Glaciated Region—Places to Visit

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.

Quartzite boulders in Wabaunsee County. Although boulders of Sioux quartzite are found throughout the Glaciated Region, a hillside in northern Wabaunsee County is a good place to see them. These quartzite boulders are metamorphic rocks--sandstone that has been metamorphosed into quartzite.

color photo of hillside covered with pink Sioux quartzite boulders

Sioux quartzite on hillside in Wabaunsee County.

Because of the amount of time that has elapsed since the glaciers moved into Kansas, most other evidence of the glaciation has since been erased by erosion. Geologists have long known about and commented on these glacial erratics in Kansas. The first state geologist of Kansas, Benjamin Franklin Mudge, thought they floated into Kansas on the backs of icebergs, and fell to the seafloor when the bergs melted.

Today's geologists think these boulders represent the southern edge of the glacier's advance into Kansas; no erratics have been found south of this location. Geologists aren't sure why so many quartzite boulders wound up on the same hilltop. One explanation (called topographic reversal) is that this ridge may have been a valley floor in the past that filled up with boulders. The boulders may have made the valley more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rock, so that erosion broke down the valley walls until they were lower than the valley, leaving the boulder-chocked valley standing as a ridge. Geologists call this area a felsenmeer, which is German for "sea of rocks." To see this felsenmeer, take Kansas Highway 99 north from I-70 for 4.5 miles. Park on the county road to the west.

color photo of gravel road through series of hills in springtime

Country road through loess hills in Doniphan County.

 

Scenic Drive from Sparks and White Cloud. In the northeastern corner of the state, Kansas Highway 7 makes its way along the banks of the Missouri River and through the vast loess hills adjacent to the river. From Sparks, K-7 passes through the old river towns of Iowa Point and White Cloud before terminating at the Nebraska border.

KU Museum of Natural History. Entering the museum, visitors encounter a wonderful hanging display of a mosasaur, a giant reptile that swam in the Cretaceous seas of Kansas. Other exhibits include fossils of dinosaurs, fishes, birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates; naturalistic dioramas of birds, mammals, and plants; live bees (in a working hive), snakes, and fishes; and The Panorama--which depicts animals, plants, and natural environments from the Arctic Circle to the tropics. Located at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, the museum is open 8:00 to 5:00 on Mondays through Fridays, 10:00 to 5:00 on Saturdays, and noon to 5:00 on Sundays. For more information call the museum (785) 864-4450 or go to their website at http://naturalhistory.ku.edu/.

Sources

Buchanan, Rex C., and McCauley, James R., 1987, Roadside Kansas--A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks: Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 365 p.

Buchanan, Rex C., and McCauley, James R., 1988, Field Trip Through the Geology of Northeastern Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 88-46, 27 p.

Evans, Catherine S., 1988, From Sea to Prairie--A Primer of Kansas Geology: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 6, 60 p.

Jackson, Julia A., editor, 1997, Glossary of Geology (Fourth Edition): Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute, 769 p.

Schoewe, W. H., 1949, The Geography of Kansas: Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, v. 52, no. 3, p. 261-333.

Tolsted, Laura L., and Swineford, Ada, revised by Buchanan, Rex C., 1986, Kansas Rocks and Minerals: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 2, 60 p.

Wilson, Frank W., 1978, Kansas Landscapes--A Geologic Diary: Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 5, 50 p.

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