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Classification of Rocks in Kansas (1968)

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The Stratigraphic Succession in Kansas

edited by D. E. Zeller

with contributions by J. M. Jewett, C. K. Bayne, E. D. Goebel, H. G. O'Connor, A. Swineford, and D. E. Zeller

Originally published in 1968 as Kansas Geological Survey Bulletin 189. The information has not been updated.


Bulletin 189 is the one-hundredth published by the State Geological Survey of Kansas since its distinguished predecessor, Bulletin 89, "The Kansas Rock Column," appeared in 1951. Bulletin 89 brought together under one cover the nomenclature and description of geologic units occurring in Kansas. It was widely acclaimed and proved to be useful to those concerned with the study of the strata in Kansas and surrounding states, but it has been out-of-print and out-of-date for a number of years. A distinct improvement over Bulletin 89 is the inclusion of a graphic presentation on one chart of the classification of rocks in Kansas as Plate 1, an integral part of Bulletin 189. This was not done with Bulletin 89, and proper bibliographic reference to the graphic column prepared later has been difficult, though the graphic column has been most useful.

Neighboring states that have published similar accounts of their stratigraphic succession are Nebraska ["The Geological Section of Nebraska" by G. E. Condra and E. C. Reed, 1959 (revised by Reed), Nebraska Geol. Survey Bull. 14-A] and Missouri ["The Stratigraphic Succession in Missouri," J. W. Koenig (Ed.), 1961, Missouri Geol. Survey and Water Resources, v. 40].

Changes in stratigraphic correlations and in nomenclature are not always accomplished without argument, but agreement seems to be reached more readily than in past years. The Code of Stratigraphic Nomenclature has helped, and perhaps most of the major areas of disagreement have been resolved. Erasmus Haworth, State Geologist of Kansas from 1895 to 1915, in "Special Report on Coal," The University Geological Survey of Kansas, Vol. III, p. 95-96, stated in 1898:

"Attempts have been made to change the nomenclature of the whole Carboniferous. The old and well established name Sub-Carboniferous would be replaced by the new name Mississippian, and the well known name Coal Measures likewise by the new term Pennsylvanian. To a great extent the detailed nomenclature of the subdivisions of the Sub-Carboniferous, or Mississippian, has been remodeled with a retention of but a few of the older terms, and the introduction of new ones. Likewise the widely employed division of the Coal Measures designated by the well known terms Lower, Middle, and Upper have been relegated to obscurity and new geographic terms, the Des Moines and the Missourian, substituted in their stead. Not only this, but one writer has even ventured to suggest that the name of worldwide recognition, Permian, be laid aside and an American geographic term, the Oklahoman, be used in its place. In this way the whole of the Carboniferous, recognized alike in the Old world and the New, would have its great divisions known entirely by American geographic names suggested by American geologists to replace older names for the same subdivisions.

At this point in our nation's history it may seem a little less patriotic to adhere to the older terms and to refuse to accept the newer and strictly American geographic names. But if the former can be ignored, doing violence to all the rules of nomenclature known to science, or the latter accepted, merely on the suggestion of recent geologists, where can there be a stability to geologic nomenclature?

O tempora! O mores!

Frank C. Foley

State Geologist and Director
State Geological Survey of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas
September 18, 1968

Editorial Preface

This bulletin is a revision based upon Bulletin 89, The Kansas Rock Column, by Raymond C. Moore, John C. Frye, J. M. Jewett, Wallace Lee, and Howard G. O'Connor (1951). Plate 1 of this bulletin, Classification of Rocks in Kansas, is a revision of the chart, Graphic Column and Classification of Rocks in Kansas by J. M. Jewett (1959). Information published since 1951 has been added to the descriptions of the units and, in the case of major changes, reference to the source of such information has been supplied. Changes in rank or description of nomenclatural units has been noted, e.g., Fairport Chalk Member (formerly Fairport chalky shale member). In so far as possible, treatment of all stratigraphic units is in accordance with the 1961 Code of Stratigraphic Nomenclature, which has been adopted by the State Geological Survey as a guide. Nomenclature used is that officially accepted by the Survey for use in Kansas. Since 1958, the Survey has had a Committee on Stratigraphic Nomenclature whose purpose, among others, is to give advice and to recommend proposals for changes in geologic nomenclature within the State.

Quotation marks around a term such as "Nortonville clay" means that use of it is informal or local (or questionable). Italics are used to set off informal stratigraphic units below the rank of member. In the index, the major reference to a stratigraphic unit appears in boldface. Names of authors given in the text indicate those responsible for the revision of certain parts. For convenience in locating counties and rivers referred to in the text, an index map of Kansas (Fig. 1) has been included; in locating outcropping geologic formations, see The Geologic Map of Kansas, 1964 Edition. Nomenclature beyond stage divisions in the Pleistocene Series was not included on Plate 1 because names of units were not uniform statewide. The official nomenclature for these units is included in the text and on Table 3.

Doris E. Zeller

Research Associate and Editor
Lawrence, Kansas
April 5, 1968


Deposits of all the systems in the geologic column above the Precambrian, excepting the Triassic, are found in Kansas. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, and most of the Mississippian rocks are present only in the subsurface. The older outcropping rocks (Mississippian-Permian) occur principally in the eastern part of the State, the younger (Jurassic-Tertiary) in the western two-thirds of the State. Deposits of Pleistocene age are statewide in occurrence. The classification and nomenclature of the geologic units is that adopted by the State Geological Survey of Kansas for official use in accordance with the principles set forth in the 1961 Code of Stratigraphic Nomenclature (American Comm. Strat. Nomenclature).

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Kansas Geological Survey, Stratigraphic Succession in Kansas
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Web version August 2005. Original publication date Dec. 1968.