Glaciated Region—Introduction

drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Glaciated Region--Intro | Glaciated Region--Rocks and Minerals
Glaciated Region--Places to Visit | Other regions

Download fact sheet on the rocks and minerals of the Glaciated Region.

The Glaciated Region, true to its name, is the part of Kansas that was glaciated--that is, it was covered by at least two of the eight or nine glaciers that encroached upon much of the northern United States during the Pleistocene Epoch, between 1.6 million and 10 thousand years ago. The first of these covered just the northeastern corner of Kansas. The second, which encroached on Kansas about 600,000 years ago, extended almost to Manhattan, and beyond Topeka and Lawrence in a line roughly parallel to the present-day Kansas River. In some places, this ice sheet was 500 feet thick.

drawing of map of northeastern Kansas showing counties that were covered by glaciers

The glacier that extended into Kansas approximately 600,000 years ago is known as one of the Pre-Illinoian glaciations. This map shows the approximate southern limit of the glacier, which carried quartzite boulders and glacial drift into northeastern Kansas.

The underlying bedrock in the Glaciated Region is Pennsylvanian and Permian limestones and shales that dip gently to the west and northwest. These rocks, however, have been covered by thick glacial deposits--silt, pebbles, and boulders--that were left behind when the ice melted. In some places, the thick deposits, which geologists call glacial drift, have formed deep soils.

Except for the glacial drift, most of the evidence of glaciation has been erased from the Kansas landscape by erosion. In other parts of North America, such as Wisconsin, the glaciation was more recent and the landscape still bears the marks of the advancing and retreating ice sheet.

During the Pre-Illinoian glaciation in Kansas, the force of the advancing ice was strong enough to break large boulders off outcrops in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota and carry them into Kansas. Reddish quartzite boulders, known as Sioux quartzite, are common throughout the region.

Glaciated Region--Intro | Glaciated Region--Rocks and Minerals
Glaciated Region--Places to Visit | Other regions