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Geology of Kansas (1920)

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Permian System

General Description


Adjacent to the Pennsylvanian outcrops on the west, and occupying an important zone in a north-south direction across central Kansas, is a group of rocks which are referred to the highest division of the Paleozoic era, the Permian period. This zone, narrow at the north where it is encroached from the west by the much younger beds of the Cretaceous, reaches its maximum width near the south border of the state, the Permian outcrop here extending from central Cowley County on the east to the west line of Clark County on the west. Thus the Permian of Kansas comprises a roughly triangular area with its apex at the north and its base on the south state line (see geologic map, plate I). In Oklahoma the Permian covers most of the western part of the state.

A knowledge of the Permian rocks is of vital importance to the oil producer because of their relation to the very valuable, recently discovered pools in Butler and Marion counties, and other districts within the area of the Permian outcrop. While large quantities of oil and gas have not thus far been discovered in the Permian itself in Kansas—although there is no inherent reason which precludes such discovery—rocks of the Permian must be drilled in any search for these fuels in central Kansas, and Permian rocks will probably be encountered in most tests of sufficient depth throughout the western part of the state.


It is difficult to make any definite or general statement with regard to the thickness of the Permian in Kansas. Of course, the cover of Permian rocks is thinnest near the eastern border of the Permian outcrop, where only the lowest divisions are present, and thickest near the Cretaceous boundary. It appears also that the Permian is very thin in the north and reaches a maximum thickness in Kansas toward the south, in Sumner and Harper counties. A well drilled at Anthony, in Harper County, encountered 1,100 feet of red beds, salt and gypsum, and is the greatest single measurement of these rocks which has been reported. Observation of surface outcrops indicates an average total thickness of 1,100 feet for the lower non-red Permian and about 1,200 feet for the upper red-beds Permian.

Lithologic Character

The Permian of Kansas includes two very distinct lithologic and stratigraphic divisions, a lower portion consisting of marine shales, limestones and sandstones, lithologically almost exactly like the underlying Pennsylvanian, and an upper portion essentially composed of nonmarine red shales and sandstone. There are thick salt beds and some gypsum deposits in the upper part of the lower division (fig. 9), and extensive gypsum beds in the upper division. The marine limestones and shales are chiefly developed in the northern and eastern part of the Permian outcrop, while the "red beds" are restricted to the southwestern part of the Permian area in the state. A short distance south of Kansas the non-red Permian limestones and shales disappear, being replaced by beds of red shale and sandstone. It appears that the red Permian rocks are not entirely different in age from the non-red beds, though for the most part they are distinctly younger. Indeed, there are red beds of Pennsylvanian age in central Oklahoma which show the coming of the conditions of red-bed sedimentation in this region even before Permian time (Snider, 1913, p. 113).

Figure 9—Generalized section of the Big Blue group of the Permian in Kansas.

Generalized section of the Shawnee and Wabaunsee formations of the Missouri group of the Pennsylvanian in Kansas.

The Permian limestones are essentially like those of the Pennsylvanian, with the exception that they are in general much more filled with chert. The chert is so abundant in some divisions that they might well be called chert members rather than limestone members. The limestones are in most cases fine grained and noncrystalline. They are, like the limestone members of the Pennsylvanian, rather thin, but strikingly persistent. In color they range from light gray, or yellow to deep brown, and some of them are remarkably fossiliferous. The shale beds are quantitatively much the most important part of the lower Permian, comprising practically the whole of the formations where the limestones thin out. They are argillaceous rather than sandy, but grade locally into soft shaly sandstones. They vary in color from light gray, green or yellow to brown, and in a few cases reddish purple. The shales are not very fossiliferous, as a rule; but some of the shale members are literally crowded with excellently preserved fossil shells. Sandstones are relatively unimportant and nonpersistent. The salt beds are remarkably thick and pure in the upper part of the lower Permian, measuring about 400 feet in total thickness between Hutchinson and Kingman. The salt is in part interbedded with shale, but with little associated gypsum or limestone. The salt beds do not outcrop in any part of the state, but have been recognized throughout a considerable area in deep drilling. Gypsum beds are of local occurrence and relatively slight thickness in the lower Permian. They are reported from horizons underlying the salt beds in north central Kansas.

The "red beds" division of the Permian, as indicated by the name generally applied, is chiefly characterized by the red color of the formations, both shale and sandstone. Limestone is conspicuously lacking. The shales are slaty or sandy and grade laterally in many places into sandstone. The sandstones, which are most commonly cross-bedded, are irregular in thickness and nonpersistent. Gypsum beds appear to be the only fairly reliable stratigraphic makers, and where chiefly developed—in southern Kansas and Oklahoma—they have been used in the subdivision and mapping of the group. The red-beds gypsum of Kansas is best exposed in Clark, Comanche, and Barber counties, A thin member of dolomite is reported in the southwest part of the Permian outcrop in Kansas.

Faunal character

The fauna of the lower Permian is a derivative of that of the uppermost Pennsylvanian of the region, and is only distinguished from it by the presence of certain younger types which belong to the new period. So gradual is the faunal transition from one system to the other in Kansas, and so unmarked by evidence of physical change, that the line of division has long been unsettled. Final classification must rest on extensive, careful and detailed paleontologic studies. Few fossils have been found in the red beds of Kansas, but numerous discoveries in the similar beds of Oklahoma and Texas indicate without question the Permian age of this division. The fauna consists chiefly of vertebrates. Recently a good specimen of the well-known Permian reptile Dimetrodon has been found near Winfield, Cowley County, in the Winfield limestone (R. B. Dunlevy, personal communication).

Plate VI—Typical fossils of the Permian in Kansas. Brachiopods: Pustula nebrascensis, one of the most abundant and widespread productids, the, surface of which is covered with the bases of innumerable spines, dorsal view 1, ventral view 2, side view 3; Chonetes granulifer, interior of dorsal valve 4 (see pl. V for exterior); Composita subtilita with two attached shells of Crania modesta, one of the most ubiquitous brachiopods of the Pennsylvanian 10; Meekella striatocostata, side view 11 (see pl. V). Pelecypods: Pleurophorus oblongus, 5; Aviculopecten occidentalis, 6 Bakewellia parva, 7; Myalina kansasensis, 8; Myalina permiana, 9; Pseudomonotis hawni, 12; Myalina recurvirostris, 13. [Also available as a larger Adobe Acrobat version, 2.9 MB.]

Typical fossils of the Permian in Kansas.


The lower nonred division of the Permian is called the Big Blue group (Cragin, 1896a, p. 3, 5) from typical development along the river of that name between Pottawatomie and Riley counties, Kansas. The red beds division is included in the Cimarron group (Cragin, 1896a, p. 3, 18-48), the name being taken from Cimarron river, which crosses the outcrop of the beds in southwestern Kansas and northwestern Oklahoma. The following table indicates the subdivisions of the Permian in Kansas as now defined.

Subdivision of the Permian System in Kansas
Group Formation Member
Cimarron Greer Big Basin sandstone shale
Woodward Day Creek dolomite
White Horse sandstone
Dog Creek shale
Cave Creek Shimer gypsum
Jenkins shale
Medicine Lodge gypsum
Enid Flowerpot shale
Cedar Hills sandstone
Salt Plain shale
Harper sandstone
Big Blue Wellington Undifferentiated
Marion Pearl shale
Herington limestone
Enterprise shale
Luta limestone
Chase Winfield limestone
Doyle shale
Fort Riley limestone
Florence flint
Matfield shale
Wreford limestone
Council Grove Garrison shale and limestone
Cottonwood limestone

Big Blue Group

The general stratigraphic relations and lithologic character of the Big Blue group of the Permian has been sufficiently given in the, foregoing general description. A more detailed account of the subdivisions of the group, under appropriate headings, follows. The formations recognized in Kansas are four in number, named in order from below: Council Grove, Chase, Marion and Wellington

Council Grove Formation

Named from Council Grove, Morris County, Kansas (Prosser, 1902, p. 718).

At the base of the Permian, as here defined, and resting conformably on the subjacent Pennsylvanian, is the Council Grove formation; consisting of a very prominent, resistant and easily recognized limestone member and a succeeding member of interbedded shale and limestone. The lower is termed the Cottonwood limestone member and the upper the Garrison shale and limestone member. The formation is most typically developed in the central portion of the state, but has been traced without change a considerable distance to the north and south. Its thickness is about 150 feet. Its outcrop, which is very narrow on account of the very resistant character of the succeeding Wreford cherty limestone, forms a band bordering the east line of the Permian, and coincides approximately with the east face of the so-called Flint Hills. The Council Grove formation marks the transition in lithologic and faunal characters from the Pennsylvanian to the Permian.

Cottonwood limestone member

Named from Cottonwood river, Chase County, Kansas (Prosser, 1902, p. 711, 712).

The Cottonwood limestone is one of the most persistent and easily recognized horizons in Kansas, its outcrop extending without break from Nebraska into Oklahoma. The limestone is light gray or buff in color, massively bedded, and has an average thickness of about six feet. The upper part Of the member is almost entirely made up of the small wheat- or rice-shaped protozoans, Fusulina, but there are few other animal remains, The line of outcrop of the Cottonwood is generally marked by a row of massive rectangular blocks of light gray or bleached, bone-colored limestone. Because of its resistance to weathering, it forms a prominent escarpment. The persistence of the lithologic character of the Cottonwood limestone is noteworthy.

Plate VII—Permian limestone and shale in a bluff of Republican river, one quarter mile north of Wakefield, Clay County.

Permian limestone and shale in a bluff of Republican river, one quarter mile north of Wakefield, Clay County.

Garrison limestone and shale member

Named from Garrison, Pottawatomie County, Kansas (Prosser, 1902, p. 712).

Overlying the Cottonwood are yellowish shales with thin intercalated limestone beds, which are included in the Garrison shale and limestone member. This division constitutes by far the greatest portion of the Council Grove formation, having a thickness of 135 to 150 feet. As recognized in the type area of the member, there are two main divisions in the Garrison—a lower shale, called the Florena shale bed, which is characterized by the abundance and fine preservation of its fossils, mostly belonging to a single brachiopod species, Chonetes granulifer; and an, upper division, called the Neosho bed, consisting of green, chocolate, or yellow shales alternating with thin beds of grayish limestone. Near the base of the Neosho bed in the Big Blue valley a bed of gypsum is found. The shales of the Garrison member weather readily and form the slope of the escarpment made by the overlying Wreford limestone.

Chase Formation

Named from Chase County, Kansas (Prosser, 1902, p. 713, 714).

The Chase formation consists of a well-defined lithologic and faunal division of the Permian in Kansas. Lithologically, the abundance of limestone and hard, resistant chert is most noteworthy, the outcrop of this formation forming the most prominent topographic feature of central Kansas, the Flint Hills, which extend northward from Oklahoma almost to Nebraska. The eastern boundary ofthe formation approaches closely that of the Cottonwood limestone at the base of the Permian, and the outcrop as a whole is rather narrow on account of the resistant character of the upper members. In the north, where covered by glacial drift, the outcrop is somewhat obscured, but to the south the various members are clearly defined. The Chase formation has a thickness of about 230 to 270 feet.

Wreford limestone member

[Named from Wreford, Geary County. Kansas (Hay, 1893).]

The lowest subdivision of the Chase formation is the Wreford limestone consisting of 35 to 50 feet of massive limestone and chert, or flint. As observed in most places, it is composed of three main beds, a cherty limestone below and above separated by a heavy limestone nearly free from chert. Locally the middle non-cherty bed is replaced by a layer of shale. The rock is gray to buff in color, massive and very resistant to weathering agencies. It forms the first prominent escarpment above the Cottonwood limestone. Towards the south the Wreford is imperfectly solidified and weathers to a reddish brown, very porous rock.

Plate VIII—Northern end of Gypsum hills, near Medicine Lodge, Barber County, showing typical badlands of the Permian red beds.

Northern end of Gypsum hills, near Medicine Lodge, Barber County, showing typical badlands of the Permian red beds.

Matfield shale member

[Named from Matfield, Chase County, Kansas (Prosser and Beede, 1902, p. 718).]

Overlying the Wreford limestone is the Matfield shale member, which includes 60 to 70 feet of variously colored shale and thin interbedded shaly and occasionally cherty limestones. This shale member forms the slope between the Wreford and the succeeding Florence flint, and does not have a wide outcrop at the surface.

Florence flint member

[Named from Florence, Marion County, Kansas (Prosser, 1895, p. 773).]

This subdivision of the Chase formation consists of about 20 feet of very flinty limestone, a number of layers being composed wholly of flint. Near the center of the member is a band of shaly, white, cellular limestone. Good exposures of the Florence flint occur at Oketo, Grant, Valencia and Florence. The member is very resistant to erosion and forms a distinct escarpment with a welldefined dip slope, which extends for some distance to the west. Its outcrop closely parallels that of the Wreford limestone.

Fort Riley limestone member

[Named from Fort Riley, Geary County, Kansas (Swallow, 1866, p. 14).]

Massive buff limestone with thin interbedded shaly strata in the upper part is included in the Fort Riley limestone, measuring 40 to 45 feet in thickness. Near the center of the member are one or two very massive layers which form a conspicuous bench at the outcrop, which is thus readily traceable for miles. The basal portion of the Fort Riley is either shaly or marly and is represented at Oketo, Marysville and Junction City by 6 to 9 feet of fossiliferous, calcareous shale.

Doyle sha!e member

[Named from Doyle creek, Marion County, Kansas (Prosser and Beede, 1902, p. 718).]

Overlying the Florence and the Fort Riley members is about 60 feet of variously colored shale, called the Doyle shale member. Grayish limestone beds appear in the shale, but the member weathers rapidly and the outcrop appears as gently undulating prairie, in sharp contrast to the rough topography produced by the massive limestone and flint beds below. The outcrop of the Doyle shale is also distinctly wider than those of the immediately subjacent divisions. Locally there are prominent and fairly persistent limestone beds in the Doyle shale. One such bed, well exposed in the west part of the El Dorado field near Towanda, which was of great assistance in mapping the structure of the field, has been designated as the Towanda bed.

Winfield limestone member

[Named from Winfield, Cowley County, Kansas (Prosser, 1897a, p. 64).]

At the top of the Chase formation is the highest chert horizon in the Kansas Permian, the Winfield limestone, which consists of two main cherty limestones separated by thin yellowish shale. North of Kansas river, the Winfield limestone is not conspicuous and is apparently much thinner than in the southern portion of the state, where it forms a very conspicuous escarpment, well shown in the vicinity of its type locality at Winfield in Cowley County. The outcrop of the Winfield covers a much wider zone to the south, also, than to the north. The chert of the Winfield is not so uniform in character or so widely distributed as that of the Wreford or Florence members, and in some localities the horizon is represented simply by a prominent gray limestone. It may be traced across country either by the escarpment which it forms or from the zone of loose reddish-brown concretions which in places stretch across the prairie. The thickness of the Winfield limestone is about 20 to 25 feet.

Marion formation

[Named from Marion County, Kansas (Prosser, 1895, p. 786).]

The Marion formation comprises the uppermost fossiliferous portion of the marine Permian of Kansas. It is a well-marked stratigraphic unit, clearly defined from the beds above and below it. It lacks the very cherty character of the Chase formation, from which it is also clearly distinguished by its fauna, and is separated from the overlying Wellington formation by its lack of salt beds, its light color and its content of limestone, which is practically absent in the Wellington. Marine invertebrate fossils are common in the Marion formation, but are very rare or lacking altogether in the Wellington. Buff, thin-bedded limestone and thick shale beds compose the Marion formation, well-developed beds of gypsum being present also in certain localities. A peculiar, somewhat variable conglomeratic limestone occurs at its top. The outcrop of the Marion is characterized by broad, rather gentle slopes, in decided contrast to that of the Chase formation in the Flint hills. farther east. The formation has a total thickness of about 150 feet. The Marion has been divided into five stratigraphic subdivisions, a portion of which have been mapped (Beede, 1905, p. 248-256).

Luta limestone member

[Named from Luta brook, which enters Antelope creek just north of Marion, Marion County, Kansas (Beede, 1905, p. 251).]

Over a very considerable portion of central Kansas the Luta limestone forms the basal member of the Marion formation. It is a more or less cellular, soft, gray limestone, 30 feet in thickness, and contains siliceous geodes and layers of more or less abundant chert. The Luta limestone is well exposed in and about the town of Marion and is seen at Herington, from which point it may be traced north to Smoky Hill river. Southward it appears to become much thinner, being barely recognizable at Arkansas City and apparently disappearing in the section east of Newkirk, Okla. (Beede, 1905, p. 251). The member is thickest at Marion.

Enterprise shale member

[Named from Enterprise, Dickinson County, Kansas (Beede, 1905, p. 253).]

Overlying the Luta limestone is the Enterprise shale, typically exposed in the vicinity of the town of Enterprise, Dickinson County, on Smoky Hill river; The member consists of variegated shale, green, yellow and maroon in color, and has an average thickness in the central portion of the state of 35 feet. It has been recognized as far south as Kay county, Oklahoma (Beede, 1905, p. 253). At Arkansas City the Enterprise shale is 44 feet thick (Sellards and Beede, 1905, p. 108).

Herington limestone member

[Named from Herington, Dickinson County, Kansas (Sellards and Beede, 1905, p. 108).]

Succeeding the Enterprise shale is a buff, massive. very fossiliferous limestone, which from typical outcrops in the vicinity of Herington, north of Marion, has been called the Herington limestone. The member is quite persistent and has been mapped from Smoky Hill river to a point south of Marion. It outcrops in the vicinity of Arkansas City, where it is about 15 feet thick. The average thickness of the formation is 12 to 15 feet.

Pearl shale member

[Named from Pearl, Dickinson County, Kansas (Sellards and Beede, 1905, p. 225).]

A succession of green, blue and reddish shale, termed the Pearl shale member, overlies the Herington limestone. On account of lack of resistance of the overlying beds, outcrops of the Pearl shale are very uncommon. The thickness of the member is estimated to be 70 feet. In the upper portion of the Pearl shale there are more or less persistent beds of limestone. These are the uppermost calcareous deposits of importance in the Permian of Kansas and mark the line of division between the Marion and the succeeding Wellington formation. [Note: It appears that the so-called Abilene conglomerate, which has previously been referred to the uppermost part of the Marion formation, is in reality a Tertiary deposit. It contains fragments of rock which apparently belong to the Dakota sandstone and at no point has it been observed in a stratigraphic position beneath the Wellington shale.]

Wellington Formation

[Named from Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 17).]

The upper division of the Big Blue group is "a thick body of blue-gray slate-colored shales" and important salt beds, to which the name Wellington formation is given on account of its typical development in the vicinity of the county seat of Sumner County (fig. 10). By Haworth (1899) and Kirk (1899) the name Wellington shale was restricted to the upper part of the formations as here defined, and the lower strata were designated "salt beds." Inasmuch as the salt deposits are very closely associated with the shales, it is regarded most desirable to group all the beds above the Marion and beneath the "red beds" as a unit which may be called the Wellington formation. The salt strata do not appear at the surface, and therefore cannot be mapped, but may be considered as a subdivision of the Wellington.

Figure 10—Section across Cottonwood valley southwest of Elmdale, Kan., showing rock terraces or steps formed by resident limestone beds, and gentle slopes composed of shales. Cm, Matfield shale; Cwf, Wreford limestone; Cg, Garrison shale; Cc, Cottonwood limestone; Ce, Eskridge shale; Cn, Neva limestone; Ced, Elmdale shale. (U. S. Geol. Survey.)

Section across Cottonwood valley southwest of Elmdale, Kan., showing rock terraces or steps formed by resident limestone beds, and gentle slopes composed of shales.

The outcrop of the Wellington formation occupies almost the whole western half of the Permian area in central Kansas where the "red beds" Permian does not appear; but in the southwest the Wellington is overlain by the Cimarron group, west of Kingman and Harper counties. The formation has not been mapped in the field and the precise limits of its outcrops cannot be given, but it is known to be restricted essentially to the country south of Abilene—the outcrop extending only a short distance north of Smoky Hill river—and west of a line passing between Marion and Newton and east of Wichita and Wellington. It is relatively a thick formation, amounting in most places to more than 500 feet. The thickness of the Wellington, as it appears, is much less in the north than in the south, a condition which is probably due both to an original difference in thickness and to the covering of the uppermost beds of the formation in the north by the eastward overlap of the Cretaceous strata. As indicated by well records (Kirk, 1899), the thickness of the Wellington at Anthony is 799 feet, at Kingman 630 feet, at Hutchinson 578 feet, and at Kanopolis 485 feet. Prosser (1897a, p. 67) estimates the thickness of the part of the Wellington shale overlying the salt member in Saline County at about 200 feet. As already indicated, the Wellington is chiefly a shale formation with thick salt beds in its lower portion. Limestone, though found in occasional thin layers, is not persistent or abundant and in general is conspicuously lacking. The shale is prevailingly blue, gray and yellow in color, with greenish and reddish bands of various thicknesses. The gray or blue tone of the Wellington is in strong contrast to the prevailing red color of the succeeding Cimarron beds. The shales are as a whole decidedly argillaceous in character.

Cimarron Group

[Cragin, 1896a, p. 3]

The upper or "red-beds" division of the Permian in Kansas, termed the Cimarron group, includes the surface rocks of a considerable area in southwestern Kansas. However, the outcrop of the group in Kansas represents only the northern end of a wide belt of red beds, which covers almost the entire western half of Oklahoma and reaches nearly to Pecos river in southwestern Texas.

So far as determined, the Cimarron rests conformably on the subjacent Wellington formation, the line of contact crossing the western part of Sumner and Sedgwick counties and the eastern part of Reno and Kingman counties to Arkansas river. The group has not been recognized definitely north of Reno County. On the west the Cimarron disappears beneath younger formations belonging to the Comanchean, Cretaceous or Tertiary, which unconformably overlie it. This western boundary traverses Kingman, Barber, Comanche, Clark and Meade counties. Since red beds of probably Upper Permian age outcrop east of the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico and Colorado, it is possible that the Cimarron group of Kansas is continuous beneath the overlying beds with these red strata to the west.

The total thickness of the Cimarron group cannot be ascertained accurately by observation of the outcrops because of the irregularity of the stratification and lack of persistent traceable horizons. The cross-bedded and lenticular character of many of the beds makes it very difficult also to determine the dip. In general the upper portion of the group is more regular than the lower, and the individual thicknesses of the various subdivisions in this part may be approximated rather closely. However, Cragin (1896a, p. 23) studied carefully the various units of the red beds in southwestern Kansas, and estimated the total thickness of the group at 1,280 to 1,330 feet. Well records at Anthony, in Harper County, and Pratt, in Pratt County, appear to accord with Cragin's estimate (Prosser, 1897a, p. 88). Investigations by Prosser (1897a, p. 88, 89) indicate that the total thickness of the Cimarron group in Kansas is more than 1,200 feet. In Oklahoma the Cimarron division is probably much thicker, as indicated by the work of Gould (1905, p. 34-88) and Snider (1913, p. 106, 107). The total thickness of the Permian red beds described by Gould is 2,250 feet, and Snider estimates the maximum in central Oklahoma as at least 2,750 feet.

Figure 11—Generalized section of the Cimarron group of the Permian in Kansas.

Generalized section of the Cimarron group of the Permian in Kansas.

The Cimarron group is composed chiefly of red sandstones, interbedded at certain horizons with fine clastic sediments. The sandstone ranges in color from vermillion to maroon, and deep red-brown color is often observed in many exposures. The red shales are fine-grained, plastic and rather slightly consolidated; though in some places they contain large quantities of soluble salts. The color of the shales is lighter and in general more brilliant than that of the sandstones.

Most of the sandstone beds of the Cimarron are composed of fine, well-rounded grains and are very commonly crossbedded, but locally they are coarse-grained or even conglomeratic. The lenticular character of the sandstone beds is pronounced and the irregularity of the bedding is such that it is almost impossible to trace a given horizon more than a short distance.

Beds of gypsum cover considerable areas in the red-beds country, but though they reach a thickness of as much as 60 feet at some places in Oklahoma (Snider, 1913, p. 105), gypsum is a relatively unimportant part of the red beds as a whole. Beds of white or greenish sandstone and shale are associated commonly with the beds of gypsum. Dolomite members in the Cimarron of Kansas are thin and unimportant, but in Oklahoma they are more prominent. The dolomite is reported (Cragin, 1897, p. 358) to have a thickness of more than 100 feet in central Oklahoma.

Owing to the absence of well-defined and persistent stratigraphic horizons in the red beds of the Permian, it is difficult to obtain a satisfactory classification of the group. The subdivisions recognized in this report are based on the studies of Cragin and Gould in southern Kansas, and are those which it is thought will be most easily recognized and most useful in exploration for oil and gas in the region.

Enid Formation

[Named from Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma (Gould, 1905, p. 39).]

The lower portion of the Cimarron group from the Wellington shale to the lowest heavy gypsum bed is included in the Enid formation. Thus defined, the formation has a much greater thickness than any other division of the red beds in Kansas and covers a much larger area. It comprises essentially the nongypsiferous portion of the group.

The outcrop of the Enid formation in Kansas covers all or portions of Sumner, Kingman, Reno, Harper, Barber and Comanche counties, but the line of division separating it from the succeeding formations has not been mapped in detail. It covers a very large area in northwestern, and western Oklahoma. The formation is largely composed of red shales, but lenticular beds of soft, red sandstones occur, especially in the lower part. The thickness of the Enid formation in Kansas is about 650 feet (Cragin, 1896a, p. 20), but measurements in Oklahoma by Gould (1905, p. 40) indicate a thickness of 1,500 feet in that state. The following members are distinguished.

Harper sandstone member

[Named from Harper, Harper County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 18).]

The basal part of the Enid formation, comprising almost its entire lower half, is termed the Harper sandstone member on account of exposures about Harper, Harper County, Kansas. The member is by no means wholly composed of sandstone, being largely made up of argillaceous and arenaceous shale. Both sandstone and shale are prevailingly mottled dun red or reddish brown. The sandstone beds, although soft, are sufficiently massive and firm to serve as building stone and have been quarried at Harper, Anthony and many towns in the region. In some portions of its outcrops the beds of the Harper member are reported to be distinctly saliferous like the succeeding shale (Cragin, 1897, p. 352).

Salt Plain shale member

[Named from the Salt Plain of Cimarron river, Woodward County, Oklahoma (Cragin, 1896a, p. 20, 23).]

Red shale, largely impregnated with salt, overlies the Harper sandstone and has been called the Salt Plain shale member. According to Cragin (1896a, p. 22), the stratigraphic horizon of the shale and its outcrops at the surface are recognized by its large content of salt, which is sufficiently important to deserve the name "upper salt measures," the salt deposits of the Wellington shale being the "lower salt measures." The Salt Plain member outcrops on the east side of the Cedar Hills, Harper County, on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas river, south of Aetna, and at various points in northern Oklahoma. Beds of rock salt encountered at a depth of about 700 feet in borings at Pratt probably belong to the Salt Plain of the Enid formation. The thickness of the member is estimated by Cragin (1896a, p. 211) as 1,555 feet, but it is probable that the division cannot be differentiated clearly at all points from adjoining parts of Enid.

Cedar Hills sandstone member

[Named from Cedar Hills, Harper County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 24).]

Above the saliferous shales of the Salt Plain member is a zone of hard, bright-red, fine-grained sandstone, which has been given the name Cedar Hills sandstone by Cragin. The member is rather massively bedded, and, according to Cragin, has locally a marked concretionary structure. Excellent exposures occur northwest of Hazelton, Kan., in the upper part of the Cedar hills, in the Gypsum hills southwest of Medicine Lodge and southeast of Aetna. The thickness of the member is about 50 to 60 feet.

Flowerpot shale member

[Named from Flowerpot Mound, between East and West Cedar creeks, Barber County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 24-27).]

At the summit of the Enid formation occur gypsiferous clay beds, named by Cragin the Flowerpot shales, from exposures at the mound of that name in the Gypsum hills southwest of Medicine Lodge. The clay shales show variegated tints ranging from light gray to dark brown, but red is very much in predominance. Thin beds and obliquely intersecting veins of gypsum occur throughout the member. The clays yield very readily to weathering agencies, forming many peculiar and striking erosion features. The Flowerpot shale outcrops in the escarpment of the Gypsum hills and northwestward in the bluffs of Medicine Lodge river and its tributaries to a point a few miles south of Belvidere. It is well exposed along the Salt Fork, at Cimarron and its tributaries; and extends south into Oklahoma. The thickness of the shale is about 150 feet (Cragin, 1896a, p. 27).

Cave Creek Formation

[Named from Cave creek, Comanche County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 27).]

The Cave Creek formation is the chief gypsum-bearing division of the Permian red beds in Kansas. As defined by Cragin (1896a, p. 27, 28; 1897, p. 356, 358), it consists typically of red shale with gypsum beds and some thin ledges of dolomite. On account of the comparative resistance of the gypsum beds to weathering agencies, the formation forms a pronounced escarpment throughout almost the entire extent of its outcrop, and is therefore easily differentiated from associated beds of the Cimarron group. In Kansas and northern Oklahoma, the Gypsum hills and Glass mountains mark this outcrop, which varies in width, from one to eight miles. Excellent exposures occur on the south side of the Salt Fork of Arkansas river and Cimarron river near the state line. The outcrop of the gypsum beds trends north and northwest from southeastern Barber County to a point about 30 miles northwest of Medicine Lodge, where the Permian beds disappear beneath the Comanchean and Tertiary deposits. The thickness of the Cave Creek formation ranges from 50 to 100 feet, the average being about 70 feet. Three gypsum members, separated by red shale beds, have been distinguished in Oklahoma, but in Kansas only two gypsums, the Medicine Lodge bed below and the Shimer bed above, are recognized. [Note: The equivalent of the Cave Creek formation in Oklahoma has been called the Blaine formation by Gould (Oklahoma gypsum: Second Bien. Rept., Okla. Dept. Geol. and Nat. Hist., 1902). A thin gypsum bed, the stratigraphic equivalent of the upper Enid formation in the south, but to the north the Blaine is identical with Cragin's Cave Creek formation, (Gould, 190, p. 445). The latter name, having priority, is the one here used.]

Medicine Lodge gypsum member

[Named from exposures on Medicine Lodge river in the vicinity of Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 28, 39).]

The lower massive gypsum bed of the Cave Creek formation in Kansas is the most conspicuous gypsum deposit in the Permian. It is pure white to gray in color, locally with mottlings of dark reddish brown, and is very hard and fine-grained. Because of its resistance to erosion, the gypsum forms the cap rock of hills and high buttes. In many places, however, there are large solution caverns which are comparable in size and complexity to caves in limestone formations. The, Medicine Lodge gypsum extends uninterruptedly from near the head of Medicine Lodge river, in Kansas, to Canadian County, southern Oklahoma, and is therefore one of the most persistent and well-defined stratigraphic horizons in the "red beds." The thickness of the Medicine Lodge gypsum ranges from 2 to 30 feet (Cragin, 1896a, p. 27).

Jenkins shale member

[Named from the former Jenkins post office, near Cave creek, Barber County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 28).]

Red day shale, having a thickness ranging from 4 to 5 feet to more than 50 feet, separates the persistent gypsum members of the Cave Creek formation. It is termed the Jenkins shale member.

Shimer gypsum member

[Named from Shimer township, Barber County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 27).]

The upper gypsum of the Cave Creek formation is essentially the same in physical and chemical characters as the Medicine Lodge member. Its thickness, ranging from 4 to 25, feet, is, however, not so great, but it is almost as widely distributed. A thin dolomite bed is found at the base of the gypsum in many exposures. In general the Shimer gypsum outcrops somewhat back from the brow of the hills.

Woodward Formation

[Named from Woodward County, Oklahoma (Gould, 1902).]

Above the Cave Creek gypsums are found red shale, sandstone and dolomite, which have been called the Woodward formation. The formation contains no gypsum beds, its upper limit being defined by the lowest gypsum bed of the succeeding Greer formation. In Oklahoma the Woodward is characterized by the prominence of dolomites as well as the absence of gypsum beds. The sandstones are fine-grained and, like the shales, brilliant red in color. Where uncovered by protecting layers of harder strata the beds are carved into very irregular and in many cases grotesque forms. The outcrop of the formation in Kansas is found in northwestern Barber County along the upper course of Medicine Lodge river, across central Comanche County, and in southeastern Clark County in the valley of Cimarron river. The general dip of the strata in this region is to the south. The thickness of the Woodward formation is about 200 to 250 feet in Kansas, but in Oklahoma it is in excess of 300 feet (Gould, 1905, p. 52).

Three members are under the present classification of the strata referred to the Woodward, the Dog Creek shale below, the Whitehorse sandstone in the middle portion, and the Day Creek dolomite above. Recent studies, chiefly by Beede (unpublished manuscript and personal communication), of the horizon of the Woodward, indicate that a very important unconformity exists at the base of the Whitehorse sandstone. This member, therefore, should doubtless not be included with the Dog Creek shale beneath, which should probably be considered the upper part of the Cave Creek division. Further study of the Permian "red beds" area in southwestern Kansas, which is planned at this time, will doubtless give additional data on this problem. In the absence of definite information, the beds may be classified at least for the present as they have previously been reported.

Dog Greek shale member

[Named from Dog creek; Barber County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 39).]

The basal portion of the Woodward formation consists of dull-red argillaceous shale with one or two thin, discontinuous ledges of dolomitic limestone. This member, the Dog Creek shale, has an average thickness of about 30 feet (Cragin, 1896a, p. 39) in southern Kansas, but in central Oklahoma there is a notable increase in the proportion and thickness of the dolomite (Cragin, 1897, p. 358) and measurements by Gould (Gould, 1905, p. 54, 55) indicate a total thickness for the member of 175 to 225 feet.

Whitehorse sandstone member

[Named from Whitehorse Springs, Woods County, Oklahoma (Gould, 1905, p. 52).]

The middle division of the Woodward, originally known as the Red Bluff sandstone (Cragin, 1896a, p. 40; the name Red Bluff has previously been used for another formation), comprises the largest portion of the formation. It consists of 175 to 200 feet of very fine-grained, light-red sandstone and sandy shale, irregularly stratified and cross-bedded. The Whttehorse member exhibits the most intense vivid coloration of any division of the series. Locally the sandstone is sufficiently strong for building stone. In general it is readily eroded and forms conspicuous buttes and mesas. On Medicine Lodge river and as far west as Belvidere, the Whitehorse sandstone immediately underlies the Comanchean, but its thickness has been reduced by pre-Comanchean erosion. Outcrops are numerous along Mule creek and on Salt Fork and tributaries, in Barber and Comanche counties, north of Cimarron river, across central Clark County, and reaching to lower Crooked creek in Meade County .

Day Creek dolomite member

[Named from Day creek, Clark County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 44).]

The upper part of the Woodward formation in Kansas and Oklahoma is a conspicuous and persistent ledge of hard, white dolomite. Weathered exposures are gray, and in many cases have a somewhat pinkish or reddish tinge. It is very compact and breaks with a conchoidal fracture like flinty chert. The thickness of the Day Creek dolomite is only 1 to 5 feet, but on account of its peculiar lithologic characters and persistence it is a valuable horizon marker. The outcrop extends westward across north central Clark County to southeastern Meade County.

Greer Formation

[Named from Greer County, Oklahoma (Gould, 1902).]

Above the Day Creek dolomite, in southwest Kansas, are 25 to 40 feet of red shale and sandstone which are with little doubt the stratigraphic equivalent of the Greer formation of Oklahoma, the upper gypsum series of that state. The exposed rocks of the uppermost Permian in Kansas do not contain gypsum. The outcrop of the formation is found in Clark County, exposures specially noted by Cragin (Cragin, 1896a, p. 46-48) occurring near the junction of Buff and Hackberry creeks, Kiger creek and Bear creek. Rocks observed on Crooked creek, in southeastern Meade County, may belong to this horizon (Cragin, 1896a, p. 47). It is to be noted that a considerable thickness of Permian red beds, younger than the probable representative of the Greer formation in Kansas, is exposed in western Oklahoma. [Note: The gypsum-bearing Greer formation and the succeeding Quartermaster formation in Oklahoma, both of Permian age, have a combined thickness of 500 to 600 feet. (Gould, 1905, p. 59).] An unknown thickness of Permian strata has been removed by the erosion which preceded the Comanchean depositions in Kansas. It is possible that a greater amount of the upper red beds are present beneath the covering of younger sediments in the western part of the state than are exposed in the area of Permian outcrop. The Greer formation in Kansas includes two members, as distinguished by Cragin.

Unnamed shale member

[This shale has previously been called the Hackberry shale, a name which is inapplicable on account of its prior use for an Upper Devonian division of Iowa.]

The lower member of the Greer consists of maroon-colored shale, which characteristically weathers into small crumbling fragments. Its exposed thickness is not more than 20 feet.

Big Basin sandstone member

[Named from Big Basin, Clark County, Kansas (Cragin, 1896a, p. 46).]

Above the shale is a rather massive sandstone, red or grayish white in color. It is exposed at a number of localities in Clark County, where on the west it underlies the sandstone of the Comanchean. Its maximum measured thickness is 12 feet.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Sept. 15, 2017; originally published 1920.
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