Barton and Stafford County Geohydrology

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Table of Contents






Geologic History

Ground Water

Records of Typical Wells

Logs of Test Holes





All of the area herein described lies in the Plains Border section of the Great Plains province. The total relief of the area is approximately 370 feet. The highest point, about 3 miles northwest of Pawnee Rock in southwestern Barton County, has an altitude of about 2,080 feet, and the lowest point, where Cow Creek leaves the area, has an altitude of about 1,710 feet. Locally, the maximum relief is less than 200 feet.

The area may be divided into seven physiographic divisions, which exhibit differences in topography, drainage, and origin (Fig. 8). These are the Blue Hills upland, Cheyenne Bottoms, Cow Creek drainage basin, Walnut Valley area, Dry Walnut Valley area, Arkansas Valley area, and the Great Bend prairie. Descriptions of each division are given below.

Blue Hills upland

Most of the northern half of Barton County and two smaller areas in the west-central and southwestern parts of the county constitute the Blue Hills upland in this area (Fig. 8). These areas at one time were joined and were part of an extensive plain that extended westward and northward. The upland in northern Barton County is the divide area between the Smoky Hill River and the Arkansas River. It is a well-drained area that has been deeply dissected by many northward- and southward-flowing tributaries. The largest flat areas that remain are only a few square miles in extent.

The upland in west-central Barton County is a narrow spur between Walnut Valley and Dry Walnut Valley. Like the upland in northern Barton County, its surface has been dissected by short streams, resulting in a rugged topography. A third upland area separates Dry Walnut Valley from the Arkansas Valley.

Cheyenne Bottoms

The Cheyenne Bottoms in central Barton County is probably the most interesting physiographic feature in Barton and Stafford Counties, It is a basin that is roughly circular and comprises about 60 square miles. It has a flat, featureless surface that slopes very gently toward the east (Pl. 4, A and B). The bottoms is surrounded on all but the east and southeast sides by steep-sided bluffs composed of sandstone and clay or limestone. The enclosing wall at the east and southeast is composed of dune sand and unconsolidated sand and silt and has gentle slopes.

Blood Creek enters the basin from the west and Deception Creek and an unnamed stream enter from the north. At the southeast is a slightly elevated outlet, Little Cheyenne Creek. Although the elevation of the base of Little Cheyenne Creek is considerably less than that of the adjoining parts of the enclosing wall, it is somewhat greater than the general level of Cheyenne Bottoms. The Kansas Fish and Game Commission and the Federal Wildlife Service have recently acquired title to all the land in the Cheyenne Bottoms and plan to use it as a wildlife-conservation area. It is to be made into a large permanent lake by diverting water from Walnut Creek and Arkansas River into it through a diversion ditch.

Blood Creek originates on the upland in northwestern Barton County, flows southeastward, and enters Cheyenne Bottoms south of Hoisington. Downstream from a point about 10 miles above Cheyenne Bottoms, Blood Creek flows in a relatively flat valley, one-quarter to 1 mile in width, that is bordered by high, steep-sided bluffs capped by resistant sandstone or limestone. Above that point the stream has not yet cut through the limestones of the Greenhorn limestone and Carlile shale and the valley is V-shaped.

Deception Creek and its tributaries are short streams that enter Cheyenne Bottoms from the north. Deception Creek has a peculiarly shaped valley that is unusually wide for its length. The valley is 1 to 11/9 miles wide and extends about 4 miles upstream. Its surface is uneven and slopes toward the stream from each side.

Cow Creek drainage basin

This physiographic division comprises the area in east-central Barton County drained by Cow Creek and its tributaries. It is a well-drained area intermediate in level between the uplands on the north and west and the Arkansas Valley on the south. The surface in most of the Cow Creek drainage basin is underlain by soft silt. Erosion of the soft silt by Cow Creek and a well-developed network of tributaries has produced a rolling topography having moderate to gentle slopes (Pl. 5C).

Included in this division is the small area of sand hills southwest of Claflin that covers about 8 square miles. The sand hills are bordered on the northwest by the Blue Hills upland and on the west by Cheyenne Bottoms. To the east and south the boundary of the sand hills is not sharp, for there the sand hills merge gradually with the surface of the Cow Creek drainage basin. This area is characterized by typical sand-dune topography having moderate slopes and hills separated by small basins. Its indefinite eastern boundary is shown in Figure 8 by means of a dashed line.

Cow Creek, which originates south of Beaver in northeastern Barton County, flows southeastward following a course that is roughly parallel to Arkansas River, joining Arkansas River at Hutchinson. In the lower part of its course in Barton County, Cow Creek is a perennial stream. Its valley proper consists only of a flood plain and is everywhere less than a quarter of a mile wide. With the exception of Little Cheyenne Creek, all of Cow Creek's tributaries of any size enter from the north. Little Cheyenne Creek heads near the southeast edge of Cheyenne Bottoms and enters Cow Creek on the south side near the Barton-Rice County line. Little Cheyenne Creek is perennial throughout all but the upper 2 to 3 miles of its course.

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  Kansas Geological Survey, Barton and Stafford County Geohydrology
Comments to
Web version Dec. 2001. Original publication date Dec. 1950.