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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Dec. 11, 2008

Geologic Map of Crawford County Now Available

LAWRENCE--Crawford County in southeastern Kansas is the focus of a new full-color geologic map with a three-dimensional quality available from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas.

This is the first geologic map of Crawford County, the eastern third of which was extensively mined for coal in the late-19th and 20th century. The map shows the type and age of rock layers found at the surface or immediately under the vegetation and soil.

Kansas State University geologist Ron West and Survey geologists Robert Sawin and Larry Brady mapped the geology.

"This map provides information that could help users make informed decisions about land use issues and energy, mineral, and water resources," Sawin said. "For example, it could be used to help determine the extent of subsidence problems around abandoned underground mines in the Pittsburg area."

While strip mining became predominant in Crawford County in the 20th century, both strip mines and underground mines can be seen on the map. None are currently active.

Prior to 1969, when legislation was enacted requiring coal companies to level the land and plant vegetation, strip-mined land was not reclaimed. Reclaimed lands as well as water-filled pits and debris piles left behind by pre-1969 mining activities are shown on the map. Several thousand acres of reclaimed and unreclaimed land have been turned into public wildlife areas while other sections are privately owned.

The surface rock throughout the county was deposited in the Pennsylvanian Subperiod of the Carboniferous Period about 300 million years ago and consists mainly of limestone and shale. The coal beds are also Carboniferous. Sand, gravel, silt and clay deposited along the streams and creeks, however, are significantly younger.

In addition to rock units, relief, and coal mining areas, the map shows towns, roads--from federal highways to unimproved roadways--ponds and streams, clay pits and limestone quarries, and elevation contours at 10-meter intervals.

City limits of the larger towns, such as Pittsburg, Girard, and Frontenac, are outlined and the location of once-active settlements, from Red Onion and Reno to Yale and Cornell, illustrate the impact mining had on the county's development.

Drawn in full-color to differentiate rock layers, the computer-generated geologic map features shaded relief to give the map its three-dimensional look and accentuate the landscape's topography. The map is at a scale of 1:50,000 so that one inch on the map equals about 3/4 mile of actual distance.

Besides the map, the 57" x 37" sheet contains a graphically illustrated rock column, which classifies each rock unit on the map, and a generalized cross section. The cross section depicts a slice of surface and subsurface rocks along a line running east to west through the center of the county just north of Kansas Highway 47.

Copies of the Crawford County map are available from the Kansas Geological Survey, 1930 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047-3724 (or phone 785-864-3965, email and at 4150 Monroe Street, Wichita, Kansas, 67209, 316-943-2343. The cost is $15 plus shipping and handling. Inquire about shipping and handling charges and, for Kansas residents, sales tax. More information about the maps and other KGS products is available at the Survey's web site (

Story by Cathy Evans, (785) 864-2195.
For more information, contact Bob Sawin, (785) 864-2099.

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach