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Chapter II—Previous Geologic Work

A vast amount of work by many skilled investigators is represented in the body of scientific data on which the essential facts of this report are based. Study of the geology of Kansas was begun more than sixty years ago and has been continued more or less actively to the present time. Among those who have made important contributions to geologic science in the state are some of the most widely known geologists of the country, but there are many more who, with less recognition, have given unstinted time and energy to the task. It is not possible to give due recognition to all who have added to this sum of knowledge, but a few of the most important workers may be mentioned [For a detailed account of early geologic work in Kansas, see Haworth and Bennett, 1908, 42-56.].

The region now included in the state of Kansas was visited by a number of exploring expeditions accompanied by geologists before 1850. These gave a geographic account of the country and described in a general way the rocks observed, but contributed little of great scientific value. The first important work was that of F. B. Meek and F. V. Hayden, who from 1852 to 1870 studied carefully much of Kansas and the surrounding states. The divisions between the different rock systems of Kansas were determined by their investigations, the Carboniferous, Permian, Cretaceous and Tertiary being defined practically as at present, Many of the invertebrate fossils from Kansas were collected and described, but little attempt was made to trace the subdivisions of the various rock systems. The explorations of Meek and Hayden were described in numerous papers, which appear chiefly in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia (Meek, 1865; Meek and Hayden, 1859a; Meek and Hayden, 1859b; Meek and Hayden, 1860; Meek and Hayden, 1864; Hayden, 1859; Hayden, 1867).

In 1864 the first State Geological Survey of Kansas was authorized by the state legislature, and B. F. Mudge was appointed state geologist. Investigation of the geology of the eastern part of the state was begun, and notwithstar.ding very great difficulties much valuable detailed information was obtained. In the First Annual Report on the Geology of Kansas, a pamphlet of fifty-six pages, published in 1866, Mudge announced that the lowest geological formation of the state is the upper part of the Coal Measures (Pennsylvanian), of which he gave a section in Leavenworth county. He accepted the Permian age of the rocks in the central portion of the state, concerning which there had just been a violent controversy, and correctly defined the Cretaceous rocks, the geographic limits of which had not yet been determined [For a concise account of this controversy see Prosser, 1895a, p. 683; Quoted by Haworth and Bennett, 1908, pp. 44-46.]. He noted the occurrence of possible Triassic and probable Jurassic rocks in a belt of territory crossing the Republican and Smoky Hill valleys, a correlation which has proven to be in error. In the years from 1870 to 1875 Mudge explored a large portion of western Kansas, although that region was then dangerously infested with Indians, and for the first time outlined the general distribution of the rock formations in this part of the state (Mudge, 1874; Mudge, 1875; Mudge, 1876). A great number of very valuable fossils were collected and shipped to Marsh, Cope, Lesquereux and others for description. To Mudge belongs the honor of making the first geological map of Kansas (Mudge, 1878). This is fairly correct in its main features, except for the Comanchean, which he failed to recognize. He mapped and described with considerable accuracy the physical structures of the different Cretaceous and Tertiary horizons.

In 1865, under a new act of the legislature, G. C. Swallow, who had organized the first geological survey of Missouri in 1859, was appointed state geologist. Swallow turned his attention to a study of the strata in the eastern and central parts of Kansas, and in 1866 issued a Preliminary Report of the Geological Survey of Kansas, an octavo volume of 122 pages. He reported having found rocks belonging to the Quaternary, Tertiary, Cretaceous, Triassic (?), Permian, Carboniferous and Lower Carboniferous, and described their general distibution and character. The coal-bearing rocks he estimated to have a total thickness of 2,000 feet, and to underlie an area in Kansas of over 17,000 square miles. He announced twenty-two distinct and separate beds of coal in these, ranging in thickness from one to seven feet. With the assistance of Major Frederick Hawn, preliminary descriptions of the geology of Brown, Butler, Chase, Doniphan, Greenwood, Linn, Lyon, Miami, Morris and Osage counties were made (Swallow, 1866, p. 71-94). The work of Swallow was not only good but in general remarkably well done for its day and the conditions under which it was accomplished. Some of the geographic names applied to the rock subdivisions of eastern Kansas are still in use. Unfortunately no provision was made for the continuation of the State Geological Survey after 1866, and Swallow's work ceased.

In the period during which no support was received from the state, geologic work in Kansas was carried on only by private interest and initiative. It was a time of inaction. The State Geological Survey of Missouri was active, however, and completed studies under the direction of G. C. Broadhead, which are of considerable importance to Kansas. Broadhead examined the strata of the coal-bearing rocks in western Missouri and eastern Kansas and defined their subdivisions in detail, numbering the various horizons from 1 to 224. He published many reports and short papers of importance in the geologic study of Kansas (Broadhead, 1873; Broadhead, 1874; Broadhead, 1880; Broadhead, 1881; Broadhead, 1884).

A prominent worker in the period preceding the organization of the present Survey was Robert Hay, a Scotch geologist who came to Junction City, Kan., in 1875. Hay made careful studies of many problems in Kansas geology and contributed many important papers concerning the rocks of the state. [For a list of papers by Robert Hay, consult Darton (1896) and Weeks (1902).]

In 1895, with the warm interest and encouragement of F. H. Snow, then chancellor of the University of Kansas, and under the active direction of Dr. Erasmus Haworth, the present State Geological Survey was organized. Under the name of the University Geological Survey, a great amount of geologic work has been done and scientific contributions of the greatest importance published. Although very inadequately supported by the state, the energy and enthusiasm of Doctor Haworth has brought to the state a series of accurate and scientific reports of very greatest value. The publications include complete descriptions of the stratigraphy of both eastern and western Kansas, two volumes on the paleontology of the state, and reports of economic character devoted to salt, gypsum, lead, zinc, coal, oil, natural gas, and underground water resources in the state. [For a brief description of these reports consult list of publications at the end of this bulletin.] It is largely to this work that the present knowledge of the geology of the state is due.

Among those who have contributed largely to the efficiency of the University Geological Survey have been Charles S. Prosser, George I. Adams, and J. W. Beede. Prosser investigated especially the formations of the Upper Carboniferous, Permian and Comanchean of Kansas, and has written chiefly concerning stratigraphy (Prosser, 1895a; Prosser, 1895b; Prosser, 1897; Prosser, 1897; Prosser, 1902; Prosser and Beede, 1904). The contribution of Adams is to the geology of eastern Kansas, where he has made an elaborate study of the many divisions of the Pennsylvanian rocks (Adams, George I., see publications of Kan. Univ. Geol. Survey, vols, 1, 2, 3; also Adams, G. I., 1898; Adams, G. I., 1899; Adams, G. I., 1901; Adams, G. I., Girty, G. H., and White, David, 1903; Adams, G. I., and Haworth, Erasmus, 1904.). Many of the formation names suggested by him are those now used. The work of Beede has been devoted largely to the invertebrate paleontology of the lower rocks of the state. He has added greatly to knowledge of the Pennsylvanian faunas. A portion of volume 6 of the University Geological Survey, and a chapter of volume 9, written jointly with A. F. Rogers, have been contributed by Beede. [Beede, 1898; Beede, 1898; Beede, 1900; Beede, 1901; Beede and Sellards, 1905; Beede and Sellards, 1909; Beede and Prosser, 1904; The remainder of Beede's numerous writings are chiefly paleontologic in character.] Important work has been done in Kansas by all these writers under the direction of the United States Geological Survey.

In western Kansas the work of S. W. Williston is especially noteworthy. His investigations, beginning with work under Mudge in 1873-1874, have done greatest service in making known the remarkable vertebrate fauna found in the Cretaceous rocks of the region, but important contributions have been made also in defining the areal and stratigraphic characters of the Cretaceous strata. [Williston, 1892; Williston, 1895; For a list of the voluminous writings of Doctor Williston on vertebrate fossils from Kansas, consult the bibliographic indexes of the U. S. Geological Survey.]

The investigations of F. W. Cragin must be given careful consideration in any study of the geology of western Kansas. Much of the detailed field study of the Permian red beds, and in part the examination of the Cretaceous strata, was done by him. His writings, which are chiefly on stratigraphy, are unfortunately somewhat embarrassed by a too detailed classification and naming of the strata which came under his observation. [Cragin, 1895; Cragin, 1895; Cragin, 1896; Cragin, 1896; Cragin, 1897.]

W. N. Logan, in 1896, made extensive observations of the Cretaceous strata in central and western Kansas, and described the formations in the second volume of the University Geological Survey series (Logan, 1897).

John Bennett was connected with the investigations of the University Geological Survey for very many years, and has done a great part of the actual field work in mapping the formations of eastern Kansas. His contributions to the science can be expressed in no adequate manner by mere mention of the character of his work. The results are contained in various publications of the Survey.

The work of the many other investigators who have aided geologic research in Kansas can not be described in this place. Those who have served on the staff of the State Geological Survey are indicated in the reports of that organization and are mentioned for the most part in the description of the publications of the Survey (See list at the end of this bulletin.)

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Aug. 10, 2018; originally published 1917.
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