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Kansas Mineral Resources for Wartime Industries

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by Raymond C. Moore

The following report on "Kansas Mineral Resources for Wartime Industries" obviously has a special purpose, as indicated by its title. Kansas possesses a wealth of necessary materials for building the strength of our nation in time of war, when defense of the American way of life becomes the paramount duty and privilege of all Americans. It is very desirable to take stock of every substance at our command and every aspect of utilizing each one of them that pertains to preserving our lives and liberties. The safety of one's household from despoliation, the sanctity of one's family from violation and the freedom to worship God according to one's choice, may seem unrelated to such things as the existence of Kansas coal beds or the quantity and properties of Kansas natural gas, but there is a connection. The coal may be translated into power for industry that manufactures airplanes, guns and war vessels, into explosives of many sorts that are needed for defense and offense and into rubber, chemicals and innumerable other varied requisites of war. These are the armor and the weapons that must be used to protect household, family and freedom to worship. Natural gas and many other mineral resources, and products of the soil, likewise are very importantly related to the needs of defense. All this is evident, though many persons fail to take notice of it.

The importance of mineral resources to industry is basic. Industrial activity builds cities, states and nations, contributing to higher standards of living, producing new wealth, and adding to general prosperity. Accordingly, the availability of the raw materials needed to establish industry is a vital consideration of those who would operate industry actively or expand it. Especially as regards nations, availability of raw materials means control of their development and distribution. Germany needs and covets Russian oil and manganese, Dutch coal, and French iron ore. Japan needs and covets East Indian oil, rubber and copra, Malayan tin, and great Chinese coal fields. Aggression that has primary origin in demand for minerals with which to feed the industrial ambitions of certain nations is a major underlying cause of the present World War. No other essential reason for Italy's invasion of Abyssinia exists. These observations serve to emphasize the relation of mineral resources to industrial growth and lead to statement of a second objective of the report on Kansas mineral resources that is here offered.

The State of Kansas is endowed by nature to become one of the industrially important parts of the United States. It is already a leader among agricultural states, but beneath the soil there is a variety and a very great quantity of mineral substances that are needed by industry. Kansas now ranks in the top one-sixth of the states as grouped on the basis of annual mineral production. The value of Kansas' mineral production, which in recent years has ranged from 100 to 165 million dollars, considerably exceeds that of a number of the nations now conquered by the Nazis, and the yield from Kansas mineral deposits can be much increased. This means that our state should move steadily forward in building larger and more numerous industries. The importance of the Kansas region in mineral resources, combined with advantages of its central inland geographic location and facilities for transportation, has already led to establishment of several great war industry plants in this area. Modification of these for peace-time pursuits will be made very readily and naturally in the case of some of these plants but less easily in the case of others. At all events, the present developments are in line with a very sound program of industrial growth that should lead to a well balanced economy of agriculture and industry of various sorts based on mineral and agricultural resources. This report serves to advance such a post-war future development by summarizing information on all known mineral resources of the state, both actual and potential. Not previously described in reports of the State Geological Survey are possible commercial production in Kansas of magnesium, aluminum, iron, bentonite, and high-grade light-firing and refractory clays. New data on other mineral deposits, long known to occur in Kansas, are also supplied.

Attention should be called to the large map in five colors, showing Mineral Resources of Kansas, that is published concurrently with this report. The map supplements and illustrates in excellent manner the following descriptions of mineral deposits of the state.


Kansas possesses a large variety of mineral resources which, together with her great agricultural resources, may be utilized for the production of war materials. Only seven states exceed Kansas in the value of their total annual mineral output. The existence in Kansas of vast resources of oil, gas, coal, salt, building materials, and volcanic ash are fairly well known throughout the state and the midwest, but the existence in the state of many other important or potentially important mineral resources is only partly realized and in some cases almost completely unknown.

The present report has been prepared in response to a large number of inquiries directed to the Survey during the past several months regarding the mineral resources available in Kansas for war industries. In part, the report is an expansion of a report prepared a few months ago at the request of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the present report is to give a summary of the resources of Kansas so that future planning for industries, particularly those new industries in Kansas that will produce war materials, may have the advantage of a coordinate picture of the mineral resources of the state.

During the past decade numerous geological reports dealing with various mineral resources of Kansas have been published by the State Geological Survey. These bulletins are available to all and will be sent on request. A list of publications is available and may be had by addressing the Director of the Geological Survey, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

The Geological Survey is actively investigating the existence, distribution, quantity, quality, and uses of the mineral resources of Kansas. These investigations include not only study of known rocks and mineral deposits but also the discovery and study of new ones. Some of the undeveloped resources of Kansas described in recent reports and in the present report include: aluminum from Kansas clays, iron, magnesium, bentonite, chalk, light-firing clay in north-central Kansas, diatomaceous marl, and rock wool raw materials. The location and distribution of the various mineral resources of Kansas, in addition to locations of pipe lines, refineries, brick plants, and so forth, are shown on a large colored map recently published by the Geological Survey. A large volume of unpublished data pertaining to the resources discussed in this report in contained in the files of the Geological Survey. Interested persons seeking detailed information not here included are urged to contact the Director.

"Kansas Mineral Resources for Wartime Industries" has been compiled under the supervision of R. C. Moore and John C. Frye by J. M. Jewett and W. H. Schoewe, aided by the following staff members of the State Geological Survey: R. M. Dreyer, R. P. Keroher, E. D. Kinney, Jewell Kirby, Norman Plummer and John Romary. The maps accompanying the report were drafted by G. W. Reimer. The manuscript was edited by T. G. Payne.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Nov. 2, 2017; originally published May 9, 1942.
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