Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 6:4 (Fall 1986). Copyright © 1986 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


This volume, intended for readers with little or no background in earth science, delivers not only an excellent summary of the geologic materials of Kansas, but provides many of the clues by which geologists have been able to unravel nearly a half-billion years of the state's prehistory. The first chapter, by Frank Wilson, explains the intimate relationship between bedrock and topography that is so beautifully displayed in Kansas landscapes. The ridges, hills, and cliffs of the southeast are developed on the oldest strata exposed in the state; the High Plains, occupying most of the western third of Kansas, are underlain by some of the youngest sediments the icing on the "layer cake." The next two chapters, "Rocks" and "Minerals and Sedimentary Structures," both written by Laura Tolsted and Ada Swineford, describe and interpret the various earth materials that can be found in quarries and natural outcrops. Much of the material in this section seems somewhat dry and is treated in more detail in introductory physical geology textbooks. Many Kansans, however, will find the site-specific descriptions and photographs here to be quite valuable.