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Geohydrology of Kiowa County

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Summary of Rock Formations

The rocks that crop out in Kiowa County are of sedimentary origin and range in age from the Permian Permian to Recent. Their areal extent is shown on Plate 1 and a generalized section of the geologic formations of the county is in Table 1.

Table 1--Generalized section of the geologic formations of Kiowa County, Kansas.

System Series Subdivision Thickness
Physical character Water supply
Quaternary Recent and
Alluvium 0-40± Very coarse gravel, sand, and silt comprising stream deposits in Medicine Lodge Valley and the valleys of smaller streams. Yields moderate amounts of water to wells in the larger stream valleys. (Well 73 in Soldier Creek Valley is reported to yield 180 gallons a minute.) Waters are very hard--three samples had from 316 to 1,782 parts per million of hardness.
unconfomable on older formations
Terrace deposits 0-20 (?) Sandy silt containing small amounts of sand and gravel occur as terrace deposits along Medicine Lodge Valley. These deposits together with certain slope-wash deposits probably are equivalent to the Gerlane formation. Coarse terrace gravels are believed to occur beneath dune sand in the northern part of the county. Are believed to occur everywhere above the water table; therefore they probably would not yield water to wells.
unconfomable on older formations
Dune sand 0-60+ Fine- to medium-grained wind-blown sand. Covers approximately the northern third of Kiowa County. Occurs above the water table, therefore it yields no water to wells. Serves as an important catchment area for recharge from local precipitation, however.
unconfomable on older formations
Kingsdown silt 0-100+ Light-tan to brown silt and sandy silt containing some clay and stringers, nodules, and thin beds of lime carbonate; contains loess of Pleistocene and Recent age in upper part, and minor amounts of sand and gravel in lower part. Underlies the surface in the upland area and in the Mule Creek drainage area. Is above the water table everywhere in this area; hence does not supply water to wells.
unconfomable on older formations
Pleistocene Meade formation 300+ Interbedded lenses of clay, silt, sand, and gravel that are lithologically similar to materials of the Ogallala formation, and are both consolidated and unconsolidated. Contains nodules, stringers, and irregular beds of caliche and locally volcanic ash. Sand and gravel beds of the Meade and Ogallala formations are the most important sources of water in Kiowa County, and yield large supplies. Most of the domestic, stock, and industrial wells and all of the irrigation and public supply wells derive water from these deposits, and they also supply water to numerous springs in the southern part of the county. The water, although hard, is satisfactory for most purposes.
Tertiary Pliocene unconfomable on older formations
Ogallala formation 65+ Consolidated and unconsolidated, calcareous silt, sand, and gravel. Caliche occurs as cementing material, pipy concretions, nodules, or beds
unconfomable on older formations
Cretaceous Gulfian* Dakota formation 90+ Light-gray, blue-gray, yellow, yellow-tan, red, and mottled red and gray shale, sandy shale, and clay and tan to white and dark-brown, fine- to coarse-grained sandstone that is in part cemented with iron. Contains nodules, concretions, and thin beds of ironstone. No wells are known to obtain water from the Dakota formation in this area, as adequate supplies of water of good quality are obtained from deposits above the Dakota.
Comanchean* Kiowa shale 300 Dark gray to black thinly laminated shale in lower part and gray, tan, brown, and red clay and clay shale in upper part. Contains thin beds of shell limestone and light- to dark-gray and white fine-grained sandstone. Large lens of yellow-tan to buff cross-bedded fine-grained sandstone occurs locally at top of formation. Also contains crystals of gypsum. Is exposed over a wide area in the southeastern part of the county. Most of the materials of the Kiowa shale are relatively impermeable and will not yield water to wells. The large sandstone lens at the top of the formation supplies moderate amounts of water to one well (91) and several springs. The water is similar in quality to that from the Meade and Ogallala formations.
local disconformity
Cheyenne sandstone (?) 20-94 Light-colored fine- to coarse-grained friable cross-bedded sandstone and lenses of gray to black sandy carbonaceous shale. Contains lenses of pebble conglomerate at or near base, and also contains crystals of selenite, pyrite, nodules of iron, and remains of plants. Exposed in the southeastern part of the county. Supplies water to a few stock and domestic wells in the south-central and southeastern parts of the county. Water in the Cheyenne sandstone is highly mineralized and locally is unfit for ordinary purposes.
Permian Guadalupian* Whitehorse sandstone 60+ Red poorly bedded fine-grained friable sandstone and siltstone containing minor amounts of shale. Crops out in the southeastern part of Kiowa County and in two small areas in the southwestern part. Supplies small quantities of very hard water to a few wells (74, 81, and 82) in southeastern Kiowa County.
Leonardian* Nippewalla group Dog Creek shale 50± Red shale containing thin beds of light-gray and mottled red and light-gray fine-grained sandstone. Contains thin bed of light-gray shaly dolomite in lower part. Exposed in narrow bands along the sides of Medicine Lodge Valley in the southeastern part of Kiowa County. Relatively impermeable; not known to yield water to wells in Kiowa County.
Blaine formation
(Medicine Lodge
gypsum member)
22± White massive gypsum; weathers to light gray. Other members of the Blaine formation are missing in this area. Not known to yield water to wells.
Flowerpot shale 200- Dark red-brown to reddish-purple shale containing many thin and a few thick beds of sandstone. Contains gypsum in veins and as cementing material. Not exposed in Kiowa Co. Supplies highly mineralized water to one well (55) in this area, but is not an important water-bearer.
*The classification here shown, which is used by the State Geological Survey of Kansas,
differs somewhat from that employed by the Federal Geological Survey.

The oldest rocks exposed in Kiowa County are of Permian age and comprise the Medicine Lodge gypsum member of the Blaine formation, the Dog Creek shale, and part of the overlying Whitehorse sandstone. These formations are exposed along Medicine Lodge Valley in the southeastern part of the county; the Whitehorse sandstone also crops out in two small areas in the southwestern part of the county. Overlying the Permian rocks in southeastern Kiowa County are the Cheyenne sandstone and Kiowa shale (Comanchean) and the Dakota formation (Gulfian), all of Cretaceous age. Silt, sand, and gravel comprising the Ogallala formation (Pliocene) and Meade formation (Pleistocene) unconformably overlie the Permian and Cretaceous rocks and are exposed in the eastern and western parts of the dissected area (Fig. 2). The central part of the dissected area and the upland plains are mantled by Kingsdown silt (Pleistocene and Recent) and the northern half of Kiowa County is mantled by dune sand. Terrace deposits and alluvium occur in the larger valleys.

The sectional diagram on Plate 5, which was plotted from test-hole and well-log data, shows the stratigraphic relationships of the rock formations in Kiowa County.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Feb. 4, 2008; originally published Feb. 1948.
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