Previous geological expeditions to the Kansas outback by this party have concentrated on Gove County, where the spectacular Castle Rock and Pyramid formations are located. These monuments are carved from the Niobrara Chalk formation and are internationally known for their marine fossils. This formation extends over much of the central plains, particularly Western Kansas. The geology of Kansas consists of many layers of strata deposited by the great inland sea that covered the central part of the North American continent until the rise of the Rocky Mountains 65 million years ago. This was a shallow sea filled with a large variety of life and existed for many millions of years, leaving an excellent record of the evolution of life during this time.

These strata extend from the High Plains of Colorado to the eastern border of Kansas. After the uplift of the Rockies and Plains, erosion began to expose the various layers, and not in a uniform fashion. The slope of the land from Colorado the the Mississippi River exposes continually older strata. The Niobrara Chalk formation is particularly rich in marine fossil specimens and is particularly well exposed in Gove County, Kansas. However, this formation is in evidence in other areas of the plains of central Kansas.

From the Geologic Map of Russell County published by the Kansas Geological Survey, it will be noted that the Niobrara is near the surface in the far northeastern corner of the county, north of the town of Fairport. The map at left, compiled from the USGS 24k quadrangles for Fairport and Natoma, KS, is centered on Section 5 of Township 11 S, Range 15 W, 5 miles north of Fairport. The terrain here is defiled by a small creek which has exposed the outcrop discussed here. The area of the outcrop is in the red rectangle.

The orientation and description of the Niobrara and supporting strata are shown at left. This chart is taken from the Geologic Map of Ellis County, also published by the Kansas Geological Survey. The supposed location of the two Niobrara members are shown on the map above, though observation at the site did not confirm this, as will be discussed on the following page. The outcropping discussed here was the only one obvious from our cursory examination of the area, and all that was visible in situ. The west side of the creek afforded no obvious signs of the chalk. The ground at the north end of the road showed much evidence, but had been manipulated by the construction of the road so as to be of little use for a geologic examination. There may be other outcroppings on the eastern side of the hill examined, but we were not so adventurous as to discover them.
On to Strata