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Geology of Mitchell and Osborne Counties

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Purpose of the Report

The investigation of the geology of Mitchell and Osborne counties had three primary objectives. The first was the reconnaissance mapping of the outcropping geological formations. The greater part of the time in which the writer was in the field was spent on this work, and the resulting map not only illustrates the report but also constitutes a part of the geological map of Kansas now in preparation by the State Geological Survey. The existence of a detailed geological map, whether of a county or of a state, is of. great value. Many of our mineral products, such as coal, salt, gypsum and even oil and gas, are confined in their occurrence to certain series of geological formations, and on a geological map the location of the outcrops of these rocks is indicated. Consequently intelligent prospecting for new mineral deposits is dependent upon a detailed geological map. Complete state maps have already been made of Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, and many other states.

A second objective was to add to the scientific knowledge of the rock strata of this region, both those that crop out and those that lie beneath the surface. Many sections of exposed rock beds were measured and described, indicating in some detail the nature of the geologic formations in Mitchell and Osborne counties. In addition, the formations which do not outcrop at the surface were studied by J. W. Ockerman by means of well cuttings, and his descriptions and discussion are included in this report. Stratigraphic studies are necessary both in the preparation of the geological maps and in the search for mineral deposits located beneath the surface. By means of a geological map and stratigraphic data supplied by the geological survey the prospector can determine the depth at any given locality to possible oil, coal, or other mineral-bearing formations.

The third purpose of this report is to aid in the exploitation of the natural resources of Mitchell and Osborne counties. Practical assistance is given to those who wish to find new deposits of oil and gas, road materials, underground water or other mineral products in these counties. The farmers and landowners in the area covered by the geologic map are benefited because soil is essentially dependent on the nature of the rock formations from which it is derived. A first step in scientific agriculture is an accurate geological and soil survey which supplies information on the characteristics and a guide to the most advantageous use of the soils.

Previous Geological Work

No detailed reports dealing specifically with the geology of Mitchell and Osborne counties have been published. However, this area has been visited by several geologists and some data collected by them have appeared in print. In 1890 Robert Hay (1890) made a section across the salt marsh in southeastern Mitchell County and discussed the origin of the salt in its relation to local stratigraphy. In 1897 the Kansas University Geological Survey published its "Report on the Stratigraphy and General Geology of Western Kansas." In this volume there appears a general discussion of the physiography of western Kansas by Erasmus Haworth (1897) and the first detailed description of the Kansas Cretaceous, written by W. N. Logan (1897). In addition the latter author describes geological sections made by him from Clifton, in Cloud County, to the Colorado line, across both Mitchell and Osborne counties, and another section from Beloit to Tipton, in Mitchell County. There also appeared in this report a reconnaissance geological map of the state which shows in an approximate manner the distribution of the Niobrara, Benton, and Dakota outcrops in Osborne and Mitchell counties. Prof. E. H. S. Bailey, in his report on the Mineral Waters of Kansas, includes a description of Great Spirit or Waconda Springs in Mitchell County, and analyses of the water (Bailey, 1902, p. 197-206). N. H. Darton's "Preliminary Report on the Geology and Underground Water Resources of the Central Great Plains" (1905) includes a discussion of the stratigraphy of western Kansas and of the deep-water wells in the various counties.

Between 1905 and 1925 no publications were issued describing results of field investigation in this part of Kansas. In 1925 a detailed report by Rubey and Bass on the "Geology of Russell County" presented observations that are applicable to Osborne County, adjoining on the north, and to Mitchell County, farther east (Rubey and Bass, 1925). The following year N. W. Bass described the geology of Ellis County, which lies west of Russell County (Bass, 1926, p. 11-52). In another part of the report by Bass the regional structure of the top of the Dakota sandstone of western Kansas is described, with a map extending in northern Kansas as far east as Cloud County (Bass, 1926, p. 84-89). Simultaneously with the field work in preparation for the present report, a party in charge of Monta E. Wing was engaged in mapping the geology of Cloud and Republic counties, which lie to the east and northeast of Mitchell County (Wing, 1930).

Field Work and Acknowledgments

The field work on which this report is based was carried on during the summer of 1929. Mitchell County was mapped by the writer, assisted by Lyndon Morrow, while the geological work in Osborne County was done by R. G. Moss. The writer is indebted to these men both for their able assistance in the field and for their helpful cooperation in the preparation of the manuscript. Field conferences with Monta E. Wing, engaged in mapping Cloud County to the east, and with H. D. Miser and J. B. Reeside, Jr., of the United States Geological Survey, were of valuable assistance in securing a better understanding of the local stratigraphy. The writer also wishes to acknowledge aid given him by local citizens, especially J. P. Boesche, William Drinkern, and Dr. W. H. Cook, all of Beloit.

The geological mapping was of a reconnaissance nature and the formation boundaries were sketched on quadrangle topographic sheets of the U. S. Geological Survey. Many vertical sections of the formations were measured, chiefly by hand level but in some instances by stadia. Most of the rock descriptions were made in the field, although some specimens were collected and subsequently examined in the laboratories of the State Geological Survey. Studies of the well logs and well cuttings were made by J. W. Ockerman, of the Survey staff, and the results obtained constitute a part of this report.

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