Geologic Formations and their Water-bearing Properties
Character--The undifferentiated redbeds of Permian age are not exposed in Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties, and the only available data concerning these beds are the logs of the many gas wells that have been drilled in this area. Therefore, no detailed lithologic description of them can be given. The redbeds encountered in these wells consist principally of red shale, siltstone, and sandstone containing interbedded salt, gypsum, anhydrite, and dolomite.
Distribution and thickness--The Permian redbeds underlie all of Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties but they do not crop out in this area. The nearest outcrop is in southeastern Meade County about 20 miles from the southeast corner of Haskell County. The total thickness of redbeds exposed in Meade County is more than 100 feet (Frye, 1942, p. 93). There is an erosional unconformity between the Permian redbeds and the overlying Cretaceous or younger sediments, and the thickness of the redbeds in this area, therefore, is variable. Most of the oil and gas tests in this and adjacent areas penetrate between 1,200 and 1,600 feet of redbeds.
Age and correlation--Norton (1939) and others have determined by the study of well cuttings that the Permian redbeds underlying Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties and adjacent areas include representatives of all the formations recognized by the State Geological Survey of Kansas from the lower Ninnescah shale to the Taloga formation.
Water supply--No water is obtained from the redbeds in Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties. These beds yield some water to artesian wells in Morton County, but the water has a relatively high mineral content and is not suitable for most uses. Potable water is reported to have been encountered in a few gas-test wells in the redbeds in Grant and Stevens Counties, but no chemical analyses of the waters are available.
Morrison (?) Formation
Several test holes drilled by the State and Federal Geological Surveys in Stanton, Morton, and Hamilton Counties (Latta, 1941, and McLaughlin, 1942 and 1943) encountered deposits of green, rusty-brown, and maroon clays that probably are a part of the Morrison formation. A test hole in Hamilton County penetrated nearly 100 feet of these deposits. The formation also crops out at Two Buttes in eastern Colorado and has been encountered in test holes in Norton County near the Kansas-Nebraska line.
Test hole 9 in northwestern Grant County encountered 6.5 feet of greenish-gray clayey shale before entering the Permian redbeds. This material is believed to be a part of the Morrison formation and probably represents the easternmost extension of this formation in southwestern Kansas. It has not been encountered in test holes in Kearny, Finney, or eastern Morton Counties nor in any other part of the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area. No wells in this area obtain water from these beds.
For a review of the history of the naming of the early Cretaceous units in Kansas the reader is referred to a report by Waite (1942, pp. 135-137.) Plummer and Romary (1942, p. 319) have redefined and subdivided the Dakota formation according to the present usage of the State Geological Survey of Kansas. The usage of the terms Cheyenne sandstone, Kiowa shale, and Dakota formation is followed in this report.
The Cheyenne and Kiowa formations crop out in Kiowa and Comanche Counties and the Dakota crops out in many isolated areas in the southwestern part of the state. All pre-Graneros Cretaceous sediments containing marine fossils are considered by the State Geological Survey of Kansas to be the Kiowa shale. The nonmarine sediments below the Kiowa shale are called Cheyenne sandstone and the nonmarine sediments above are called the Dakota formation. Inasmuch as the dividing line between these formations is based on paleontological evidence, it is in many places difficult to determine the contact between the Kiowa shale and the Cheyenne or Dakota formations. It is even more difficult, if not impossible, to determine accurately the contacts from test-hole cuttings; nevertheless, an attempt has been made in this report (Pl. 3) to differentiate the three formations by the lithology of well cuttings. It is realized that the exact contacts cannot be determined because of the absence of remains of fossils in the well cuttings, but it is believed that the contacts shown in Plate 3 are approximately correct. Test holes in this area penetrated approximately 100 feet of brown to buff sandstone and varicolored clay, which were referred to the Dakota formation, but in some places a few feet of sandstone at the base may represent a sandstone lens in the Kiowa shale. Beneath the Dakota formation the test drill penetrated a thick section of gray to black shale which was called the Kiowa shale. Below this, a few test holes penetrated fine to coarse white quartz sand which was called Cheyenne sandstone (Pl. 3).
Character--The Cheyenne sandstone does not crop out in Grant, Haskell, or Stevens Counties, but it was encountered in several test holes in Grant and Haskell Counties (Pl. 3). The nearest areas of outcrop of the Cheyenne are in southeastern Colorado and southern Kansas where it is principally white to yellow quartz sandstone of medium to coarse grain. The formation also contains subordinate amounts of shale, and in Kiowa County it is conglomeratic near the base (Latta, in press). The material encountered in the test holes drilled by the State and Federal Geological Surveys was principally white very fine- to coarse-grained quartz sandstone. The sandstone was friable to tightly cemented and, contained a small amount of gray-green clay.
Distribution and thickness--The Cheyenne sandstone underlies most of the north half of Grant and Haskell Counties (Pl. 3 and Fig. 8), but it has not been encountered in test holes in Stevens County. The Cheyenne also has been encountered in test holes in northwestern Morton County, northern Stanton County, and in Hamilton County, and crops out in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Baca County, Colorado, and in Kiowa and Comanche Counties, Kansas. The Cheyenne sandstone ranges in thickness from a featheredge to more than 100 feet in the northwestern part of the area. The maximum thickness penetrated by test holes in this area was 77 feet. The Cheyenne attains a thickness of 70 feet in Cimarron County, Oklahoma (Schoff and Stovall, 1943); 50 feet at Two Buttes, in southeastern Colorado; and 95 feet in southern Kiowa County, Kansas (Latta, in press).
Age and correlation--The Cheyenne sandstone does not crop out in the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area, and no fossils were encountered in the test holes that penetrated the formation; hence the age of these beds must be determined by correlation with lithologically similar beds in adjacent areas. These beds are very similar in lithology to the lower member (Cheyenne sandstone member) of the, Purgatoire formation of southeastern Colorado, northeastern New Mexico, and the panhandle of Oklahoma, and they resemble closely the Cheyenne sandstone of Kiowa and Comanche Counties, Kansas. The stratigraphic position of the sandstone below a dark shale that is believed to be correlative with the Kiowa shale and with the Kiowa shale member of the Purgatoire formation also aids in its correlation.
Marine fossils collected from the Cheyenne sandstone member of the Purgatoire formation in Texas and Cimarron Counties, Oklahoma, are believed by Stanton (Schoff, 1939, p. 55) and Bullard (1928, p. 116) to be of Washita (Lower Cretaceous) age.
Origin--A marine origin of the Cheyenne sandstone member of the Purgatoire formation in Texas and Cimarron Counties, Oklahoma, is implied by the presence of marine fossils in those beds. In Comanche and Kiowa Counties, Kansas, however, a nonmarine origin of the Cheyenne sandstone is indicated by discontinuous bedding, cross-lamination, the absence of marine fossils, and the presence of land plants. The Cheyenne sandstone in Kansas is believed to be of continental origin, and all Lower Cretaceous sediments containing marine fossils are referred to the Kiowa shale by the State Geological Survey of Kansas.
Water supply--No wells in the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area obtain water from the Cheyenne sandstone, but a few wells obtain water from these beds in southwestern Stanton County (Latta, 1941, p. 72) and in northwestern Morton County (McLaughlin, 1942, p. 76). The Cheyenne sandstone also yields water to several flowing wells in the vicinity of Coolidge in Hamilton County. The Cheyenne is overlain in all of Grant and Haskell Counties by thick deposits of more permeable water-bearing material, and wells can obtain adequate quantities of water without being drilled into the underlying Cheyenne (Pl. 3).
Character--The Kiowa shale does not crop out in the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area but it has been encountered in several test holes and is known to underlie the northern part of Grant and Haskell Counties (Pl. 3). The Kiowa shale encountered in test holes in Grant and Haskell Counties consists almost entirely of dark-gray to black laminated shale which is in part calcareous. A few test holes encountered thin beds of fine-grained sandstone. At the type locality in Kiowa County the Kiowa shale contains several thin beds of fossiliferous limestone, but none of these were noted in the well cuttings from test holes in Grant and Haskell Counties. The Kiowa shale, where exposed, generally is conformable on the Cheyenne sandstone, but there are a few seemingly local disconformities.
Distribution and thickness--The Kiowa shale underlies the northern part of Grant and Haskell Counties (Fig. 8 and Pl. 3). Test holes drilled by the State and Federal Geological Surveys indicate that it also underlies the northern part of Meade County, most of Gray, Finney, Kearny, and Hamilton Counties, northern and western Stanton County, and northwestern Morton County. The nearest outcrops of the Kiowa shale are in Clark, Kiowa, and Comanche Counties.
The Kiowa shale in Grant and Haskell Counties ranges in thickness from a featheredge to 133 feet in test hole 18 (log 18). The shale ranges in thickness from 67 to 115 feet in Stanton County (Latta, 1941), 35 to 85 feet in Morton County, 49 to 131 feet in Hamilton County, and has a maximum reported thickness of 308 feet in Kiowa County (Latta, in press).
Age and correlation--No fossils were obtained from cuttings from the test holes in this area; hence, the shale must be correlated by lithology and stratigraphic position. The predominance of black shale in this formation, together with its position above a white sandstone (Cheyenne) and below brown sandstone and varicolored clay (Dakota), indicates that the bed of shale is equivalent to the Kiowa shale in Kiowa County.
Water supply--The Kiowa shale yields no water to wells in Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties. The formation is relatively impermeable and is overlain by thick deposits of water-bearing materials that yield adequate quantities of water to wells.
Character--The character of the Dakota formation in this area was determined by the study of cuttings from 28 test holes that penetrated these beds. The formation consists principally of buff, yellow-brown, and brown sandstone and varicolored clay. The sandstone generally consists of very fine-grained to medium-grained quartz sand, which has been coated primarily by iron oxide. Concretions of ironstone and fragments of charcoal are common. The clay ranges in color from gray to various shades of brown, red, and purple and generally is sandy. Where the Dakota formation crops out in adjacent areas the sandstone usually is poorly bedded, and in places it is strongly ripple-marked and cross-bedded. The cementing material in the sandstones generally is iron oxide, although in parts of Kearny and Morton Counties silica is the principal cement.
The Dakota formation in this and adjacent areas is about one-half sandstone and one-half clay. Test holes in the Dakota formation in Hamilton County encountered 55 to 60 percent sandstone, and outcrops of the Dakota formation in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, consist of about three-fourths sandstone and one-fourth clay (Schoff and Stovall, 1943). In north-central Kansas the dominant rock constituents of the Dakota formation are clay, shale, and siltstone instead of sandstone (Plummer and Romary, 1942).
Distribution and thickness--The Dakota formation underlies all of Grant County, all but the southeastern corner of Haskell County, and a part of northern Stevens County (Pl. 3 and Fig. 8). The formation also underlies northwestern Seward County, much of Gray, Finney, Kearny, Hamilton, and Stanton Counties, and the northern half of Morton County. It is absent in southern Morton County and in much of Stevens, Seward, and Meade Counties.
The thickness of the Dakota formation in the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area ranges from a featheredge at its southern limit to more than 100 feet. Test hole 30 (log 30) encountered 152 feet of Dakota. After deposition of the Dakota formation, the area was eroded so that probably there is not a complete section of the Dakota formation in this area except in northeastern Haskell County where the Dakota is overlain by the Graneros shale. Test hole 6 (log 6) which was drilled in that area (Pl. 3) did not penetrate the entire formation. The Dakota is thin near its southern limit and where it has been eroded in Pliocene drainageways (Fig. 10). In test hole 7 (log 7) in northwestern Haskell County, which was drilled in one of these drainageways, the Dakota was absent and the drill encountered Kiowa shale below the undifferentiated Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits.
The exposed thickness of the Dakota formation is about 30 feet in Hamilton County, 49 feet in Kiowa County (Latta, in press) and 185 feet in Cimarron County, Oklahoma (Schoff and Stovall, 1943). These beds seem to thicken toward the northeast, inasmuch as Plummer and Romary (1942, p. 330) report more than 300 feet of Dakota in Lincoln County in north-central Kansas.
Age and correlation--The age and correlation of the Dakota formation are discussed briefly under the introduction to the section on the Cretaceous system on page 104.
Water supply--The Dakota formation yields little or no water to wells in Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties. It is overlain in this area by thick deposits of saturated materials of Pliocene and Pleistocene age which yield adequate supplies of water to most wells. A few of the irrigation wells in northwestern Grant County may have been drilled a few feet into the Dakota formation and they may obtain a small part of their water from it, but the quantity of water derived from this formation probably is small.
The Dakota is an important water-bearing formation in some areas adjacent to Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties. The beds of sandstone in the Dakota formation yield water to many domestic and stock wells in southern Hamilton County, in western and southwestern Stanton County (Latta, 1941, p. 79), and in northwestern Morton County. Water encountered in the Dakota generally is under artesian pressure because the water-bearing sandstones are overlain by relatively impermeable clay within the Dakota formation or by shale of the overlying Graneros shale. In the Arkansas Valley in western Hamilton County there is one flowing artesian well that obtains water from the Dakota.
Test hole 6 at the northeast corner of Haskell County encountered 31.5 feet of dark-gray to black fissile shale which probably is a part of the Graneros shale. Cretaceous beds younger than the Dakota formation have been encountered in many test holes in Gray and Finney Counties. Latta (1944, p. 40) reports a buried ridge of Upper Cretaceous rocks in southern Gray County which trends northwest-southeast, and a north-south ridge extending from near Pierceville to the northeastern corner of Haskell County. The Graneros shale encountered in test hole 6 is a part of this ridge and forms its southern edge. The Graneros shale probably pinches out in a relatively short distance south and west, for it was not encountered in any other test hole in the Grant-Haskell-Stevens area. The shale is relatively impermeable and probably yields no water to wells in this area.
Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Web version May 2002. Original publication date July 1946.
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