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Underground Resources of Kansas

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Wheat, cattle and sunflowers are by no means all that Kansas prairies yield. Farming is very naturally the chief industry in Kansas, farm products are much the most valuable assets, and of course the products of the soil include many important contributions to the prosperity and happiness of Kansas citizens other than those specifically named. However, it is desired in this writing to direct attention to the great but lesser known resources that lie beneath the surface of the wide-sweeping prairies, to mineral deposits whose richness was undreamed by the early Kansas pioneers. These underground resources have already added billions of dollars of new wealth to the state and have contributed immeasurably to the development of the plains country. Kansas is a leading agricultural state, but it also holds very high rank as a mineral-producing state. The average annual value of the mineral production of Kansas for the years 1917-'25, inclusive, is $127,460,000. As shown by Figure 1, giving average annual production for 1919-'23, Kansas ranks ninth among the states, being surpassed only by Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky. Figure 2 shows graphically the annual mineral production of Kansas since records have been kept to the end of 1925. This makes evident the fact that the state has assumed a position of real importance in this line within the last decade.

Figure 1—Chart showing value of mineral production in the different states.

Chart showing value of mineral production in the different states.

Figure 2—Curve showing value of mineral production in Kansas since 1900.

Curve showing value of mineral production in Kansas since 1900.

The most important mineral products of Kansas are petroleum, natural gas, coal, lead, zinc, salt, gypsum, cement, clay and stone. These various materials occur in different geological formations and under different geological conditions. Accurate knowledge concerning the formations which contain the minerals and the condition of their occurrence is of utmost value in prospecting and development work. These various resources will be described briefly in the following pages.

Records of mineral production in Kansas have been gathered mainly by the United States Geological Survey and recently by the United States Bureau of Mines. The State Geological Survey has cooperated in this statistical work, and through the courtesy of operators data are on the whole fairly complete. Detailed information on the development of some of the mineral resources is lacking, for the state survey has not been continuously active. Table 1 shows the total mineral production of Kansas before 1901 and the production by years from 1901 to 1925, inclusive. The total value of this production reaches the huge amount of $1,754,566,706 and as certain records are necessarily incomplete in some particulars, this total probably represents less than the actual value of the state's mineral production. Table 2 shows the distribution of mineral production for 1925.

Table 1—Total Value Mineral Production in Kansas, by Years, to 1926.

Year Value
Before 1901 $180,393,614
1901 $30,223,133
1902 $21,253,333
1903 $27,154,008
1904 $23,258,616
1905 $25,648,382
1906 $22,584,076
1907 $29,932,608
1908 $26,162,213
1909 $29,447,159
1910 $28,304,191
1911 $24,890,043
1912 $25,795,267
1913 $26,770,302
1914 $25,324,035
1915 $28,436,446
1916 $41,847,955
1917 $106,763,055
1918 $147,902,091
1919 $120,759,783
1920 $198,097,758
1921 $113,098,346
1922 $103,884,561
1923 $110,630,255
1924 $105,005,476
1925 $141,000,000
Total $1,754,566,706

Table 2—Mineral Production of Kansas in 1925. (Preliminary and subject to revision.)

Product Quantity Value
Asphalt (oil), short tons (a) (a)
Cement, barrels (b) 6,513,297 (b) $10,861,608
Chats, short tons 208,060 28,969
Clay products (estimated)   4,000,000
Coal, short tons (estimated) 4,092,000 11,500,000
Gypsum, short tons 166,952 1,009,610
Lead, short tons 22,775 3,962,860
Mineral paints, zinc and lead pigments, short tons (c, d) (c, d)
Mineral waters, gallons sold (e) (e)
Natural gas, M cubic feet 26,917,000 9,991,000
Natural-gas gasoline, gallons 19,592,000 2,228,000
Petroleum, barrels 38,357,000 74,410,000
Pumice, short tons 35,385 122,8411
Salt, short tons 812,540 2,494,418
Sand and gravel, short tons 2,198,870 1,808,060
Stone, short tons (f) 705,780 (f) 958,779
Zinc, short tons 118,778 18,054,256
Miscellaneous (g)   1,870,192
Total value, eliminating duplications   $141,000,000
(a) Figures not available by states.
(b) Exclusive of natural cement, value of which is included under "Miscellaneous."
(c) Value included under "Miscellaneous."
(d) Value not included in total value for state.
(e) No canvas for 1925.
(f) Exclusive of sandstone, value for which is included under "Miscellaneous."
(g) Includes minerals indicated by "b," "c," and "f" above.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web March 23, 2018; originally published November 1, 1927.
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