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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, April 4, 2003

Survey Releases New Map of Bourbon County

LAWRENCE--A new full-color map, available from the Kansas Geological Survey based at the University of Kansas, shows the surface geology of Bourbon County, in southeastern Kansas.

The map, compiled by geologists Ronald R. West, of Kansas State University, and Robert S. Sawin, from the Kansas Geological Survey, is the first geologic map of the county ever published.

Geologic maps show the age and type of rocks at the earth's surface.

"The new map shows what bedrock layers might be encountered at or near the surface if the soil and vegetation were stripped away," said West.

In addition to the county's geology, the map shows roads, railroads, streams, lakes, coal mines, limestone quarries, and other features. Because geologic maps show the rock formations likely to be encountered in a given location, they are useful in construction, in understanding soils and agriculture, in searching for water and mineral deposits, and in a variety of engineering and environmental uses.

"We've had recent inquiries from aggregate producers looking for sites to quarry limestone for use in concrete and asphalt," said Sawin. "This map is a good starting point."

The map shows that the oldest rocks in the county crop out mostly in the southeast corner. These rocks are mainly sandstones and shales, deposited during the Pennsylvanian Period, or the Coal Age, roughly 330 million years ago. They contain several prominent coal beds that have been mined extensively.

Most of the rest of the county is covered by limestones, shales, and sandstones. These rocks were also deposited in the Pennsylvanian Period and become progressively younger from east to west across the county. The youngest deposits depicted on the map include floodplain deposits along rivers such as the Marmaton and Little Osage.

The map is drawn at a scale of 1:50,000, so that one inch on the map equals about 3/4 mile of actual distance. It measures about 48 inches by 32 inches.

Copies of the new map are available from the Kansas Geological Survey, 1930 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047-3726 (or phone 785-864-3965). The cost is $15.00, plus $4.00 for handling and postage. Kansas residents should add 7.3% sales tax on the cost of the entire order. More information about the maps and other KGS products is available at the Survey's web site (

Story by Liz Brosius, (785) 864-2063
For more information, contact Robert Sawin (785-864-2099)
Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach