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Dakota and Kiowa Formations

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The usefulness of the various sandstones in the Dakota formation and Kiowa shale depends upon the type of mineral with which they are cemented, and also upon their availability in deposits large enough to be exploited commercially. Several samples of carbonate-cemented sandstone were subjected to standard physical tests and chemical analyses by the Corps of Engineers, War Department. The results of these tests, which supplement the petrographic descriptions, have been furnished to us and are presented in Tables 3 and 4.

Although the ferruginous sandstone is the most prevalent type, and has been used extensively as a building stone in small structures, it is not high-quality building matrial, and its usefulness at present is restricted to riprap for a few stock ponds and to surfacing material for some county roads. The deposits of quartzite are scattered and most of them are too small to be of economic importance. The carbonate-cemented sandstones have the greatest present and potential usefulness and many of the following data are concerned with this type of rock.

Test Data

The data, furnished to us by the Corps of Engineers, War Department, Kansas City, Missouri, and reported in Tables 3 and 4, describe the results of physical tests on 30 samples from four localities in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties and are restricted to carbonate-cemented sandstones--calcitic and dolomitic. Specific gravity was determined in accordance with A.S.T.M. Standard C127-42. The apparent specific gravity ranges from 2.65 to 2.70. The lowest observed gravities are those of calcite-cemented sandstone from sec. 12, T. 12 S., R. 8 W., and dolomite-cemented sandstone from sec. 7, T. 12 S.1, R. 10 W., Lincoln County, and the highest represents calcite-cemented sandstone from the Kanopolis quarry in Ellsworth County. The bulk specific gravities, which are slightly lower, range from 2.55 to 2.66.

The percentage of absorption is fairly constant, and ranges from 0.3 to 1.3, the highest absorption being shown by a sample of dolomite-cemented sandstone from the Sylvan Grove quarry, Lincoln County. In determining absorption the test procedure was in accord with the A.S.T.M. standard test C-127-90, as modified by the Central Concrete Laboratory of the Corps of Engineers, (War Department, 1942, pp. 49-50). Specimens are prepared by quartering the field sample to a size of approximately 5 kg, rejecting all material passing a particular sieve. After drying to constant weight the sample is immersed in water at 15 to 25 degrees Centrigrade, thoroughly agitated to remove dust or other coatings from the particles, and allowed to absorb water for 24 hours. The material is then removed from the water, surface dried, and weighed. The percent absorption is calculated from the weight before and after immersion.

The freezing and thawing tests were made according to the A.S.T.M. standard test procedure C-137-38T, as modified by the Central Concrete Laboratory (War Department, 1942, pp. 69-73). Seven of the samples tested were subjected to five cycles of alternate freezing and thawing, and six to 25 cycles. The percentage of loss was computed by subtracting from the original weight of the sample the final weight of all particles which had not broken into three or more pieces during testing. Two of the seven samples subjected to the five-cycle test showed no loss whatever; and the highest loss, in a sample from the Lincoln quarry, was 1.2 percent. All these values are low. Magnesium sulfate tests (five cycles), which are designed to simulate the effects of a much larger number of freezing-thawing cycles as a measure of soundness, (A.S.T.M. standard C88-44T) were made on six samples; the loss ranged from 0.0 to 11.1 percent.

Abrasion tests were made in Deval and Los Angeles machines. In the Deval method, the crushed aggregate is placed in iron cylinders that are rotated on a shaft for 10,000 revolutions at a rate of 30 to 33 r.p.m. This test is designed to simulate resistance to wear under traffic conditions. At completion of the test the material is removed from the cylinders and sieved on a No. 12 (1,680 micron) sieve, the part passing the sieve being considered as a measure of the wear. Wear is expressed either as percent of loss of original sample, or as the French coefficient of wear calculated by dividing the weight in grams of the detritus under 0.168 cm in size, per kilogram of rock used, into 400. The test procedure was according to A.S.T.M. standard method D-289-42T (A.S.T.M., 1944, pp. 1,369-1,371). Of the nine samples tested by the Deval method, the range in French coefficient is from 7.8 to 23.2; the highest represents dolomite-cemented sandstone from the Sylvan Grove quarry, and the lowest, calcite-cemented sandstone from sec. 12, T. 12 S., R. 8 W., Lincoln County. Six of the samples have a French coefficient of more than 14. According to Nash (1918, p. 148), "The best wearing rocks have a percent of wear of 2 or coefficient of 20. If this coefficient of wear is below 8, it is considered as low; from 8 to 13 medium; from 14 to 20 high; and above 20, very high."

In the Los Angeles test (War Department, 1942, pp. 91-93), the crushed sample is placed in a steel cylinder with cast-iron spheres, and the machine is rotated for 500 revolutions at a speed of from 30 to 33 r.p.m. At the completion of the test the material is sieved on a No. 12 sieve, as in the Deval test. The difference between the original weight and the final weight of the sample retained on the sieve is expressed as a percentage of the original weight of the test sample, and this value is reported as the percentage of wear. Seventeen samples were subjected to this test, and the percentage of wear ranged from 32.8 to 76.1. All but one lost more than 35 percent, and only four others lost less than 40 percent. These figures indicate rather low resistance to abrasion. The discrepancy between the two types of abrasion tests reflects a difference in the type of abrasion that takes place. The Deval machine produces a loss of material primarily by wear, and the Los Angeles machine chiefly by impact.

Solubility of the sandstone in hydrochloric acid (Table 4) ranges from 32 to 40 percent, and chemical and petrographic analyses show that most of the acid-soluble fraction consists of carbonate cement. The sample with the lowest solubility is rock dust from the crusher in the Kanopolis quarry, and a slightly lower content of carbonate cement is to be expected. Chemical analyses show the silica content to range from 61 to 65 percent in all samples. Magnesium oxide is 1 percent or less except in the samples from the Sylvan Grove quarry, where it is nearly 6 percent. The percent of iron oxide is 2.7 or less, and aluminum oxide less than 2.5.


The data presented in this report, together with information supplied by the State Highway Commission and other users, indicate that the carbonate-cemented sandstone in the Dakota and Kiowa formations is high-quality rock for concrete aggregate and other uses. Peyton (1946, p. 104), in a study of the effect of coarse aggregate on the condition of concrete pavements in Kansas, gives unqualified approval to the Lincoln sandstone or "quartzite." He writes: "Nearly 7 percent of the pavements examined contain this material. Its record is universally good without regard to age." Concrete pavements in which this material has beell used as aggregate and which have been in use for 20 years or longer are located in the towns of Lincoln, Minneapolis, Bennington, Salina, and on U.S. Highway 81 between Minneapolis and Bennington (personal communication, J.R. Carlgren). The rock has also been used successfully as riprap, road metal, secondary railroad ballast, filter stone for sewage disposal plants, and as aggregate for concrete blocks and tile. It is not used as a building stone because it breaks into angular fragments instead of along bedding and joint planes, and because occasional pyrite nodules cause prominent brown stains upon weathering.

Physical test data on the other types of sandstone which occur in the Dakota and Kiowa formations are not available, but Table 5, furnished by the Corps of Engineers, War Department, provides a comparison of the calcite-cemented sandstone with a few other materials in the Kansas City district. The test data on each of 12 materials have been averaged in order to summarize their characteristics. Only one sample--the Tonganoxie quartzitic sandstone--has a lower absorption than has the Dakota carbonate-cemented sandstone. Two samples--Fort Scott limestone and Tonganoxie sandstone--show less loss on the freeze-thaw test (five cycles). The Dakota sandstone shows the least loss of the six samples undergoing the magnesium sulfate test. The average percent loss on the Los Angeles abrasion test is high, and is exceeded only by tests on the Fort Hays chalky limestone and the Fort Riley dolomite, but only six of the rocks were subjected to this test. Of the nine values recorded for the Deval French coefficient, only that for the Tonganoxie quartzitic sandstone exceeds the Dakota average.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web June 14, 2007; originally published Nov. 1947.
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