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Western Shawnee County

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Shawnee County and parts of adjacent counties were mapped as part of a cooperative project between the U.S. Geological Survey and the State Geological Survey of Kansas. The objective of the project was to study in detail the stratigraphy of outcropping rocks of Upper Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian age. Data from the study contribute to the knowledge of the geology and mineral resources of the Missouri River basin, and may aid in the search for oil and gas in the region.

The western Shawnee County and vicinity study area encompasses about 358 square miles of northeastern Kansas. Topographic coverage is provided by the entire Auburn, Dover, Grove, Rossville, Silver Lake, and Willard 7 1/2-minute quadrangles and by small parts of the Burlingame, Harveyville, Maple Hill, and St, Marys 7 1/2-minute quadrangles (fig. 7). The area is in the Central Lowlands physiographic province (Fenneman, 1938); the northern two-thirds of the area is in the Dissected Till Plains section, and the rest is in the Osage Plains section, Eastern Shawnee County and vicinity is discussed in "Chapter A" (Johnson and Adkison, of this report).

This study was begun by H. C. Wagner, who mapped the Dover quadrangle and the west half of the Auburn quadrangle (fig. 7) in the autumn of 1954 and spring of 1955; additional work was done later by W. D. Johnson, Jr., to define Upper Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian channels in these quadrangles. Johnson mapped the rest of the area between the autumn of 1955 and the summer of 1957. H. J. Hyden assisted in mapping of the Willard quadrangle in the summer of 1957, and W. L. Adkison measured additional stratigraphic sections during the field season of 1959.

Fig. 7--Location of western Shawnee County, Kans., and vicinity.

Index map of Kansas showing location of eastern Shawnee County and map of county with eastern half shaded; also shows location of Topeka and Kansas River

The geology was plotted on aerial photographs at a scale of 1:17,000 and was transferred to topographic quadrangle maps by means of a vertical projector. The geologic map (pl. 3) was compiled on the combined topographic bases.

Rock-color terms used in this report for exposed sedimentary rocks are those from the "Rock-Color Chart" (Goddard and others, 1948). The grade scale of Wentworth (1922) was used in classifying sandand silt-sized detrital grains,

Rough-textured limestone is described as crystalline if crystal faces can be seen with a hand lens; it is described as granular if crystal faces are absent. Smooth-textured limestone and chert are described as cryptocrystalline or dense. Nonporous limestone is described as compact. Bedding structure is described as follows:

Laminated, less than 7 1/6 inch thick
Platy, 1/16 - 1/2 inch thick
Very thin bedded, 1/2-2 inches thick
Thin bedded, 2-4 inches thick
Medium bedded, 4-12 inches thick
Thick bedded, 1-3 feet thick
Massive, more than 3 feet thick

"Cable markings," the conspicuous indentations in the outcrop face of limestone beds, are due to partial solution activity along incipient bedding planes,

Stratigraphic sections in which the various outcropping formations are best represented, either in whole or in part, make up the last part of this chapter. Appropriate stratigraphic sections are referred to with the description of each formation.


The authors express sincere appreciation to Frank C. Foley, Director, State Geological Survey of Kansas, for the use of the facilities of that organization, and to J. M. Jewett and H. G. O'Connor, State Geological Survey of Kansas, for their advice in the field regarding stratigraphic problems and the recognition and distribution of channel deposits.

The Kansas Sample Log Service extended the courtesy of permitting reproduction of the sample logs of three wells in western Shawnee County and vicinity. D. E. Owen allowed the authors to publish several peel prints of rock units in the Bern Limestone from his unpublished M.S. thesis from the University of Kansas.

Previous Work

Geologic reconnaissance in western Shawnee County and vicinity, particularly along the Kansas River, was done by Meek and Hayden (1859), Swallow (1866), Prosser (1894), Haworth (1895), Bennett (1896), and Beede (1898). The glacial geology in this part of Kansas was studied by Smyth (1898) and by Todd (1909, 1911, 1918a). The early Pleistocene geomorphic history of Wabaunsee County and adjacent areas was described by Mudge (1955).

Revisions in the initial classification and descriptions of Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks in Kansas were made by Moore (1932, 1936a, 1949), Moore, Frye, and Jewett (1944), Moore and others (1951), and by Moore and Mudge (1956). Mudge and Yochelson (1962) studied the stratigraphy and paleontology of the uppermost Pennsylvanian and lowermost Permian rocks in Kansas and investigated the placement of the systemic boundary.

The geologic map of Kansas (Moore and Landes, 1937) shows the bedrock geology in western Shawnee County and vicinity in considerable detail. In 1952 Davis and Carlson included a small part of the area in their study of the geology and groundwater resources of the Kansas River valley from Topeka to Lawrence. The groundwater resources of the river valley from Topeka westward to Wamego were described by Beck (1959). In 1959 Mudge and Burton described the geology and evaluated the construction materials in Wabaunsee County. The geology and groundwater resources of Jackson County was studied by Walters (1953). O'Connor (1955) mapped Osage County, which joins this report area on the south, and Scott, Foster, and Crumpton (1959) mapped Pottawatomie County, which borders the area on the northwest. Johnson and Adkison (chap, A, this report) described the geology of the eastern part of Shawnee County and the contiguous parts of Jackson and Jefferson Counties.

Subsurface rock units of northeastern Kansas were studied by Ockerman (1935). Description, correlation, and distribution of Mississippian rocks in Kansas were discussed by Lee in 1940. The stratigraphy and structural development of the Forest City basin were described by Lee (1943) and by Lee and others (1946), Although Shawnee County lies east of the Salina basin, the county was included in the area studied by Lee, Leatherock, and Botinelly (1948) and by Lee (1956) in working out the stratigraphy and structural development of the Salina basin, Oil and gas exploration in Shawnee County and adjacent counties was summarized in 1954 by Jewett. Other geologists, some of whom are cited elsewhere in this chapter, have described various aspects of the geology or mineral resources of the area, especially in field-trip guidebooks and unpublished theses.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web October 2005; originally published 1967.
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