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Early Contributions to Understanding the Geology of Kansas

Daniel Merriam

Contributors to and the understanding of Kansas geology has gone through several stages. The first notes on the geology were by 'natural scientists' on reconnaissance expeditions through the unknown territory. Three of those making notes were Étienne Veniard de Bourgmont in 1724, who noted that along the Kansas River was one of the most beautiful countries in the world; Edwin James on the Long Expedition in 1823 produced the first rudimentary geologic map of Kansas; and David Dale Owen described the geology along the Kansas River in 1852. The exploration stage was Benjamin F. Mudge and George C. Swallow, who each spent a year exploring the geology mostly in eastern Kansas, because of the troubles in the western part. They published their results of the first and second geologic surveys sponsored by the state both in 1866, but the program was discontinued. The foundation of geologic studies commenced with Francis H. Snow, who was a natural scientist, was one of the original faculty members when the university opened in 1866. In 1892 Erasmus Haworth arrived in the state to form the third geological survey and the Department of Geology consisting of him, Snow, Samuel W. Williston (paleontologist), and Edgar H.S. Bailey (chemist/mineralogist). Results of their studies were published in nine State [Kansas] Geological Survey volumes from 1896 to 1908, and Volume IX included the first 'modern' geologic map of the state. Next on the scene was Raymond C. Moore, Kenneth K. Landes, John C. Frye, Max K. Elias, and J. Mark Jewett who mapped and described the Kansas geology in detail. The 'modern' state geological survey located at The University of Kansas by then was a functioning and productive organization. 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90176©AAPG Mid-Continent Meeting, Wichita, Kansas, October 12-15, 2013