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Well Waters in Kansas

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Chapter VI—Ground-Water Within Stratified Rocks

This chapter treats of ground-water within stratified rocks more or less deeply buried and usually with impervious rocks above and below the water-bearing ones. The subject will be followed geographically, beginning with the southeastern part of the state and moving westward. The reader should study carefully the general plan of the stratified rocks of Kansas, as exhibited in the maps, and sections, and figures herewith included.

Briefly stated, the oldest rocks of the state, those belonging to the Mississippian time period, are in the extreme southeast corner. Here they dip to the west an average rate of about 25 feet to the mile. If one travels westward one soon comes upon rocks a little younger than the Mississippian. These belong to the Carboniferous period, recently called the Pennsylvanian by some, and they overly the Mississippian strata. The Carboniferous rocks are about 3500 feet thick in Kansas. Their eastern extremity has been worn down by erosion so that the western part of their outcropping area is nearly a fourth of the way across the state, as shown on the map, being approximately along the line of Chautauqua, Greenwood, Lyon and Pottawatomie counties. Above this lie the Permian rocks, which occupy a narrow zone entirely across the state, extending to the west along the southern boundary, reaching as far west as Meade County. Above these are rocks belonging to the Cretaceous period, on top of which rests the Tertiary, already described. All these rocks are in rock layers, one on top of the other. They are limestones and sandstones and shales, alternating with each other all the way from the Mississippian at the bottom to the top of the Cretaceous. In the eastern part of the state all of them dip to the west and northwest, doubtless having been elevated at the time the Ozark area received its uplift. In the western part of the state the formations dip to the east, quite evidently due to the uplifting of the Rocky Mountain area. Throughout the middle part of the state the rocks have but little dip in any direction. Erosion has modified the surface features of the state by wearing away the rocks regardless of geologic age. River valleys or trenches have been cut in the upper surface in whatever direction the surface was inclined, which has given practically all of our streams an east-west direction.

Where we have alternating beds of hard and soft rock erosion always wears away the soft rock faster than the hard ones. This results in leaving the hard rock exposed on top of the highest hills, with the main volume of the same hills composed of the softer shales and sandstones. In eastern Kansas, where the strata all dip to the west, these same limestones on the hill tops gradually grow deeper and deeper underneath the surface as one follows them to the west, so that in most cases in from 5 to 20 miles they entirely disappear beneath the surface, which condition is represented in figure 3.

Let us suppose now that in eastern Kansas any one of these rock masses absorbs water from local rainfall. A part of this rainfall will flow eastward with the surface of the ground, but a part of it will be absorbed by the rocks. As soon as the water gets within the rocks it will have to follow the fissures and bedding planes of its host, and therefore it will travel westward, even though the surface at that immediate place is inclined to the east. In this way over the entire eastern part of Kansas a portion of every heavy rainfall flows eastward on the immediate surface of the ground, while the portion which works its way down into the ground and becomes lodged within the stratified rocks works its way westward.

An important question now is: What becomes of the water migrating westward within the stratified rocks of eastern Kansas? So far as has yet been observed there is no general outlet to this water, and therefore it can not escape, at least not very rapidly. Where streams have cut their channels down into the stratified rock a portion of the water may escape as spring water. But our streams have not cut very deep, and therefore it is probable that the water within the deeper lying rocks has never yet found an outlet to the west. This is a very important point, because it accounts for the widely known fact that water obtained from deep wells within the stratified rocks all over the eastern half of Kansas universally is so highly mineralized that it is entirely unsuitable for domestic use. Other conditions obtain here, however, which in the aggregate are worth millions of dollars to Kansas.

Water within a mass of rock dipping westward in a way corresponds to water in an ordinary vessel having a considerable vertical depth. It is well known that if a solution of mineral water be put into such a vessel and be allowed to stand without any agitation, in the course of time the mineral materials to a considerable degree will settle to the bottom, so that the water at the bottom of the vessel is more strongly mineralized than that at the top. A familiar example of this is in the ordinary gravity electric battery so widely used by our telegraph companies. Here we find in a glass jar a mass of water with copper sulphate dissolved in it. The series of vessels constituting the battery are allowed to rest quietly on the shelf. Gradually the copper sulphate which has passed into solution accumulates at the bottom, forming a strong solution, while water near the top of the vessel is correspondingly impoverished and left more nearly pure water. Our stratified rocks dipping to the west from 10 to 25 feet per mile correspond in a way to these gravity batteries. They catch rain water along their outcropping borders, which water dissolves the old-time ocean salts held by them. Here everything remains in apparent quietness. The water can not escape back westward because the strata becomes deeply buried and no escape is possible. This condition has obtained for many thousands of years, giving the best possible opportunity for all the mineral materials dissolved in the water to migrate gradually down hill to the west, leaving the water to the east, and consequently nearer the surface, relatively fresh. Facts of observation correspond with this explanation, and where one can find water within the stratified rocks at a depth little, if any, over 200 feet it is reasonably free from mineral salts excepting the limestone which may be dissolved in it. If one follows the same strata farther west to where they are buried from 500 to thousands of feet in depth, invariably the water is very salty and contains much other mineral held in solution.

We may establish, therefore, a general principle, which is correct in theory and correct in practice, as abundantly proven by wells already drilled. We will assume that here and there all over the eastern part of the state rain water gets down into the stratified rocks and tends to migrate westward as above explained. We will put wells down into these stratified rocks near their eastern outcropping lines and we will be able to find water suitable for farm use. We are now ready to take the matter up one area at a time and cover the entire state with our investigations.

The Galena-Pittsburg Area

The Mississippian occupies the surface of a very small area in the southeast corner of the state. The strata dip to the west about 25 feet to the mile, and therefore soon become buried beneath overlying formations. Also, they rise to the east and cover the surface throughout the entire Joplin mining area, and even farther. Underneath them, with substantially no shale beds between, we find beds of dolomitic limestone and sandstone lying conformable (parallel) with the Mississippian formation. The whole of these rock masses, therefore, have an outcropping over thousands of square miles in an area where the average rainfall is about 40 inches per annum, which gives great opportunities for water to work its way down into the crevices, or voids, and along the bedding planes of the Mississippian and underlying formations.

If one drills down into these rock masses one is sure to find water. Sometimes it will have a decided artesian effect and will rise in the well partly or wholly to the surface. If we travel westward to where the Coal Measure shales and limestones overly the Mississippian formations we still would have the same probability of finding water on drilling down into or through the Mississippian. This has been done in many places. At Joplin and Galena where the Mississippian covers the surface, deep wells produce an abundance of water. At Columbus, and Cherokee, and Girard, and Pittsburg similar wells furnish a satisfactory municipal supply of water. Some of these deep wells obtain their water principally from the Mississippian while others go entirely through the Mississippian into dolomites and sandstones below and obtain even a greater supply.

The amount of water these formations contain is in every way unlimited, measured by the possibility of our demands. The more we pump out through a multitude of wells the more the rock masses will absorb throughout the catchment area to the east. The amount of water which anyone individual well will produce will depend upon outlet and local conditions of porosity within the water-bearing rock. These conditions vary from place to place, sometimes within very narrow limits. For example, at Pittsburg two wells less than a hundred feet apart vary greatly in the amount of water they produce. It so happens that one of them struck water-bearing formations where openings were most abundant and water could flow into the well with most rapidity. There can be no danger but that a well put down anywhere in Cherokee, Labette, Crawford, Neosho, or Bourbon counties would find a great abundance of water in these formations. One may feel perfectly safe to drill in his back dooryard or barnyard or anywhere he chooses, so far as quantity of water is concerned. It should be remembered that, as above explained, one well may produce more than another, as mentioned for Pittsburg.

Quality of Water

The quality of water obtained from Mississippian and underlying formations is reasonably good until we get far away from the catchment area. At Joplin and Galena, for example, the water will do very well for municipal supply. Farther west, at Columbus, Girard, etc., it is not quite so good. It has a considerable amount of mineral matter dissolved in it and an objectionable amount of sulphuretted hydrogen, a gas which gives it a peculiar odor. This is partly overcome by having a settling basin exposed to the atmosphere so that the water gives up the main part of the gas. As we travel farther west and northwest the quality of the water changes quite irregularly, but in general it becomes more highly mineralized. A somewhat famous well was drilled in Fort Scott years ago. This is situated on the west bank of the Marmaton River in the western part of the city. Here the artesian effect is sufficiently strong to throw water a few feet above the mouth of the well and a perpetual stream has been flowing ever since the well was drilled, over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, the water is so highly mineralized it is not at all suitable for general domestic use. A few wells farther west in the oil and gas region have gone down into and through the Mississippian limestones, all of which obtain a copious supply of water, but in every instance it is so highly mineralized it is entirely nonusable.

From the practical standpoint we have two questions in connection with water supply from Mississippian and underlying formations. One is the amount of water. As above stated, it may be assumed that the amount of water obtainable is inexhaustible, no matter where in southeastern Kansas the drill may be located. Drive a stake in the ground at the place where you want your well and have the driller go ahead and he will find all the water you want. But the question of quality of the water in this case is the important one and is the one about which we should be most concerned. A somewhat careful examination of the wells already drilled shows that there is a greater difference in quality than one might expect from geographic location. The Fort Scott well is much more highly mineralized than the Girard, while mere geographic location would hardly explain it. It must be remembered that the farther west one goes the greater the probability of the water being unfit for use. This means that the area of suitable water supply is quite limited and can not be defined with exactness until a much larger number of wells have been drilled. In general, one may expect the water to be reasonably good throughout Cherokee and Crawford counties, although in the northwestern portion of each county it is a little doubtful.

The Cherokee Shales

The name Cherokee shales is given to the mass of shales and sandstones immediately overlying the Mississippian limestone. They are about 400 to 450 feet in thickness. While called shales, in reality much of this rock mass is sandstone. This is particularly true over a wide area to the east and southeast of Columbus. The hilltops just west of Crestline on the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad is composed largely of coarse, porous sandstone. The so-called Timbered Hills are likewise entirely covered with sandstone. The rock formations along the upper part of Brush Creek, between the Timbered Hills area and Columbus, is practically all sandstone. Doubtless much of other areas is composed of sandstone. All of these sand rocks outcrop to the east and become buried westward. Many good wells here and there in Cherokee County obtain a supply of soft water from these sandstone beds. Here it is quite evident the supply is entirely dependent upon near-by rainfall. We are so close to the catchment area that the water is free from salt and other minerals and the purity is about all that could be desired.

These sand rocks occupy the same position stratigraphically that the best paying oil and gas sands do farther west in our oil fields. Throughout the oil and gas fields of Kansas and Oklahoma when such sand rocks are reached they usually contain water, or oil, or gas. If the latter, water comes in as the gas is allowed to flow out. But here the water is very salty, while farther east it is fresh. This is the question already explained in detail in two different places in this report, where it has been shown that to the west the water is more salty than farther to the east. Just how far to the west from the outcropping lines of the sandstones the water is sufficiently free from salt to be serviceable has not been determined. To the eastward it is good, potable water and is obtained in many wells; to the west it is salt water. Citizens throughout this area are advised when in need of water to drill down into these sand rocks and test the water to see whether or not they are so far west it is salty.

In writing the above section I do not mean to convey the idea that the same individual beds of sand rock outcropping in the vicinity of Crestline and Brush Creek are continuous westward to the gas fields. Such a condition does not obtain. Generally an individual sand rock does not have an east-and-west extension more than from 10 to 20 miles. Other sand rocks appear, however, at substantially the same horizon, so that throughout a wide area we are likely to find sand rock at practically the same stratigraphic position occupied by those at Crestline and along Brush Creek. In this way wells drilled promiscuously are likely to find sand rocks in the places named.

Rocks of the Marmaton Stage

The Marmaton formation is a combination of limestones, sandstones and shales alternating with each other and immediately overlying the Cherokee shales, and extending in a northeast-southwest direction across the state, occupying the east state line from the south side of Miami southward to a little beyond opposite Fort Scott. On the south line of the state they occupy the space from the hilltops west of Chetopa to a little beyond Coffeyville.

Within the shales many sandstone beds occur in a manner similar to the sandstone beds already described within the Cherokee shales. Each individual formation in turn outcrops to the east and gradually dips to the west and becomes covered with the overlying formation. In this way a series of conditions are set up similar to that already described farther to the east.

These sandstones absorb water readily and permit it to work its way westward within them. The limestone layers are more or less filled with vertical fissures and spaces between the individual layers, all of which facilitates the westward movement of water. Here we have exactly the conditions described elsewhere. Water obtained toward the east, near where the particular horizon outcrops, is good, fresh water, while water obtained from the same horizon farther west is more or less salty. Prospecting, therefore, should be confined to shallow depths, from 100 to 200 feet as a maximum, within the stratified rocks. Otherwise it is certain salt water will be obtained.

Here is a suitable place to describe conditions when ordinary open wells are dug through a mass of shale. It is quite common for farmers to dig wells from 3 to 5 feet in diameter down through, or partly through, a mass of shale and to obtain water, sometimes from the shale itself, but frequently from sand rocks lying just below the shale. In such cases the water at first may be reasonably good. In the course of time it becomes so contaminated with iron and sulphuric acid that it is scarcely usable. I am well acquainted with a good many such wells. The difficulty arises by having an open well which permits air to come in contact with the shale. All of these shale beds are more or less filled with the double sulphide of iron, the mineral pyrite, which in coal mining countries is usually spoken of as sulphur rock, but which throughout the Joplin area is usually called mundic. This compound of sulphur and iron is very easily affected by the atmosphere when moist. The sulphur is oxidized and a soluble iron sulphate is produced which dissolves and enters the water. From such wells water may be drawn perfectly clear when fresh, but upon standing sooner or later an iron-rusty tinge appears within it, and if allowed to stand a thin layer of iron rust is apt to form on the walls of the vessel. If the old-fashioned well bucket is used it soon assumes a rusty appearance and the iron hoops rust away in a short time, and no moss grows on the bucket and rarely ill the watering troughs connected therewith. Instead of growing moss we generally find a coating of iron rust wherever such water is used.

The oxidation of pyrite found in the shales is carried on slowly, as the air is able to work its way back into the shale mass. This will occupy years, and perhaps may never cease entirely. The result is that the water, which may have been reasonably good when the well was first dug, within a year or so becomes affected, and within a period of from 5 to 15 years reaches its maximum state of contamination. Some wells with which I am acquainted later began to improve, and one particularly that I have in mind in Cherokee County, which was dug during the summer of 1866, for quite a number of years past has yielded water that is fairly satisfactory, after having passed through a bad-water period as above explained. These iron laden wells abound throughout Cherokee, Labette and Crawford comities, and in fact many other counties in the state. Many of them have become so bad that they are abandoned and people have quit searching for water in such shale beds.

It is evident from the above explanation that could a well be made by drilling down through the shale beds and then treated in such a way that the atmosphere would be entirely shut out the bad results from oxidation would not prevail. This may be done by a number of different methods. First, a drilled well may be made and iron casing put in so that the atmosphere will not come in contact with the shale walls. In such a case the water would not become contaminated from the oxidized walls and would retain the properties it had when the well was first made. Should the landowner prefer to dig his well with pick and shovel, then it is desirable to put some kind of covering over the well so that the shale walls will be protected from the atmosphere. A very good way to accomplish this would be to lay the well wall in concrete mortar, leaving out the mortar for only a few feet at the bottom to permit the water to flow into the well. A wall of either brick or stone may then be made substantially air tight. When the wall has reached within 3 or 4 feet of the top a slab of stone or concrete should be laid on top of the wall with a hole cut through it large enough to permit a pump barrel to pass. After the pump has been installed the remaining top part of the wall should be entirely filled with earth so that no air whatever could get down into the well.

At first thought some will object to covering a well so as to shut out all the air, because there is a widespread notion that the air in a well tends to rectify and keep pure well water which otherwise might be unhealthy. This idea may be correct in part, but certainly it is very incorrect in part. The method mentioned guarantees that the well will be free from crickets and toads and snakes and dead animals which otherwise may fall into it. It also guarantees that no surface contamination containing disease germs may get into the well, so that if the water itself is pure originally, or free from disease germs, it will remain so. Much more than half of the unhealthy water becomes unhealthy from surface contamination. This method of fixing and preserving a well, therefore, not only will prevent the air from oxidizing pyrite within the shale and thereby rendering the water heavily iron laden, but also is a splendid method for the prevention of surface contamination of every kind.

The area occupied by rocks belonging to the Marmaton stage has its most common base of supply of well water from rain water absorbed by the surface deposits, debris which lies on top of the regularly stratified rock.

Rocks of the Pottawatomie Stage

Rocks belonging to the Pottawatomie stage outcrop and occupy the surface of the ground in and along a slender zone just west of the Marmaton area and east of an irregular line from Kansas City to the southwest corner of Montgomery County. The rocks have substantially the same general outcropping conditions as those of the Marmaton stage and the same general conditions govern their water supply. Many places may be found where good supplies of good water are available from the stratified rock near their outcropping areas. Sometimes water is found within a mile or two miles of the intake area. A row of hills marks the eastern limit of this Pottawatomie area. They are the hills just to the west of Mound Valley, northwest of Erie and west of Uniontown and Pleasanton and around Mound City and La Cygne and Osawatomie.

Some years ago, during an unusually dry autumn, the farmers of Allen County who lived up on top of the escarpment just described began drilling wells for stock water within a mile or two or three to the west of the escarpment. They found a reasonably good supply of relatively pure water. Neighbors farther west were likewise hard pressed for water, and began drilling also. The wells would pass down through the first limestone and usually would find water in the underlying sandstones, although sometimes it came from the limestones themselves in part and in part from the shales. I watched this with great interest and followed the well drillers as far west as Iola, at which place this particular water-bearing horizon was 300 to 400 feet beneath the surface. Here, however, the water was so salty and highly mineralized it was entirely unsuitable for domestic use, or for use in steam boilers. One well driller with whom I talked had drilled a line of wells all the way from the top of the hills west of Uniontown into Iola. He said on the east the water was bountiful and satisfactory in quality. As he migrated westward with his well-drilling operations the water became more and more salty, gradually changing from a desirable water into an undesirable one. At Iola it was so bad it was not fit for use. Farmers living from one to two miles back from the escarpment line are encouraged to drill wells for water supply, while those living a little farther west are advised to hope for nothing usable from identically the same rock horizon.

The reader should become thoroughly familiar with the term dip plane and its significance. The term is so convenient it should be used by everyone, and, further, we have no other good term by which to express the same thought. By referring to figure 3 the reader can understand what is meant. It is the surface of the ground on top of a mass of limestone or other hard rock which dips in any particular direction. Figure 3 shows how throughout all eastern Kansas the rocks dip to the west, and how the traveler migrating from the east to the west or northwest travels over a dip plane some distance and then mounts an escarpment and travels down its dip plane to the foot of the next escarpment. Thus, all dip planes in Kansas are generally narrow, sometimes only a few miles wide, and rarely are as much as twenty. They trend across the state in the same direction as the outcropping of the rock masses. The geological map, plate I of this report, shows the surface areas occupied by these several stages, the Cherokee, Marmaton, Pottawatomie, etc. The eastern line of each invariably is a line of escarpment, or outcropping of the hard rock. It is always rapidly down hill to the east from such a scarp summit, and very generally down hill to the west along the dip plane.

Throughout the area above discussed we have the dip plane on top of the Iola limestone reaching from near Uniontown on the east to beyond Iola on the west. In a few places the overlying rocks have not been entirely worn away, so that the Iola limestone is covered and the dip plane as such is concealed. But throughout the greater part of the area the dip plane characteristics are easily recognized, with the eastern portion always higher than the western portion. A remarkably good illustration of a dip plane lies a little farther to the west with Fredonia substantially in the center of it. The high escarpment just west of Neodesha and Chanute, and across the river west from Iola, marks the eastern outcropping of the Allen and Stanton limestones which have a westwardly dip. First above the Stanton limestone is a heavy bed of shales about 300 feet thick, including the thin Kickapoo limestone, which produces but little effect on the landscape. These shales are worn away back to the west for a number of miles, leaving the Stanton limestone exposed near the surface along a zone reaching from Leavenworth to the southwest, crossing the state line into Oklahoma near Sedan. The mass of shale on top is worn away quite irregularly, so that the dip plane is more easily recognized at some places than at others, but even a casual observation as one passes over this part of the state will discover it.

With the above definitions and explanations water conditions may be described in a few words. By drilling down into the stratified rocks along these dip planes one is almost certain to find water. Throughout the eastern portion of the dip plane areas the water is likely to be usable, while only a few miles to the west it is almost certain to become so contaminated it is substantially worthless.

Rocks of the Douglas Stage

The area covered by rocks of the Douglas stage may readily be determined from the accompanying geological map. It is one of those northeast-southwest zones similar to those already described. The bottom of it rests upon the Stanton limestone and the top is capped by the Oread limestone.

Water conditions here are the same as those already described. At Fredonia, in the middle of the Douglas stage area, or putting it another way, in the middle of the dip plane of the Stanton limestone, we find that fresh water may be had by drilling down through the Stanton limestone into whatever sandstones happen to be embedded within the underlying shales. I am told by well drillers that every oil and gas well lying to the north of Fredonia passed through this zone of fresh water, which would have supplied a large amount of good water had anyone desired to use it. Within the city of Lawrence we have a number of good examples. In the eastern part of town water is not as abundant as might be desired. Quite a number of wells have been drilled down into the stratified rock which rises to the east to their outcropping areas, where an abundant catchment area exists. The wells are close enough to this catchment area so that the water is good and fresh and wholesome, and the annual rainfall is sufficient to supply the water in great abundance. Now, when a dry spell comes, the great volume of water held within the rock reservoirs is so large that there is no danger whatever of exhausting it. When the succeeding rains again come the reservoir is again filled and awaits the call of man.

This dip plane area reaches entirely across the state, as just named, and during the present dry spell thousands of head of live stock have been rushed into market from it on account of lack of stock water. And yet it is highly probable that in every township throughout this entire area a good supply of good water could have been had for the asking.

Succeeding Carboniferous Stages

There is danger of wearying the reader with these detailed descriptions. The Douglas stage is succeeded westward by the Shawnee stage, and that in turn by the Wabaunsee stage; which carries us to the top of the Carboniferous, and to the foot of the Permian, all of which is well represented on the geological map, plate 1. Nature's conditions here are substantially the same as elsewhere. The northern part of the area is largely covered with glacial debris already described at length. South of the Kansas River the glacial material does not exist in any considerable quantity, and therefore the stratified rocks are exposed immediately to the surface, excepting where they are slightly covered with soil and silt; It is certain here, as elsewhere, that large quantities of good and usable water may be obtained by drilling down into the stratified rock. It is strongly recommended that those who prospect for water in this way confine their investigations to the eastern portions of the dip-plane areas, or to a narrow zone lying just to the west of the outcropping lines. How wide this zone may be before it carries one far enough west to get salt water nothing but experience will show. In some instances salt water is found within five or six miles of the outcropping escarpment, while elsewhere it seems safe to go twelve to fifteen miles to the west.

Jackson County is better supplied with water than Pottawatomie County, largely due to its having a heavier mantle of glacial debris. Pottawatomie has suffered as much this summer from lack of water as any county in the state. The citizens in general here have not prospected for ground water nearly as much as they should. It is quite probable that should extensive prospecting be done a good many failures would result. It is confidently believed, however, that in many places, particularly in the eastern part of the county, serviceable water may be found within the stratified rocks the same as it is throughout the area covered by rocks of the Pottawatomie and Marmaton stages. It might be added, further, that prospecting has by no means exhausted the possibility of ground water resting upon the top of the stratified rocks and underneath debris on the hillsides formed by decomposition of the hillside rocks.

The Flint Hills Area and the Flint Hills Dip Plane

The term Flint Hills has been given to a prominent escarpment stretching entirely across the state from south to north, more particularly prominent in the south part of the state along the eastern side of Butler and Cowley counties. This great escarpment exists on account of the presence of massive beds of limestones carrying large quantities of flint resting on top of thick beds of shale. The shale wears away rapidly and the limestone slowly. In this way the hill or scarp faces the east and is most pronounced where the underlying shale beds are the thickest. This line reaches from the middle of Sumner County on the south to the middle of Marshall County on the north. It is quite sinuous, as all those boundary lines are, but in the main is almost north and south; When once on top of these heavy flint-bearing limestones, which have been named, from bottom upward, the Wreford, the Florence flint, Ft. Riley limestone and flint, and the Winfield limestone, one can look westward down the gently sloping dip plane for quite a number of miles. The present drainage likewise follows this dip plane. Hence, we have the little streams flowing west from the flint hills escarpment forming Grouse Creek and Walnut Creek which drain a very considerable area.

It so happens that along this escarpment we have a splendid catchment area reaching across the state. The water sinking into the ground soon becomes caught by the stratified rock masses and is carried westward down their dip planes. In a few places farmers have found that by drilling through the upper stratified formations a good supply of water can be had. One such area is in Cowley County where many farmers have wells which from their standpoint are inexhaustible. With windmills and water tanks attached they can laugh at the drouths so far as stock water is concerned, even though the drouth should be severe enough to destroy all their forage crops.

Another area investigated lies to the west of Council Grove, in the vicinity of Wilsey. Here for quite a number of miles every farmhouse has its well and windmill and water tank. so that the citizens live in comfort and live stock have all the water they can drink, even in driest seasons.

A third area especially examined lies on the high divide between the Blue River and the Republican River from Garrison to Clay Center. The hilltops west of the Blue River form a great catchment area and windmills dot the prairies both east and west of Leonardville, implying that water is abundant everywhere. Investigations showed that these wells pass down through the first stratified rock, and at depths varying from 100 to 200 feet, depending principally on surface levels, they come into the water-bearing horizon, which is a limestone sufficiently filled with vertical seams and open spaces along the bedding planes to permit water to work its way westward an indefinite distance. Early in September, 1913, I traveled from the Blue River to eight miles west of Leonardville. Everywhere beyond the immediate river bluffs windmills abounded and water was abundant. I made inquiry of many citizens and always obtained the same answer in substance, which was to the effect that throughout their part of the country although the drouth had seriously affected crops it had produced no effect on the water supply. Here was no hauling of water or driving of stock to water; here was no change of location to where water could be found. It was everywhere found. It seems that a well could be put down anywhere with substantially the same results. The quality of the water throughout this area is very satisfactory to those using it. It has no salt so far as one could tell by the taste. It is perfectly clear and therefore free from iron. Water tanks frequently were full of moss, showing that the water contained no mineral contents poisonous to the lower forms of vegetation. It was pleasant to the taste and satisfying to thirst. It had sufficient amount of limestone dissolved in it to make it desirable to "break" it for laundry purposes. This would make it objectionable for boiler use, but by no means prohibitive.

A most important question is somewhat as follows: If wells with an abundance of good water can be had around Leonardville and Wilsey, and to the east and northeast of Winfield, why can not similar wells be obtained throughout the entire zone stretching across the state from north to south where general geologic conditions are the same? I believe they can, and that here is a zone from 10 to 20 miles wide and 200 miles long throughout which good, usable water may be had in great abundance on substantially every quarter section of land. If this idea is correct, what a great misfortune it is that one should make a financial sacrifice on account of not having water enough, at least before he has fully prospected his property.

It is very well understood by the writer that there may be places here and there where the conditions are not favorable for the existence of water, and which, therefore, would prove barren when prospected. It is confidently believed, however, that such areas are small and far between, and that the entire zone mentioned, with but few exceptions, is water-bearing.

How far west this ground water extends before its quality becomes undesirable has not yet been determined. Some observations indicate that the east-west extent of good water is much greater here than any of the fresh-water zones farther east already described. For example, springs are abundant in some places the water of which apparently comes from the stratified rock. In the vicinity of Herington and to the north a number of noted springs which produce large quantities of water apparently find their water supply from this same water-bearing horizon within the stratified rock. Opportunity has not yet offered for a sufficiently detailed examination of these to warrant a positive statement. If this assumption is correct, it seems probable that the spring water to the north of Herington comes from the catchment area in the vicinity to the west of Council Grove. Long ago the saline material was leached out and carried away, so that the water at the present time is substantially void of salt.

The McPherson-Newton Water Area

A most interesting and valuable area well supplied with water lies in the vicinity of McPherson and Newton. A stretch of country reaching from the Smoky Hill River on the north near Lindsborg southward by way of McPherson connects with the water-bearing areas of the Arkansas River in the vicinity of Halstead. The underlying rocks here are the Permian shales, which have almost no water in them, and what is found is so highly mineralized it is unfit for domestic use. It seems that a groove, or channel, has been made by nature on the upper side of these shales and then filled with debris, similar to river alluvial material, or Tertiary material of the West. One is led to believe that the Smoky Hill River at one time passed this way from a little below Marquette and entered the Arkansas near Halstead, and that it had a valley to the north of Halstead from 20 to 25 miles wide. It seems this valley has become entirely filled with debris, as above mentioned, and therefore becomes a most important catchment area for water, which works its way down through the porous material to the Permian floor. As this floor is almost level, and as the water in the Smoky Hill River near Marquette is substantially on a level with the Arkansas River near Halstead, there is little tendency for the water to move in either direction.

This area was examined hastily by Dr. J. W. Beede and the writer in 1896 and 1897. Wells at McPherson had been made six or eight years before, which showed the wonderful possibilities of the area. In the autumn of 1897 the city of Newton became greatly interested in the water question, and by the advice of the writer went westward until this area was reached. where an abundance of water was available. The wells were put down and water pipes laid to Newton, since which time the town has been well supplied with good water. Doctor Beede prepared a map and sections of the area, which were published in the Report of the Board of Irrigation Survey and Experiment early in 1897, constituting plates 19 and 20, and also in volume II, Kansas Geological Survey, pages 287-296, with the same plates reappearing as plates 45, 46. The following extract was taken, in substance, from volume II and printed in the Report of the Board of Irrigation Survey and Experiment, pages 103, 104, and the two plates are also herewith reproduced as plates III and IV.

"THE MCPHERSON AREA. In the vicinity of McPherson exists an area remarkable in its geologic properties and very important in connection with the underground water which it- conveys. In past time it seems an old channel similar to a river channel was worn, connecting the Arkansas with the Smoky Hill river, and covering a width in some places of about twenty-five miles. This area is represented on the map (plate XIX) by obliquely ruled lines and light stipples.
"By an examination of this map it will be seen that it covers all of the surface from the Smoky Hill south to the general lowlands of the Arkansas river, including the area around McPherson, Groveland, Elyria, Mound Ridge, Halstead, Burrton, and other places. On the east it passes within about two or three miles of Newton, and a like distance of Lehigh. From this point it bears rapidly to the northwest until the Smoky Hill river is reached. Aiken is near the western boundary, from which point it bears south until the general lowlands of the Arkansas river are reached, to the northeast of Hutchinson. Plate XX shows four sections across the area, the location of which is marked on the map. By an examination of these sections it will be seen that the covering of sandy material is relatively thin throughout the main part of the eastern area, but that near the western side the sand increases in depth to nearly 200 feet. How much deeper the old river channel was is not known, as the original floor of the channel has not yet been reached by any of the wells in the locality.
"The important feature of this area in connection with the present discovery is the unusually large supply of good, fresh water which it provides. The whole area is supplied with an abundance of water, which is in almost every respect similar to the Tertiary ground water of the west. The city well at McPherson is a good illustration of the amount of water which can be had. This well reached a depth of about 140 feet, and obtained a supply of water so great that the constant running of the large pump in the ten-inch well could have no apparent effect upon it. It is described by Dr. S. Z. Sharp as follows (S. Z. Sharp, unpublished paper read at 1895 meeting of Kansas Academy of Science): 'Here the water is obtained in abundance at 100 feet. The well of the city waterworks is 140 feet deep, and the water is pumped through a ten-inch pipe by steam into a standpipe. When the waterworks were constructed eight years ago and put to a test, previous to their acceptance by a stock company, the pump was kept running continuously for ten days, lifting 10,080 gallons per hour.'
"The economic importance of this water supply can not be overestimated. It is easily seen by an examination of the surface of the country during the summer season that the general farm crops throughout this whole area are more flourishing than on either side. The artificial groves of different kinds of trees, and orchards, show a marked difference in health and rapidity of growth. This is so strongly marked that one standing on a prominent ridge on either side of the area in midsummer can trace with the eye the boundary lines of the area by the different appearance of vegetation here and elsewhere. It is not overestimating the conditions to say that year after year the average yield of crops in this locality is decidedly superior to the yield on either side. In addition to this, the farmers and citizens throughout the whole of the area have within easy reach an abundant supply of water, which is suitable for all kinds of domestic purposes, and which is sufficient in quantity to meet any demand that may be put upon it. The city of Newton at present is arranging to obtain its water supply from wells bored six or eight miles to the west of the city, located in this same Pleistocene sandy area, or old river valley.
"At present it seems that there is here an underground water connection between the Arkansas and Smoky Hill rivers."

Little more need be added here. Regardless of the source of the water, we have here a broad area of agricultural land unusually well supplied with water. A study of the cross sections made by Doctor Beede, which, of course, were from data furnished by wells, leads one to think that the immediate river channel was much deeper than other portions of the area, producing a sort of "first bottom" and "second bottom" conditions. A well at McPherson carried to a depth of 140 feet withstood a severe test, as given on the authority of Doctor Sharpe, at that time president of McPherson College. A ten-inch well in sand, which will endure a ten-day pumping test, and will average 10,080 gallons per hour, or 241,920 gallons per day, with no indication of exhaustion, is of untold value. It is firmly believed that similar wells may be obtained here and there ail along the principal channel, and that good wells for farm use may be had practically at random all over the area outlined.

Water from the Dakota Sandstone

Probably the rocks of no other geological age in America furnish as much ground water as the Dakota sandstones. The St. Peter's sandstone of the Great Lakes region, which supplies artesian water to Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, Illinois, etc., is its closest rival. Rocks of the Dakota age are spoken of generally as sandstone. As a matter of fact they are sandstone interbedded more or less irregularly with shale. It may be doubted whether or not anyone sandstone mass extends entirely from the west side to the east of the Dakota area. The proportion of sandstone in the Dakota is much greater than in the Carboniferous, or the Permian, to the east, and therefore it is not very much of an error to speak of the Dakota sandstone.

The Dakota sandstone outcrops along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains from our southern national boundary entirely across to the northern, and probably beyond in each direction. This is represented in part on the map, plate V. On it is shown the outcropping of the Dakota formations in a long, narrow band throughout Colorado and parts of Wyoming, with an odd-shaped area where it comes to the surface in the central part of Wyoming, and also western Montana from Great Falls southeastward. Other irregularly shaped areas are shown on the map, also, where the Dakota comes to the surface in or close to the mountains.

In the vicinity of Trinidad and throughout a part of Colorado its outcropping has an elevation of 8000 feet above sea level. West of Cheyenne it is about 6500, from which elevation it drops to about 5000 feet farther north, and rises again to above 8000 in central Wyoming. Farther north its elevation is not quite so great. Beyond the national boundary in Canada it follows the mountain border very much as in the United States, but of course its elevation grows less because the mountains to the north are not so high.

Throughout the greater portion of the areas where it exists it is overlaid by younger formations, the Benton, Niobrara, Pierre, Fox Hill, and Laramie in regular order. Above this is a mantle of Tertiary through the greater part of the Great Plains area, material which has been carried eastward from the Rocky Mountains and strewn over the surface, already described in these pages as Tertiary.

Far to the east from this western outcropping the same Dakota formations outcrop again, due to the eastern slope of the surface being greater than the dip of the rocks. This line of outcropping on the east is quite irregular. It is found in southeastern Colorado and almost entirely across the states of Kansas and Nebraska and a portion of Iowa. To the north, where it otherwise should be expected, we find a heavy mantle of glacial debris covering it, so that what otherwise would be a northern extension of the outcropping area is concealed from view. This eastern outcropping area also is shown on the map, plate V. It will be seen from this map how water may be taken in throughout its great catchment area to the west, migrate slowly through the entire Dakota, and escape as spring water on the eastern outcropping. The map also will give one an idea of how water may be held within the Dakota under a varying hydrostatic pressure, depending upon the ease of outlet along the eastern border.

It is unreasonable to suppose that water can migrate eastward with equal freedom throughout all the Dakota area. On the contrary, we should suppose that here and there are places through which it can flow with comparative freedom, and other places where the sandstone is so fine grained it can scarcely flow at all. Again, if water is migrating eastward through a sand rock which does not extend all the way to the eastern outcropping, but which may possibly deliver its water through narrow shale beds to succeeding sandstone beds farther east, we have an additional reason for irregularity of flow. To the north, where the eastern outcropping is covered by the glacial mantle, the water can not escape so rapidly as to the south where no such mantle exists, and hence we might expect a greater head or artesian pressure. In fact, one should carry in mind the probability of irregularities here and there, if one desires to understand the situation as it actually is. Of course, if there is an outlet to the east through which water can escape as rapidly as it approaches it is impossible to find much, if any, artesian pressure in the sand rock immediately to the west of such outlets. The pressure, or head, is created by water trying to travel eastward faster than it can, so that the sand rocks on those high elevations of the given area become full of water which is trying to escape down hill to the east, but which can not escape as rapidly as other water is ready to take its place.

Now let us see what we have and what conclusions should be drawn therefrom. We may compare this sand rock to a great flat bowl the walls of which are as thick as the thickness of the entire Dakota formation. The bowl must be very flat. Its western margin must be very irregular, full of notches, so to speak, to match the western margin of the outcropping Dakota, as shown on the map, plate V. The eastern margin of the bowl likewise can be very irregular to match the eastern outcropping of the same Dakota, as shown on the same map. Now, if this bowl is made from porous clay, such as our filter jars are, and if we fill the bowl with something which will not let the water into it from above, then set the bowl into a bed of mortar which likewise will not let water into it from below, our illustration is fairly good. Rain water falling upon the western edge of the upturned bowl will slowly percolate through the wall of the bowl. The material in the bowl being impervious will not let this water rise up into the bowl where water is usually kept in bowls, but will keep it down within the walls of the bowl itself. In the course of time, should the western edge of the bowl be kept wet, water will work its way through to the eastern edge.

What are the facts in the case? We have the western outcropping of the Dakota, as explained, which we know because many different men have examined the same and have made maps showing their exact location. Our map herewith included is a compilation from these various maps. We know that we have the eastern outcropping because such outcroppings have been studied by many different people and are likewise shown. Citizens of Kansas living along the eastern outcropping area, as shown on our map, will agree with me that such sandstone masses do exist, usually capping the tops of hills. These sandstone-capped hills, and ridges, and scarps exist all the way from the north side of the state to Larned, south of which other material has filled in the valleys, so to speak, so that the Dakota sandstone lies more nearly on a level with the surface.

We have springs in varying abundance more less all along this eastern outcropping area. Many fine springs are known coming out of the rocks away up near the tops of the hills. where springs seldom are found. Sandstone-capped hills are abundant in the eastern part of Ellsworth County, reaching into Saline County as far as Brookfield, with outlying Dakota hills away east of Salina, as shown upon the lithographic geological map, plate 1.

It is interesting to note that throughout this hilly area to the west and northwest of Brookville spring water is abundant, and almost invariably is found away up near the top of the hill where the sandstone rests upon impervious shale beds. Of course, as the water comes out of the sand rock it trickles down the hillside and usually sinks into the soil covering, making more or less swampy, marshy areas, which sometimes become dangerous to live stock. It is not infrequently necessary to fence off such marshes to keep stock from wading into them for the first green in early spring and becoming mired to death. One landowner pointed out such a place, in which he said were the bones of more than a dozen animals he knew of-animals which had waded too far into the soft material, sunk down and drowned. Such places as these can be traced up the hillside to the outcropping sandstone unless, as is sometimes found, the entire surface of the sandstone is covered with loose sand produced by the weathering of the sandstone. Some good springs of this character exist in the state. The famous Abilene spring, just west of the town of Abilene, flows from Dakota sands. Immediately north of the spring the rocks have been disintegrated, forming loose sand on the surface. For a number of miles on the north and northwest this sand rests upon the top surface of the Permian shales, which are impervious to water. We have here, therefore, a commingling of the water of the Dakota sandstone proper and water which has but recently fallen as rain on the loose sand produced by the weathering of the Dakota sandstone.

Now let us see what we have farther to the west. As one travels west one finds the Dakota sandstone covered by younger formations, the Benton, Niobrara, etc., as already explained, all of which are much less pervious to water than the Dakota. In some places these overlying formations reach a great thickness. In northwest Kansas we know they are over 2000 feet thick because wells have gone that deep without finding them, and we are left to guess how much thicker. At Rocky Ford, Colo., wells reached the Dakota at about 750 feet, so that the depth to the walls of our bowl used in the last illustration is quite variable. If we consider the entire area of the Dakota in the United States, as we may by referring to the map, plate V, we find that everywhere throughout the central area the Dakota lies moderately deep, while everywhere as we approach the borders, or outcropping areas, it becomes more shallow, a proposition so easily understood that there is no need of illustrating it further in these pages.

Explorations Already Made Within the Dakota

Already many hundred wells have been drilled down through the overlying formations and into the Dakota sandstone. Such explorations have been carried on to the greatest extent, perhaps, in South Dakota.

The map, plate V, shows the area throughout which wells are very abundant. To the east of this particular area the Dakota can not come to the surface on account of the glacial mantle, and therefore we should expect to find a good artesian pressure. This is actually the case, as many of the Dakota wells have water pressure sufficient to throw a column of water much above the housetops. A good many artesian wells have been found around the borders of the Black Hills area, where the drill has passed through overlying formations and down into the Dakota.

In Kansas we have a number of such wells along the Arkansas River in the vicinity of Syracuse and Coolidge. Drilling also has been done to the west up the Arkansas River as far as Pueblo, and invariably has rewarded the drillers with water reaching to the surface or nearly to the surface. At Rocky Ford the first well which was drilled, according to a statement of the well driller to the writer, had artesian pressure sufficient to raise water to a height of eighty-five feet in a water pipe erected. An open flow would not force water quite that high, on account of the resistance of the atmosphere. Near the eastern outcropping of the Dakota a great many wells have been drilled throughout Nebraska and Kansas, with quite varying results, which, as already explained, should be expected. Some of these have a decided artesian flow, but in others the water is lifted only a part of the way to the surface. This report is to be confined within narrow limits, and therefore it is not thought desirable to give a detailed report on all of the wells, but rather to mention a few of them, in order to establish a principle, so that we may predict what may be expected elsewhere.

Years ago a line of nice artesian wells were obtained in the vicinity of Coolidge. Here the Dakota sandstone lies approximately 200 feet beneath the surface. Local drillers with small drills sunk a number of wells into it and cased them with galvanized-iron casings, and obtained flows of from 25 to 75 gallons per minute. I believe that all such wells were located in the Arkansas River valley, and therefore passed through the water-bearing sands in the river valley. Naturally, within a few years the galvanized-iron casings would rust out, and the artesian water then would spread itself in the water-bearing river valley sands and commingle with the general underflow. I understand that at the present time all such wells in the vicinity of Coolidge have gone to the bad, and I am sure it is because the casing has rusted, permitting the water to spread out in the river valley.

Should one put down a well so that the bore within the sandstone would be from 12 to 24 inches in diameter, no one knows how productive it might be. I think it reasonable to suppose that, right here in the valley around Coolidge, flowing wells of this description might be obtained with a capacity of from 200 to 500 gallons per minute. Artesian wells also should be obtainable both north and south of the river valley, especially to the south. The entire portion of southwestern Kansas lying to the west of the Dakota outcropping lines should be supplied with artesian water from the Dakota. It must be borne in mind, however, that here and there we may find places where the sandstone is fine grained and mixed with silt, so that the flow would be greatly decreased, or possibly in extreme cases entirely prevented. No one can foretell these conditions, because no one can determine in advance the degree of coarseness of the sandstone.

Plate VI is a diagrammatical vertical section across the west end of Kansas, first published in 1897 as plate 26 in volume II of our State Geological Survey reports. It shows how all the stratified rocks here dip gently to the north, carrying the Dakota farther beneath the surface towards the north. We can only tell the exact depth at which they lie by drilling down and finding them. Near Oberlin, in Decatur County, I understand a well has been drilled to a depth of about 2000 feet in search for oil, although I have been unable to get an exact record of the same. Some years ago a company was formed to prospect for oil in this part of the state. They issued a prospectus, in which they stated one well was already drilled to a depth of almost 2000 feet, and another at that time to a depth of 1200 or 1300 feet. I tried by correspondence to get exact details, but failed. Darton gives an account of a well at Jennings which reached a sand rock at 960 feet, that produced soft water, which rock he interprets as being Dakota (N. R. Darton, U, S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper No. 32, pp. 293-294, Washington, 1905). On the next page he gives the top of the Dakota at 1450 feet at a well at Kanona, only about eight miles away, from which data he calculates that the Dakota would be reached in Oberlin at 1200 to 1300 feet.

From what I know of the general conditions in that part of the country, I am sure the top of the Dakota can not be reached at 960 feet at Jennings, provided it is 1450 feet at Kanona. Some years ago a well was put down by the Union Pacific Railroad Company at Winona, in Logan County, about twenty-five miles west of Oakley. This well went to a depth of about 1300 feet and failed to reach the Dakota sandstone.

Recently a well was drilled at Goodland to a depth of 2160 feet which failed to reach the Dakota. According to information just received in private correspondence from Hon. C. L. Calvert, of Goodland, the well put down by the county authorities two years ago reached a depth of 2160 feet. As I interpret the record of the well, it did not reach the Dakota sandstone. The record is as follows:

Feet Goodland Well
0-140 Soil
140-160 Sand, water-bearing
160-207 Clay And silt
207-267 Sand, strong water
267-285 Clay and silt
285-1,650 Dark shale; a little gas at 1,150
1,650-1,700 Limestone, with a little gas; probably Niobrara
1,700-2,100 Dark shale
2,100-2,160 Limestone; probably Benton

Numerous wells of lesser depth have reached the Dakota at different points along the Arkansas River, and north in the vicinity of Ness City. South of the river a few wells have been drilled in Morton County and elsewhere, all of which have obtained water from the Dakota, provided they were not too far east. It is quite probable that throughout the southwest corner of the state other Cretaceous sandstones older than the Dakota separate the Dakota from the underlying Permian, and therefore they may obtain water even from Triassic or other sandstones deeper down than the Dakota. Darton reports that a well at Richfield to a depth of 701 feet obtained a flow of water from the Red Beds which was too salty for use (N. R. Darton, U, S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper No. 32, pp. 308, Washington, 1905).


From all the foregoing it will be seen that a large portion of western Kansas is underlaid by the Dakota sandstone, a formation which is highly water-bearing, which obtains its water from a catchment area far to the west, high up on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, so that it has a more or less artesian effect, giving an artesian flow in many places, and in others causing the water to rise toward the surface in wells. This sandstone horizon may be reached at reasonable depth throughout nearly all southwest Kansas, and doubtless can be reached at greater depths in the northwest part of the state. The little map, plate VI, was first published in 1897 in the Report of the Irrigation Survey and Experiment. On it is a heavy black line including an area throughout which it is known that Dakota water may be obtained within easy reach of the drill. At the time this was published it was considered unsafe to make predictions of the part of the state lying farther north. At present, however, I feel more confident that water can be found much farther north than indicated on this map.

Inasmuch as this Dakota lies under the same area as the Tertiary, where ground water is so abundant, the importance of water from the Dakota is greatly reduced. Otherwise, everyone would consider it of great importance. Could we extend the Dakota sandstone eastward so that it would overlay the Permian, throughout which good ground water is so hard to obtain, it would assume a greater importance to Kansas.

The Red Beds

If the reader will look on the geological map, plate I, he will notice that the Permian area extends away to the west along the south line of the state as far out as Englewood. The western part of this Permian area is the Red Beds. Immediately above the Red Beds is a thin zone of Comanche Cretaceous, a little streak of green on the map. The name Red Beds is given to a terrain all of which is red. It is a variety of red clay and shale, and occasionally sandstone mixed with it. One of the business blocks in Harper, for example, is built of red sandstone. We don't know how far to the north the Red Beds extend in under the Cretaceous, but at least as far as the salt mines at Kanopolis, and probably farther. Of course red beds are met with in many formations elsewhere, but these are a mass of unusual thickness and unusual geographic extent, and hence have attracted a great deal of attention.

To the west, most likely, they extend to the Rocky Mountains. It will be recalled that all the rock masses in the Garden of the Gods, between Colorado Springs and the mountains, are composed of red materials. It is probable that this red mass at the Garden of the Gods extends eastward into Kansas. We know it extends southward throughout portions of New Mexico. Upon the east they have been traced positively across Kansas into Oklahoma and into Texas. In Kansas they immediately underlie the Comanche area, a mass of dark, greenish-colored shales and limestones, and are separated from the Dakota by the Comanche. Conditions here are very different from what they are in the northern part of the state from Washington County to Ellsworth County. In this northern region the Dakota rests immediately upon the dark-colored Permian shales and light-colored limestones. Down here in Comanche and Clark counties the Dakota rests on the Comanche, which in turn rests on the Red Beds. Still farther to the southwest the lower Cretaceous formations are wedged in between Red Beds and the Comanche.

All of this is important in understanding water conditions in the extreme southwest part of Kansas. Years ago a well was put down at Richfield, county seat of Morton County. It bas been stated in print that this well was over 700 feet deep. Within the last few days I have been told, upon seemingly good authority, that it was only 600 feet deep. The well produced artesian water, and a flow of water was constant throughout a long number of years. In March, 1911, Wilson and Dean brought in a new well at Richfield which flows, I am told, an average of 300 to 400 gallons per minute, through an 8-inch pipe, when allowed to run continuously day and night. If, however, it is shut in for a day or so the flow is greatly increased for a few hours after being opened up again. I have no definite information on the subject as to how great this flow is, neither do I know whether or not it has ever been measured. I have been told by different people that it may be made to reach a maximum approximating 2000 gallons per minute.

A few other wells have been drilled in this same vicinity. The J. B. Watkins Land Company has recently finished a well in section 11 in the northwest township of Morton County. The well reached a total depth of 1160 feet, but they have filled it in to within about 730 feet of the top. They report that they can pump 500 gallons per minute from this well very easily. Dr. Charles L. Rea has put down a similar well about 30 feet deep up in Stanton County, in section 32, township 27, range 42, which is reported to be one of the best wells in that part of the state. Across the line in Colorado, in the vicinity of Artesia, is a well 390 feet deep which flows 120 gallons per minute through a 6 1/4-inch pipe, and another well 590 feet deep which flows 45 gallons per minute through a 3-inch pipe. To the east, in Stevens and Seward counties, a few wells have been put down, but they were not eminently satisfactory, possibly because they did not go deep enough.

All of the deep wells above mentioned seem to have gone through the Dakota formation and have obtained water from underlying beds. The Watkins well, in section 11, township 31, range 43, may be used as an illustration. By referring to the geological map, plate I, it will be seen that section 11 in this township lies very close to an outcropping of Dakota sandstone, and also that the Benton is found along the Arkansas River to the north, extending all the way west to the state line. We are left to conjecture, therefore, whether or not the Benton extends southward through Johnson County. The following is a rcord of the Watkins well:

Feet Watkins Well
0-5 Surface soil
5-25 Yellow clay
25-35 Sandy clay
35-55 Gravel, water-bearing
55-80 Limestone; probably Benton
80-95 Yellow clay
95-100 Sandstone, water-bearing
100-110 Yellow clay
110-116 Sandstone, water-bearing
116-135 Yellow clay
135-170 Blue sandstone, water-bearing
170-250 Blue shale
250-375 White sandstone, water-bearing
375-380 Red shale
380-510 Cream-colored sandstone
510-535 Red sandstone
535-720 Red shale
720-728 Red sandstone, water-bearing
728-765 Red shale
765-805 Limestone
910-916 Red sandstone; water, strong flow
916-1,000 Red shale
1,000-1,050 Reddish brown shale, hard
1,050-1,095 Dark brown shale, soft
1,095-1,160 Sandy shale with water at 1,100, and much
water at 1,150 in red quicksand

From all the above facts regarding the occurrence of the Red Beds, the Comanche and overlying formations, I am reasonably sure the Watkins well struck the Benton limestone at 55 feet and that the Dakota here is a mixture of sandstones and shales with the bottom of same at 135 feet, making the Dakota surprisingly thin. Below this we have the Comanche down to the Red Beds at 510 feet, or possibly the white and cream-colored sandstone from 250 feet down belongs to some of the Cretaceous formations immediately under the Comanche, formations which do not come to the surface in Kansas but which may be found farther south in Oklahoma and Texas. My interpretation, therefore, is that any water found in these formations corresponding to 510 feet in the Watkins well would be from Cretaceous rocks. From here down we have the Red Beds, I should consider without doubt, to the bottom.

An interesting question now arises, which may be stated as follows: How does it happen that the Red Beds here produce usable water, while farther east and southeast they are so filled with salt and gypsum that water in them is entirely unusable? If my explanation is right it should be worth millions of dollars to southwest Kansas and southeast Colorado. I have a notion that these Red Beds here contain sufficient sandstone and conglomerates, similar to those exposed in the Garden of the Gods, to permit them to become water-bearing in exactly the same way the Dakota sandstone is water-bearing, and that therefore we have here a set of conditions so different from those in the northern part of the state that they deserve entirely different treatment. To the north, it must be remembered, we have the Dakota resting immediately upon the Permian. Here the Dakota seems to rest on the Comanche dark-green shales, and these in turn upon other Cretaceous sandstones down to a depth of 510 feet, where the Red Beds are found. The most important of all is that the Red Beds are so constructed that they are highly water-bearing and produce water of a reasonably good character.

This opens up two great questions: Can we obtain water throughout this region in sufficient quantity, not only for stock water, but for extensive irrigation, and is the water of sufficient quality to be suitable for this purpose? If an affirmative answer is given to each of these questions, then we have here one of the best water areas in the world. Again, if the Red Beds water should be too highly mineralized for irrigation purposes, we still have large quantities of water available from the Cretaceous sandstones, including the Dakota and those below the Comanche. Doctor Rea's well, in Stanton County, seems to draw its water from these Cretaceous sandstones. I have no account of this water, but am told it is reasonably satisfactory. Likewise one of the wells already mentioned, at Artesia, Colo., evidently gets its water from the same sandstones; all of which is good evidence that we have here a relatively newly discovered source of water which will play a most important role in the development of this interesting part of the state.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
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