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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Dec. 21, 1998

New Book Describes Kansas Rock Formations

LAWRENCE--Keeping track of the countless names of Kansas rock layers is no small task. But a new bulletin from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at The University of Kansas, will make the job a lot easier.

Titled Lexicon of Geologic Names of Kansas (through 1995), the bulletin is an alphabetical listing of names of rock layers used by geologists working in the state. It was compiled by Survey geologists and edited by D. L. Baars and Christopher G. Maples, former Survey geologists.

The lexicon doesn't just list geologic names. It distinguishes recognized names from improper or informal terms and defines names in terms of rock type, thickness, age, and rock units above and below. If known, the location of the type section, where the unit was first described, is also given. Because many of the names have been redefined or changed, a history of each name is also included. For example, the name "Fencepost limestone" is well known, especially in north central Kansas where it crops out at the surface. This rock unit was originally named "Downs limestone." By using the lexicon, someone who comes across the less well-known name will be able to realize that "Downs" is another name for the Fencepost limestone.

Using the right name for a rock unit is not trivial. "If you use the correct name when discussing a particular unit," Maples said, "everyone else knows exactly what you're talking about."

The lexicon also points out problems or areas of debate. For instance, the upper and lower boundaries of some rock layers have been redefined numerous times through the years. The history of these changes is recorded in the lexicon entry. "By highlighting these," Maples said, "the lexicon will stimulate new research."

The lexicon is not just a tool for geologists working in Kansas. "It will also be useful in any of the adjacent states that have some of the same units," Maples said. "Lots of rock units of various ages have type sections in Kansas."

Copies of the book are available from the Kansas Geological Survey at 1930 Constant Avenue in Lawrence (785-864-3965). The cost is $25.00, plus tax, shipping, and handling. Copies are also available from the Survey's Wichita office (316-943-2343).

A short extract from this publication is available.
Story by Liz Brosius, (785) 864-3965

Kansas Geological Survey, Publications and Public Affairs