Osage Cuestas—Introduction

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Osage Cuestas--Intro | Osage Cuestas--Rocks and Minerals
Osage Cuestas--Places to Visit | Other regions

Download fact sheet on the rocks and minerals of the Osage Cuestas.

The Osage Cuestas region occupies nearly all of eastern Kansas south of the Kansas River and is characterized by a series of east-facing ridges (or escarpments), between which are flat to gently rolling plains. Cuesta, Spanish for hill or cliff, is the term geologists use to describe ridges with steep, clifflike faces on one side and gentle slopes on the other.

color diagram of cuesta topography, showing cross section of the underlying sloping rock layers

Cuesta topography developed in gently dipping, alternating layers of hard and soft rocks.

In the Osage Cuestas, the underlying strata are Pennsylvanian limestones and shales that dip gently to the west and northwest. Each cuesta consists of a striking east-facing ridge or escarpment and a gently inclined surface that slopes in the direction of the dip of the strata. Each escarpment is capped by the more-resistant limestone, while the gentle slopes are underlain by thick layers of shale. The steep faces of the cuestas range in height from approximately 50 feet to 200 feet.

Text by Liz Brosius, Kansas Geological Survey. Unless noted otherwise, illustrations by Jennifer Sims, Kansas Geological Survey; photographs by John Charlton, Kansas Geological Survey.

Osage Cuestas--Intro | Osage Cuestas--Rocks and Minerals
Osage Cuestas--Places to Visit | Other regions