Preliminary Assessment of Nonfuel Minerals on the Texas Continental Shelf

Access full-text files



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



As part of a passive continental margin with a long depositional history, the Texas continental shelf has been richly endowed with mineral resources. Exploitation of oil and gas resources on the shelf extends back decades, and the economic value of these deposits has long been recognized. The depositional setting that made the Texas offshore so rich in hydrocarbons has left it barren of exotic nonfuel minerals such as those found in active tectonic settings near Hawaii and at the Juan de Fuca Ridge along the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, there are significant accumulations of potentially economic nonfuel minerals in the Texas Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The most promising of these are sand and gravel deposited on the continental shelf during the sea-level fluctuations of the late Pleistocene and Holocene.

Requirements for sand and gravel, created by the burgeoning Texas coastal population and the need for compatible sands for beach nourishment projects, such as those contemplated for rapidly eroding beaches at North Padre Island, the Brazos delta, and Galveston Island, combined with the depletion of nearby onshore sand and gravel resources, could make shelf mining operations economically feasible in the future. Before economic feasibility can be determined, however, the local, size, and character of potentially economic shelf deposits must be assessed.


LCSH Subject Headings