to supply the local demand.


The phosphates of Spain, a variety of the mineral, apatite, called
phosphorite, occur in the province of Estremadura, near the towns of
Logrosan and Caceres. The Logrosan deposit was known as early
as 1782, while those of Caceres appear not to have been discovered,
until 1860. Mining operations, on a small scale, were begun at the
former place in 1855, and at the latter, five years afterwards. The
Logrosan deposit occurs in veins, varying from two to thirty feet in
thickness, and from a few yards to three miles in length. They pen-
etrate or lie at the point of junction of the slates and gneisses, which
are supposed to belong to the Silurian formation. The phosphate has
a fibrous, mammiliary, massive, or semi-crystalline structure, with the
hardness of apatite, which renders it very difficult to pulverize. The
color, however, is somewhat variable. The high grades, running
from 80 to 85 per cent, of bone phosphate, are usually of a yellowish-
white. On account of the expense of transportation, together with
the difficulty of grinding, the 'output of these mines has been limited
to only a few hundred tons per annum. The Caceres phosphates
occur in pockets in limestone and quartz veins. They have been
quite extensively worked, and have furnished nearly all the phos-



phate for exportation. In structure and color, they differ but little
from the Logrosan phosphates. Spain has also valuable deposits of
apatite at Malpartida de Caceres, Ceclavin and other places, which
have produced, from time to time, several thousand tons per annum;
but the output from these mines, for various reasons, has ceased to be
of importance.


The phosphate beds of Russia are found mainly in the Cretaceous
formation, between the Dnieper and Volga rivers, where they un-
derlie an area of several thousand square miles. The territory, over
which these deposits outcrop, is probably the most extensive known;
but the quality of the phosphate is of a low grade; and it is usually
overlaid by such a heavy overburden, that it is too expensive to work.
It occurs in the Greensands, in the form of n'odules 'and shell-casts,
either as a loose mass, or cemented togeliher into a conglomerate, by
sand or calcareous material. The deposit was discovered, in the early
part of the present century; but its value Was not made known, until
1845. Sir R. I. Murchieon, in his geological survey of Russia, speaks
of it 'as "shelly conglomerate, and concretionary iron-stone." On ac-
count of the heavy overburden and the low grade of the phosphate,
the mines, which have been, opened in the last few years, have not
always proved to be financial successes. The exports to England of
small shipments were unsatisfactory, in the manufacture of superphos-
phate. The entire output, at present, is used to supply the local de-
mand. High-grade phosphates are also reported to be found in the
Silurian and other geological formations of Russia. However, they
have not 'as yet become of any commercial importance.



The phosphate deposits of Germany, discovered in 1864, are located
in the Hessian province. The most extensive mining operations are
carried on, in the valley of the Lahn river, where two large acid-phos-
phate factories now consume almost the entire output of the mines,
amounting, at present, to about 30,000 tons per annum. Formerly,
much of the material was shipped to England, where it brought a fair
price; this trade, however, was finally discontinued, owing to the
abundance and cheapness of the higher grade phosphates, that flood
the English market. In structure and general appearance, this phos-
phate resembles, very closely, the phosphorites of Spain. It occurs
in the Devonian limestone, filling large irregular cavities, and varying
from a few inches to four feet, in thickness. It carries from forty to
sixty per cent, of calcium phosphate, and runs quite high in both iron
and aluminum.


The phosphates of ISTorway are apatites, found on the southwest
coast. They occur in the old crystalline formation, as veins penetrat-
ing the gneisses, granites, schists etc. The veins are from a few
inches to several feet in width, and of unknown depth. They dip at
a high angle; and, where they attain their greatest thickness, they
usually carry mica and hornblende, forming alternate bands with the
apatite. The first mining was done near Kragero in 1854; it was fol-


lowed, a few years afterwards, by the opening of the more productive
mines, at Oedegarden and Bamle. The entire output of these mines,
for a number of years, did not exceed 4,000 tons per annum. The
largest shipment, so far, reported for any one year, was made in 1890,
when about 12,000 tons were exported. The mineral appears, both in
a massive and a crystalline form and is commonly of a greenish or red-
dish gray color. Picked specimens yield 92 per cent, of calcium phos-
phate, the richest of all known phosphates.


In 1886, the French explorers reported the finding of extensive
deposits of phosphate in Tunis. This was followed, in 1893, by the
announcement, that similar deposits had been discovered in the east-
ern part of Algiers, in the region of Tebessa. The former deposits,
either on account of their unfavorable location or otherwise, seem, so
far, not to have attracted very wide attention, while the latter have
been pretty thoroughly investigated. Both English and French cap-
italists have made large investments, and are now constructing rail-
roads and making surveys of the deposits, with a view of beginning
work at an early date, on a large scale. Two English and one Scotch
company, which were early in the field, have already become pro-
ducers. The output of these companies, for 1894, was estimated at
about 30,000 tons. The phosphate is said to be composed mainly of
bones and sharks' teeth, which form beds, in places ten feet thick.
It averages from 60 to TO per cent, calcium phosphate, while choice
specimens have been known to run as high as 83 per cent.



The first description of the Canadian phosphates or apatites was
given, in the Canadian geological report, by Dr. T. S terry Hunt, in
1848. At that time, they appeared to attract but little attention;
.and it was not until 1863, that mining began in Lanark county, On-
tario. For a number of years, the work was carried on, in a very
unscientific way. The entire output was extracted by the farmers,
who owned the lodes, devoting a portion of their leisure time, during
the winter, to mining. The greater part of the apatite, thus mined,
was collected by buyers or agents, and was used in the manufacture
of commercial fertilizers. The result of this peculiar, haphazard mode
of mining is said to be still quite noticeable, in the great number of
now partially filled pits, scattered along the line of the outcroppings
of the phosphate veins in Lanark and Leeds counties. The first regu-
lar mining operations of any importance were commenced, by the
Buckingham Mining Company, on the Lievre river in the Ottawa dis-
trict, in 1871. These works were successfully operated, until 1875,
when a reduction in the price of phosphate caused the mines to shut
down, after which, work was continued, on a small scale, by individual
parties, until 1880, when English and American capital became in-
terested in the deposit, and large investments were made. This was
soon followed by the organization of several companies, the purchas-
ing of machinery and the beginning of very active mining operations.
In 1891, thirteen companies, with capital varying from $30,000 to
$700,000 were engaged in the Canadian phosphate industry. The
total output for that year, most of which was exported to England,
was 25,000 tons, valued at $400,000. On account of not being able


to compete with the low prices of the phosphates from the United
States, which have recently glutted the European markets, all these
companies have, since, either suspended operations, or greatly re-
duced their working-force; and, as a consequence, the output has be-
come of minor importance.

The Canadian, like the Norwegian apatites, are found in the Ar-
chaean, the oldest of the geological formations, which is made up of
granite, gneiss, hornblende, and other crystalline rocks, supposed to be
of igneous origin. Apatite, in workable quantity, appears in both
Quebec and Ontario. In the former province, they occur in a belt,
from 35 to. 20 miles wide, and 60 miles long; while, in the latter, the
belt is from 50 to 60 miles wide, and more than 100 miles in length.
Within these belts, are to be found a great number of veins, or ir-
regular fissures, from a few inches, to many feet in width, consisting of
apatite, pyroxene and other associated minerals. The veins can some-
times be traced, for many miles; but the workable part usually con-
sists of enlargements or pockets in the main vein, which extends down
to very great depth. The apatite nearly always contains foreign min-
erals, so intimately associated with it, that they can only be gotten
rid of, by hand-picking. This extra labor adds considerable to the
original cost of mining. However, it appears to be the only practica-
ble way of producing from the mines the high-grade phosphates, in
large quantities for exportation. In 1890, the various grades of
Canadian phosphate, costing on board of vessels at Montreal $14 per
ton were selling in the European markets at the following prices:

For phosphates, guaranteed to contain 85 per cent $25.00 per ton

" 80 " 22.50 " "

tt " 75 " 18.00 " "

tt it ^ n tt 7Q tt 14.50 " "

" " " " 65 " . 11.25 " "


The physical condition of the apatite is quite variable. It occurs in

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Online LibrarySamuel Washington McCallieA preliminary report on a part of the phosphates and marls of Georgia → online text (page 1 of 7)