Photograph of rock formations at Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri.

Missouri Earth Science Quick Facts

Page snapshot: Missouri State Geologic MapFossil; Rock; Mineral; GemHighest and Lowest Elevations; Places to Visit; and Additional Resources.

Image above: The “elephant rocks” at Elephant Rocks State Park, Missouri. Photograph by "Fredlyfish4" (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license; image cropped and resized from original).

Geologic Map of Missouri


Geologic map of Missouri with physiographic regions identified.

Geologic map of Missouri showing maximum ages of mappable units. Image by Jonathan R. Hendricks for the [email protected] project developed using QGIS and USGS data (public domain) from Fenneman and Johnson (1946) and Horton et al. (2017).

Missouri State Fossil: Crinoid

The state fossil of Missouri is the Pennsylvanian crinoid Delocrinus missouriensis.


Learn more about crinoids

Three drawings showing different aspects of the fossil crinoid Delocrinus missouriensis.

Crinoid, Delocrinus missouriensis. A, Restoration of the entire animal, attached to the sea floor; about 30 centimeters (1 foot) tall. B, Specimen of the crown (calyx) with arms; about 5 centimeters (2 inches) tall. C, Bottom view of the cup portion of the calyx; about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) in diameter.

Missouri State Rock: Mozarkite

This colorful form of chert consists of silica and chalcedony, and is found in the Ordovician deposits of west-central Missouri. Its name is a portmanteau of Missouri (mo), Ozarks (zark), and the suffix –ite, meaning “rock.”


3D model of the form of chert called mozarkite. Model by the Missouri State Department of Geography, Geology and Planning (Sketchfab).

Missouri State Mineral: Galena

Missouri is nicknamed “the Lead State” due to the prevalence of this shiny cubic mineral, the natural form of lead. Thanks to rich deposits of galena, Missouri is the largest producer of lead in the United States.


Image

Sample of galena from Missouri. Photograph by James St. John (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Missouri State Gem: None

Missouri does not have an official state gem. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments below!

Missouri's Highest and Lowest Elevations


Topographic map of Missouri.

Highest Elevation: Taum Sauk Mountain

Taum Sauk Mountain is Missouri’s highest point. Although it stands just 540 meters (1772 feet) above sea level, this mountain is part of the ancient St. Francois Mountains and is several times older than the Appalachians. Taum Sauk and the surrounding mountains are among the only landforms in the U.S. to have never been submerged in prehistoric seas.


Photograph of a marker sign that indicates the point of highest elevation in Missouri.

Marker sign indicating the point of highest elevation in Missouri. Photograph by Joseph Blewitt (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license).


Lowest Elevation: Saint Francis River

Missouri’s lowest point, at 70 meters (230 feet), is located where the Saint Francis River borders Arkansas.

Places to Visit


Onondaga Cave State Park

Leasburg, Missouri.


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Photograph in side of Onondaga Cave State Park in Missouri.

A cavern inside of Onondaga Cave State Park, Missouri. Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks.


Missouri Institute of Natural Science

Springfield, Missouri.


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Ed Clark Museum of Missouri Geology

Rolla, Missouri.


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Missouri State Museum

Jefferson City, Missouri.


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Additional resources


Learn more about the Earth science of Missouri and the surrounding region on [email protected]


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Simple map showing the five different regions of the South Central United States.

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