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Classification of Rocks in Kansas (1968)

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By Howard G. O'Connor, Doris E. Zeller, Charles K. Bayne, John Mark Jewett, and Ada Swineford

Rocks of Permian age that occur in Kansas include predominantly marine deposits in the lower part of the section and marine and non-marine deposits in the upper part. The prevailing dip of outcropping Permian strata is westward or northwestward.

Lowermost Permian beds consisting of light-gray to cream-colored limestones, many of which are distinguished by an abundance of chert, form persistent eastward-facing escarpments in the Flint Hills, which extend across Kansas from Nemaha County on the Nebraska border to western Chautauqua County on the Oklahoma border. Limestones and calcareous shales in the Flint Hills are characterized by abundant marine fossils.

West of the Flint Hills, and roughly paralleling them, is a lowland that is formed on shales of the Wellington Formation. Above the Wellington, beds of red siltstone and shale, containing some gypsum, form the Red Hills in south-central Kansas from eastern Meade County to Harper County. Occurring in the red beds are a few thin, persistent dolomites. Thick deposits of salt that are present in the Wellington and at other horizons in the subsurface are not found on the surface.

A two-fold classification for the Permian (O'Connor, 1963) has been adopted by the Kansas Geological Survey:

Upper PermianCusterian Stage
Lower PermianCimarronian Stage
Gearyan Stage

Permian rocks occur in the subsurface of Kansas west of the outcrop belt (Fig. 8). They are covered unconformably by Jurassic rocks locally near the southwest corner of the State and in the subsurface of some northwestern counties, and elsewhere, by Cretaceous, Tertiary, and Quaternary rocks. A thickness of 3,000 feet is attained in the Hugoton embayment (Fig. 2).

Figure 8--Distribution of Permian rocks in Kansas (adapted from State Geol. Survey Kansas, 1964).

Map showing Permian at the surface (light blue) and in the subsurface (dark blue in western two-thirds of state).

The structure of buried Permian rocks in Kansas is broadly synclinal, except where they overlie the Nemaha anticline. The axis of the syncline trends north-northwest across the western one-third of the State, and it plunges gently northward. Eastward dips are found in subsurface Permian strata in westernmost Kansas.

Lower Permian Series

In a recent revision of Kansas stratigraphic nomenclature, the great bulk of Kansas Permian rocks has been assigned to the Lower Permian Series (O'Connor, 1963). The Series comprises more than 1,900 feet of evaporite-bearing siltstones, sandstones, and shales in the upper part and a little less than 800 feet of alternating limestone, shale, and minor amounts of gypsum in the lower part, aggregating a total thickness of roughly 2,700 feet. Lower Permian rocks in Kansas have been subdivided into two stages, Gearyan (below) and Cimarronian (above).


The Gearyan Stage (O'Connor, 1963) comprises three groups, the Admire, the Council Grove, and the Chase. It contains about 790 feet of rocks, which are predominantly limestone and shale, and contains units that are remarkably continuous laterally. The Gearyan Stage is named from Geary County in northeastern Kansas. Rocks of this stage are exposed throughout east-central Kansas in a north-northeast-trending belt from Cowley County on the Oklahoma border to Marshall and Brown counties on the Nebraska border.

Admire Group

This division consists chiefly of clastic deposits but contains some thin limestones and coal beds. Shale predominates. The thickness is about 130 feet. In places where sandstone in the basal part seemingly fills channels, the thickness may be appreciably more.


This formation includes the Towle Shale Member, the Aspinwall Limestone Member, and the Hawxby Shale Member. The thickness is about 30 feet.

Towle Shale Member

The Towle Shale Member is a gray, red, and green clayey and silty shale with some thin limestone beds (Moore and Mudge, 1956). In most exposures, the Towle Shale lies with apparent conformity on the Brownville Limestone Member of Pennsylvanian age. The Indian Cave sandstone fills channels cut into underlying beds. These channels may be as much as 85 feet in depth (Mudge and Yochelson, 1962). The common thickness of the Towle ranges from about 2 to 15 feet.

Aspinwall Limestone Member

The Aspinwall Limestone Member is made up of one limestone bed or several limestone beds separated by calcareous shales. The member thickens southward, with calcareous shale predominating in the lower and middle parts. It is sparsely fossiliferous, the most abundant fossils being mollusks and productid brachiopods. The thickness ranges from about 1 to 15 feet.

Hawxby Shale Member

The Hawxby Shale Member is a gray to yellowish-gray shale, which contains some green and red shale in the lower part. The upper part is calcareous and locally sandy. The thickness ranges from about 4 to 19 feet.


In northeastern Kansas the Falls City Limestone consists of an upper and lower fossiliferous limestone bed separated by gray shale containing fossiliferous limestone lenses. The Falls City in southeastern Kansas is thinner and probably contains beds which are correlative with the lower part of the formation in northeastern Kansas. The limestone beds are argillaceous and contain mollusks, bryozoans, and brachiopods. Cone-in-cone structures are characteristic of the upper beds in the central part of the outcrop area. The thickness ranges from about 6 to 17 feet.


The Janesville Shale contains the West Branch Shale Member, the Five Point Limestone Member, and the Hamlin Shale Member (Moore and Mudge, 1956). The maximum thickness is about 90 feet.

West Branch Shale Member

The West Branch Shale Member is a gray, green, and red shale. In central and southeastern Kansas it is sandy in the upper part and may contain up to 5 feet of sandstone locally. One or more persistent coal beds occur in the upper and middle parts of the member. Limestone lenses are present in the West Branch Shale in northeastern Kansas. The thickness ranges from about 20 feet to about 43 feet.

Five Point Limestone Member

The Five Point Limestone Member consists of one or more limestone beds, which are massive to slabby and fossiliferous. Locally the upper part is a thin coquina. The thickness of the member is about 1 to 13 feet, commonly about 3 feet.

Hamlin Shale Member

The Hamlin Shale Member comprises maroon to grayish-green shale, thin tannish- to grayish-brown limestones, and tan siltstones and sandstones. Celestite is present in the upper beds in Brown County. In northeastern Kansas the Houchen Creek limestone bed, which occurs in the upper part of this member, consists largely of laminated algal structures. The thickness of the Hamlin ranges from about 34 feet to 52 feet.

Council Grove Group

This division of Permian rocks comprises about 310 to 330 feet of limestones and shales. In general, these rocks include less massive and thinner limestone units than occur in the overlying Chase Group.


The Foraker Limestone consists of two limestone members and a shale member. The thickness is about 50 feet.

Americus Limestone Member

This member commonly consists of two gray to bluish-gray limestone beds separated by a medium-gray to very dark-gray shale bed. The limestones are fossiliferous, containing crinoids, brachiopods, bryozoans, pelecypods, fusulinids, and algae, and in southeastern outcrops the upper beds are cherty. The thickness ranges from 1.5 to 20 feet (Mudge and Yochelson, 1962).

Hughes Creek Shale Member

In northeastern Kansas this part of the Foraker comprises light-gray to nearly black shale and thin limestone beds containing a profusion of fusulinids and abundant brachiopods. In southeastern Kansas the member is predominantly limestone, massive in the lower part and containing much chert. The thickness ranges from about 20 to 56 feet.

Long Creek Limestone Member

This member consists of alternating beds of grayish-orange limestone and dolomitic limestone containing secondary calcite, celestite, and colorless to pink or red quartz and thin-bedded, olive-gray shale. In southeastern Kansas the limestone is light gray and sparsely fossiliferous and is divided into an upper and a lower unit by a brown to gray shale. The thickness ranges from 2.5 to 12 feet.


This formation is a tan, gray, green, and red shale which contains thin beds of argillaceous limestone. Carbonaceous material occurs in the upper part. The lower part locally contains thin beds of gypsum. The thickness ranges from 13 to 26 feet.


This formation contains two limestone members and one shale member. In southeastern Kansas the Red Eagle contains very little shale, but the members still can be identified. The thickness ranges from 6 to 33 feet.

Glenrock Limestone Member

The Glenrock Member is a gray to brownish-gray limestone containing brachiopods, algae, gastropods, abundant fusulinids, and other smaller foraminifers. The member can be traced in outcrops from southern Nebraska to southern Cowley County, except for a small area in Wabaunsee County where it is absent. The thickness ranges from 0 to about 3 feet.

Bennett Shale Member

North of Wabaunsee County the Bennett is chiefly gray to very dark-gray, calcareous shale containing Orbiculoidea. From southern Wabaunsee County to southern Greenwood County the member contains an increasing amount of limestone. South of Greenwood County the Bennett is chiefly light-gray limestone in which brachiopods, echinoderms, corals, and algae are common (O'Connor and Jewett, 1952). The thickness ranges from 4 to 27 feet.

Howe Limestone Member

The Howe Limestone Member is a persistent and uniform gray to grayish-brown, fine-grained algal limestone. Its fauna includes tiny pelecypods and gastropods, ostracodes, and foraminifers. The thickness is from 1 to 6 feet.


The Roca Shale consists of gray, gray-green, and red shales and thin, gray, argillaceous limestones. The thickness ranges from 7 to 34 feet.


This formation includes three limestone members and two shale members. The thickness ranges from 32 to 54 feet.

Sallyards Limestone Member

The Sallyards Limestone Member is a gray to tannish-gray fossiliferous limestone with thin shale breaks. It contains a molluscan fauna and locally other fossils. The thickness ranges from about 0.3 foot to 5 feet.

Legion Shale Member

This member is gray shale containing some black fissile shale. Locally it contains thin pelecypod- and brachiopod-bearing limestones. The thickness ranges from about 1.4 to 13 feet.

Burr Limestone Member

The Burr Limestone Member is fossiliferous gray limestone and gray to olive-gray shale. In Chase County the middle limestone beds are very fine-grained and platy. Ostracodes are abundant in some of the limestones. Mollusks and other fossils are abundant locally in the lower beds. The thickness ranges from 1 to 15 feet.

Salem Point Shale Member

This member is a silty, calcareous gray shale without fossils or very sparingly fossiliferous. The thickness ranges from 4 to 15 feet.

Neva Limestone Member

The Neva Limestone Member comprises gray limestone beds interbedded with gray and grayish-green shale beds. The basal bed is a gray algal limestone 0.4 foot to 3.7 feet thick, which is overlain by medium-gray to very dark-gray, silty, calcareous shale about 3 feet thick. Fusulinids, Orbiculoidea, and Crurithyrus are abundant in the shale. In the central part of its outcrop a lens of gray limestone divides the shale. Next above is the main limestone ledge of the Neva, a gray, massive limestone 1.8 to 14.4 feet thick. This bed has a brecciated and porous appearance on outcrops and contains a diverse fauna of fusulinids, brachiopods, echinoids, and algae. About 3 feet of gray to grayish-green fossiliferous shale separates the main ledge from the upper limestone. The upper limestone is gray and fossiliferous and ranges from 0.6 foot to 6 feet in thickness. Overall thickness of the member ranges from 9 feet in Lyon County to 28 feet in Cowley County.


The Eskridge Shale is composed of varicolored shales with gray and tannish-gray being the predominant color. Two persistent molluscan limestones are found in the middle or lower part of the Eskridge, and a thin coal occurs in the formation in Lyon, Wabaunsee, and Brown counties. The thickness ranges from 20 to 41 feet.


This formation contains two limestone members and a shale member. The thickness ranges from about 10 to 25 feet.

Cottonwood Limestone Member

This limestone is massive, light buff, weathering nearly white, cherty, and contains abundant fusulinids in the upper part. In southern Kansas and locally elsewhere it is thin-bedded and shaly. It contains five distinct facies (Laporte, 1962). Along much of its outcrop it is marked by a fringe of shrubs on the grass-covered slopes of the Flint Hills. Except for thinning toward the south, the thickness of the Cottonwood is remarkably constant, amounting to about 6 feet.

Florena Shale Member

The Florena Shale Member is a highly fossiliferous calcareous, gray to tannish-gray shale containing thin nodular limestone beds in southeastern Kansas. Dolomitic shale occurs in the Florena from southern Wabaunsee County to northern Greenwood County. Chonetes granulifer is abundant in the Florena. In southern outcrops the variety of fossils is greater than in the north. The fauna contains numerous species of pelecypods and brachiopods, and well-preserved specimens of a small trilobite are common locally. The thickness ranges from about 3 to 18 feet.

Morrill Limestone Member

This unit consists of brown to grayish-brown, argillaceous, cellular-weathering limestone that generally contains one or more thin shale partings. In southern outcrops the Morrill contains much algal (Osagia) limestone. The thickness ranges from about 2 to 9 feet.


This formation is mostly gray to olive-gray shale, but red shale occurs in the middle and lower parts. It contains a minor amount of argillaceous limestone and locally, in Lyon and Morris counties, a thin coal bed. The thickness ranges from about 5 feet to 20 feet.


This formation is made up of two limestone members and a shale member. The thickness ranges from 15 to 33 feet.

Eiss Limestone Member

The Eiss Member contains two limestone beds separated by shale and is remarkably persistent across Kansas. The lower limestone, 1.5 to 6 feet in thickness, is shaly, thin-bedded, and fossiliferous. It contains abundant, small, high-spired gastropods. The middle part, 2 to 11 feet locally, consists of gray fossiliferous shale. The upper limestone bed, 2 to 3 feet thick, is siliceous and locally contains some chert. The thickness of the member ranges from about 7 to 18 feet.

Hooser Shale Member

This member is a gray to grayish-green and red shale. Its thickness ranges from 3 to 11 feet.

Middleburg Limestone Member

The Middleburg Limestone Member consists of a slabby to massive limestone, a middle olive- to dark-gray shale, the lower part of which is fossiliferous, and an upper platy limestone. Thickness ranges from about 1.5 to 8 feet.


This formation consists of red, green, and gray shale, locally containing thin limestone beds. The lower part of the formation is largely red shale; the upper part is light-colored, calcareous shale. In Marshall County a bed of gypsum, approximately 8 feet thick, occurs in the basal part. The thickness is about 10 to 20 feet.


The Crouse Limestone comprises an upper and a lower limestone separated by a few feet of fossiliferous shale. The upper part displays platy structure and weathers tan to brown. The limestone beds locally are cherty. The thickness ranges from about 6 to 18 feet.


This formation is a gray, green, and red shale, locally containing some limestone. A thin coal bed occurs in the upper part in Geary County. The thickness ranges from about 15 to 30 feet.


The Funston is a light-gray to bluish-gray limestone separated by gray to yellowish-gray shale that commonly is abundantly fossiliferous. In southern and central Kansas outcrops bluish-gray to grayish-black shale occurs in the lower part, and locally the limestone beds contain chert. The thickness of the Funston ranges from about 5 to 28 feet.


The upper part of this formation consists of gray fossiliferous shale underlain by a fairly persistent limestone bed, which is commonly less than 1 foot thick and occurs about 3 feet below the Wreford Limestone. The remainder consists of beds of varicolored shale, red shale being predominant. The thickness of the Speiser is about 18 feet in northern and central Kansas outcrops and about 35 feet in the southeastern part of the State, where a lenticular bed of sandstone occurs in the middle part.

Chase Group

This group is made up of about 335 feet of escarpment-making limestones alternating with shales. The shale formations are characterized by shades of red and green. The thick chert-bearing limestones are a prominent topographic feature in the Flint Hills.


The Wreford Limestone contains two limestone members and a shale member. The limestones are characterized by an abundance of chert. The thickness ranges from about 30 to 40 feet.

Threemile Limestone Member

The Threemile Limestone Member is a light-gray to nearly white limestone, cherty in part, but containing massive and more resistant non-cherty beds in the middle and lower parts. The thickness ranges from about 6 to 33 feet.

Havensville Shale Member

This member is a gray, calcareous shale containing thin limestone beds. The shale thins considerably in southeastern Kansas and becomes more calcareous. Locally, as in southern Riley County, algal and coquinoidal limestone occurs in this interval. The thickness ranges from about 1.5 to 27 feet.

Schroyer Limestone Member

The Schroyer Member is a light-gray to nearly white limestone, mostly chert-bearing, but commonly containing a noncherty bed about 3 feet thick in the upper part. The thickness ranges from about 6 to 13 feet (Hattin, 1957).


The Matfield Shale contains two varicolored shale members separated by a limestone member. The thickness ranges from about 50 to 80 feet.

Wymore Shale Member

This member is gray and yellowish-gray shale with beds of vivid red, green, and purple shale. Limestone beds and fossiliferous shale beds are included in the lower part in the southeastern part of the State. The thickness ranges from about 9 to 25 feet.

Kinney Limestone Member

This member generally includes two gray fossiliferous limestone beds separated by a gray fossiliferous shale bed. The thickness ranges from about 1 to 24 feet.

Blue Springs Shale Member

The Blue Springs Member consists chiefly of red and gray shale, and a relatively minor amount of limestone; In southeastern Kansas the gray calcareous shales and several of the thin limestone beds, which occur in the upper part of the member, are fossiliferous. In northeastern Kansas the member is less calcareous and limestone is absent. The thickness ranges from about 15 to 35 feet.


This formation comprises two thick limestone members separated by a thin shale member. The upper limestone makes an extensive dip slope and crops out as a steep escarpment that extends from north to south across eastern Kansas. The Barneston Limestone caps much of the western part of the Flint Hills. The thickness of the formation ranges from about 80 to 90 feet.

Florence Limestone Member

The Florence Limestone Member is chiefly limestone with an abundance of chert and a minor amount of shale. The limestone is light-gray to yellowish-gray in color with nodules and layers of bluish-gray chert. Fossils include brachiopods, pelecypods, bryozoans, and fusulinids. The thickness ranges from 12 to 45 feet.

Oketo Shale Member

The Oketo is a calcareous, gray shale. It is generally absent in southeastern Kansas and locally absent elsewhere. The thickness ranges from 0 to 8 feet, but is generally less than 5 feet.

Fort Riley Limestone Member

The Fort Riley is a light-gray to tan, massive to thin-bedded limestone with a minor amount of gray shale. In the basal part there are thin, shaly beds that are overlain by a massive "rim rock," which is a conspicuous outcrop maker. Thin shaly beds and locally clayey shale occurs in the middle part. The upper strata are massive, but less so than the "rim rock." Algae are somewhat conspicuous in the "rim rock." The thickness ranges from about 30 to 45 feet.


Two shale members and a separating limestone member comprise the Doyle Shale. The thickness is about 70 feet.

Holmesville Shale Member

The Holmesville Shale Member is green, gray, yellow, and red, unfossiliferous shale containing argillaceous limestone. The thickness ranges from about 7 to 33 feet.

Towanda Limestone Member

This member consists of light bluish-gray to yellow, slabby and platy limestone that is commonly brecciated in the upper part. Fossils are generally rare. The common thickness ranges from about 5 to 15 feet.

Gage Shale Member

The Gage Shale Member is mostly clayey shale, but calcareous fossiliferous shale and a minor amount of limestone occur in the upper part. The lower and middle parts are chiefly noncalcareous red, green, purple, and chocolate-colored shale interbedded with gray and yellow shale. The characteristic thickness is approximately 45 feet.


This formation consists of a thin limestone member that is locally cherty overlain by a member that comprises about 10 feet of fossiliferous gray shale, and a thick upper limestone member that is locally cherty. The two lower members are not definitely identified in southeastern Kansas. The combined thickness is about 25 feet.

Stovall Limestone Member

The Stovall Member is a dense, gray limestone with an abundance of gray chert in northeastern Kansas. It becomes thicker and less cherty in Chase County, but it thins southward and is absent in Cowley County. Fossils are rare. The thickness is commonly about 1 foot.

Grant Shale Member

This member is a gray, calcareous and fossiliferous shale. It is a distinct unit except in southern Kansas. The Grant is abundantly fossiliferous at some exposures. Thickness in northern outcrops is about 10 to 12 feet; in central outcrops it is about 6 feet.

Cresswell Limestone Member

This member consists of a massive fossiliferous limestone in the lower part and locally shale in the middle and upper parts. Echinoid spines and other fossils are plentiful in the lower massive limestone. The shaly middle part commonly contains calcareous concretions, geodes, and some chert. Cavernous weathering is characteristic. Throughout a considerable distance the lower massive ledge is about 3 feet thick. South of Butler County the lower part of the Cresswell consists of two massive beds of hard gray limestone separated by a thin limy shale; these have an aggregate thickness of 8 to 10 feet. Near the State line this part of the Cresswell is a single massive bed about 12 feet thick. Above the massive part of the Cresswell, rocks consisting of a thin-bedded limy shale and shaly limestone have been called the "Luta limestone," but these are now considered to be a part of the Cresswell. The boundary between the Cresswell and the Odell Shale is not distinct. The maximum thickness of the member is 25 feet.


The Odell Shale is chiefly red and green shale with some gray and yellow shale. The thickness ranges from 20 to 40 feet.


This formation consists of an upper and a lower limestone member separated by a shale member in northern and central Kansas outcrops. In southern Kansas outcrops, the member boundaries are not clearly defined. Thickness ranges from about 22 to 40 feet.

Krider Limestone Member

This member commonly comprises two beds of limestone separated by a bed of shale, each generally slightly more than 1 foot thick. In southern Kansas outcrops the separating shale is somewhat thicker. The color is yellowish-brown. The characteristic thickness is about 4 feet.

Paddock Shale Member

The Paddock is a gray shale, which in northern Kansas outcrops contains stringers and vein fillings of calcite. In southern Kansas outcrops it is buff colored and contains dolomite in the lower part. Pelecypods are locally abundant in northern and central Kansas outcrops. The thickness ranges from about 7 to 13 feet.

Herington Limestone Member

The Herington is composed of yellowish-tan, dolomitic limestone and dolomite. It is more dolomitic in southern and central Kansas outcrops than in the northern outcrops. The Herington is characterized by siliceous and calcareous geodes and concretions, and cauliflower-like masses of chert and quartz. Fossil mollusks are locally abundant. The thickness ranges from 6 to 10 feet in the northern part of the outcrop area and is about 30 feet in the southern part of Kansas.


The Cimarronian Stage (O'Connor, 1963) includes the evaporite-bearing clastic rocks that form the upper two-thirds of the Lower Permian section in Kansas. This 1,900-foot sequence of rocks is divided into two groups of roughly equal thickness: the red and gray Sumner Group below, and the predominantly red Nippewalla Group above. Cimarronian rocks are exposed from Comanche to Cowley counties in southern Kansas and northward to Washington County (Fig. 1). The Cimarronian Stage is probably equivalent to the Leonardian Stage and the lower part of the Guadalupian Stage of the West Texas section.

Sumner Group

This division comprises about 1,000 feet of strata at the outcrop, chiefly shale and silty shale. Thick beds of salt occur in the subsurface. Gray shale predominates, but there are also beds of red, maroon, purple, and green shale, as well as dolomite, limestone, gypsum, and anhydrite.


In its outcrop area the Wellington is predominantly shale with minor amounts of limestone and dolomite, siltstone, and gypsum and anhydrite (Swineford, 1955). The shales are chiefly gray and greenish-gray, with some red, maroon, and purple shale. The limestones and dolomites are generally light colored and argillaceous. Thick beds of salt are present in the subsurface. The Wellington includes marine and brackish- and fresh-water deposits. Lingula, Derbyia, mollusks, ostracodes, and cup corals are found in the lower part. Conchostracans (clam shrimp) and carbonized plant remains are found in much of the Wellington with the exception of the uppermost part (Tasch, 1964 [1966]). Well-preserved fossil insects occur at several horizons. The thickness of the formation is about 700 feet.

Hollenberg Limestone Member

A bed of argillaceous, dolomitic limestone, not definitely known to be of widespread occurrence, has been named the "Hollenberg Limestone Member" in Washington County and tentatively identified in Cowley and Clay counties. The thickness is 1 to 5 feet.

Carlton Limestone Member

The lenticular Carlton Limestone Member (in some places dolomitic) occurs below the Hutchinson Salt Member. Freshwater deposits in this member contain fossil insects.

Hutchinson Salt Member

The Hutchinson Salt Member occurs in the subsurface in Central Kansas. Because it is highly soluble, it is not found in outcrops of the Wellington. The thickness of the member in the subsurface exceeds 700 feet in Clark County (Kulstad, 1959).

Milan Limestone Member

The Milan Limestone Member consists of one to three thin beds of greenish-gray shaly limestone or fine-grained dolomitic limestone containing barite, which on the outcrop are characterized by bright-green copper carbonate. A thin bed of maroon and gray shale commonly underlies the topmost limestone bed. Where the member is absent the change in color from gray to purplish-red shale or reddish-brown shale may be regarded as the upper boundary. The member may be as much as 8 feet in thickness.


The Ninnescah is a predominantly silty shale, mostly red, but containing some gray shale, argillaceous limestone and dolomite, and calcareous siltstone. Some weathered surfaces show bright-green copper carbonate. Several distinctive beds of calcareous or dolomitic siltstone and calcareous shale have been traced for long distances. Clam shrimp--Cyzicus (Lioestheria)--are common, particularly in nonred layers. Some of the beds show ripple marks. Rosette-shaped calcareous concretions occur in the middle part. Weathering and erosion of these beds have produced the "Red Jaw" country in Reno County. This unit contains much salt in the subsurface in south-western Kansas. The formation thins northward and is only about 50 feet thick in the subsurface near the Nebraska state line. The maximum outcrop thickness, however, is about 450 feet; the average thickness is about 300 feet.

Runnymede Sandstone Member

This member, which marks the top of the Ninnescah Shale, is a very fine-grained, gray to grayish-green siltstone and sandstone. The thickness is about 7 to 8 feet.


The Stone Corral Formation is composed of dolomite, anhydrite, gypsum, and salt. The anhydrite, gypsum, and salt portions are lost through solution in exposed sections and the remaining dolomite ledge is cellular or contains numerous calcite-filled or gypsum-filled vugs. The dolomite ledge is not well developed south of Rice County. Parts of the formation are oolitic in Rice County. The color is chiefly gray but locally there are red and pink streaks. Ripple marks are common. At some exposures the formation is chiefly red shale, bounded above and below by thin dolomite beds. The outcrop belt is interrupted in eastern Rice, western McPherson, and other counties to the south by eastward overlap of Cenozoic deposits. The Stone Corral is one of the most readily recognized "key beds" in the Kansas subsurface red-beds section, as it produces well-marked reflections in seismograph surveys. Maximum measured thickness at the outcrop is about 6 feet.

Nippewalla Group

This group includes the generally unfossiliferous strata below the Whitehorse Formation and above the Stone Corral Formation and is widely exposed in south-central Kansas south of the Arkansas River. The rocks are mostly red beds that form a nearly featureless plain. In Barber County and adjacent areas, where gypsum beds make prominent escarpments, the Nippewalla forms highly dissected badland topography. It contains thick salt beds in the subsurface. The total thickness on the surface is about 930 feet.


This formation is chiefly red argillaceous siltstone and very fine silty sandstone divided into two members. It crops out in Harper, Kingman, Reno, and Rice counties. The thickness is about 220 feet.

Chikaskia Sandstone Member

The Chikaskia is composed of siltstone, silty sandstone, and shale, which are predominantly red but may be gray or other colors. It contains fine-grained, ripple-marked, and locally crossbedded sandstone in the lower part. Some white sandy siltstone and dolomite lenses and concretions occur in the upper part. This member thins northward along the outcrop. The thickness ranges from about 100 to 160 feet.

Kingman Sandstone Member

The Kingman Sandstone Member is a red argillaceous siltstone and silty sandstone with a few beds of red shale and white sandstone. A prominent bed of white sandy siltstone, 3 feet thick, occurs at the base. The thickness is about 80 feet.


This formation is composed chiefly of red, flaky, silty shale and some siltstone. There are two prominent coarse silty sandstone beds, the lower one, the Crisfield sandstone bed, about 29 feet thick, occurring about 115 feet below the top of the formation, and the upper, about 25 feet thick, occurring about 42 feet below the top of the formation. The coarse silty sandstones are in part crossbedded. Outcrops in eastern Barber, Harper, and southern Kingman counties form a surface of low relief. The thickness is about 265 feet.


The Cedar Hills Sandstone comprises feldspathic sandstone, siltstone, and silty shale, chiefly red, and beds of white sandstone in the upper and lower parts. The upper sandstone bed contains "snowballs" of white gypsum. Shaly siltstones are interbedded with the more resistant and more massive coarse siltstones and very fine sandstones. The Cedar Hills crops out in Barber County. The thickness is about 180 feet.


The Flower-pot Shale (formerly Flowerpot) consists of about 180 feet of reddish-brown gypsiferous shale and silty shale with a few thin beds of sandstone and siltstone. A thin lenticular bed of dolomitic sandstone has been observed in the middle part, and the formation is cut by intersecting veins of satin spar (gypsum). Thin fine-grained sandstones occur near the top. The formation is exposed in Barber, southeastern Kiowa, southeastern Clark, and Comanche counties. Outcrops are strewn with white, pink, and red satin spar and clear crystals of selenite.


This formation consists mainly of gypsum beds separated by dolomite and red shale. It is divided into four members. In many places the upper three members are absent (Swineford, 1955). Outcrops are found in Clark, Comanche, Kiowa, and Barber counties. The thickness is about 50 feet.

Medicine Lodge Gypsum Member

This is the thickest bed of gypsum in Kansas, and it forms a conspicuous rim rock at the top of steep slopes of the Flower-pot Shale. Ordinarily there is a bed of oolitic dolomite and anhydrite at the base, which ranges from 0.5 to 1 foot in thickness. The maximum thickness of the member is 30 feet or more; the average is 20 feet.

Nescatunga Gypsum Member

This member includes 8 feet or less of red shale underlying 2 to 8 feet of gypsum, which is overlain by 8 feet or less of red shale. The gypsum bed pinches out in Comanche County and is absent in Barber County.

Shimer Gypsum Member

The Shimer Gypsum Member consists of 13 to 23 feet of gypsum overlying 0.5 foot to 1.5 feet of oolitic dolomite.

Haskew Gypsum Member

This member consists of 1 foot or less of gypsum underlain by about 5 feet of red shale. The gypsum in most places has been removed by solution.


Maroon silty shale, siltstone, very fine-grained feldspathic sandstone, thin layers of dolomite, dolomitic sandstone, and gypsum comprise the Dog Creek Formation (formerly Dog Creek shale). The top generally is marked by about 3 feet of maroon shale, but locally a gypsum bed about 1 foot thick and having red and white laminae occurs at the top. The most persistent part is a 6-foot bed of white and red very fine-grained sandstone, that locally is capped by dolomitic sandstone, which occurs next below the upper maroon shale. The outcrops are in southeastern Kiowa, eastern Comanche, and western Barber counties. The thickness ranges from 14 to 53 feet. Where the upper three gypsum members of the Blaine Formation are missing, the Dog Creek includes the shales overlying the Medicine Lodge Member.

Upper Permian Series

The revised Upper Permian Series includes beds from the base of the Whitehorse Formation through the Big Basin Formation (O'Connor, 1963). These comprise red sandstones, shales, and siltstones, and a minor amount of dolomite. They are seemingly unfossiliferous. Upper Permian rocks are exposed along the Kansas-Oklahoma border from Barber County to Meade County. The thickness of the series is about 315 feet. It contains only one stage (Custerian).


Fay (1965) named the Custerian Series and included in it the Whitehorse Group, the Cloud Chief Formation, the Doxey Shale, and the Elk City Sandstone of Oklahoma. The Custerian Stage is adapted herein for those rocks from the base of the Whitehorse Formation to the top of the Big Basin Formation. The Custerian Stage includes 315 feet of red sandstone, siltstone, gypsum, and dolomite.


Red beds of feldspathic sandstone, siltstone, and shale with a minor amount of dolomite comprise the Whitehorse Formation. Crossbedding is common and the formation is characterized by small calcite-cemented "sand balls." It crops out in Clark, Comanche, Barber, and southeastern Kiowa counties. The thickness is about 270 feet.

Marlow Sandstone Member

The Marlow Sandstone Member consists of about 100 feet of massive, fine-grained, locally argillaceous or silty, crossbedded red sandstone. "Sand balls" are locally prominent.

Relay Creek(?) Dolomite Member

This member consists of two beds of dolomite separated by about 21 feet of red and white fine-grained sandstone. The dolomite beds are found only in southern Comanche County. They range in thickness from 0.3 to about 1 foot, and in places one or both may be absent. Locally anhydrite or gypsum occupies this interval. The sandstone is crossbedded at some localities. The member is about 22 feet thick.

Overlying the Relay Creek(?) Member is a very fine-grained sandstone and shaly siltstone "member" that is mostly even-bedded but locally is crossbedded in the upper part. It contains "sand balls" and "sand crystals." The color is brick-red and maroon, and the thickness is about 100 feet.

Kiger Shale Member

The Kiger Shale Member (O'Connor, 1963) comprises beds of silty shale, siltstone, and a minor amount of very fine-grained sandstone, mostly brick-red or maroon. Locally it contains a bed of dolomite in the basal part and a bed of gray-green sandy shale or argillaceous sandstone in the upper part. The thickness is about 38 feet.


This formation is a light-gray to pink, dense, fine-grained dolomite cropping out in Clark County and locally in southern Comanche County. At some localities the formation contains chert nodules and disseminated chert. The thickness is about 2 to 3 feet.


Beds of red silty shale, siltstone, dolomitic siltstone, and very fine-grained feldspathic sandstone, the "Taloga" of earlier reports, belong to the Big Basin Formation (O'Connor, 1963). It crops out in western Clark and eastern Meade counties. These strata are seemingly equivalent, all or in part, to the Quartermaster Formation in Oklahoma. The maximum exposed thickness is about 45 feet.

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