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Kansas School Naturalist

KSN - Vol 29, No 2 - Geology Museum, Emporia State UniversityCover Photo: Cretaceous mooasaur skeleton collected from the Niobrara Formation of
southwest Gove County, Kansas.

Volume 29, Number 2 - December 1982

Geology Museum, Emporia State University

by Paul Johnston

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Published by Emporia State University

Prepared and issued by The Division of Biology

Editor: Robert F. Clarke

Editorial Committee: Gilbert A. Leisman, Tom Eddy, Robert J. Boles, John Ransom

Online format by: Terri Weast

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers, school board members and administrators, librarians, conservationists, youth leaders, and other adults interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as supply lasts, except Vol.5, No.3, Poisonous Snakes of Kansas. Copies of this issue may be obtained for 25 cents each postpaid. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Division of Biology, Emporia Kansas State College, Emporia, Kansas, 66801.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April of each year by the Kansas State Teachers College, 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. Second-class postage paid at Emporia, Kansas.

"Statement required by the Act of August 12, 1970, Section 3685, Title 34, United States Code, showing Ownership, Management and Circulation." The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April. Editorial Office and Publication Office at 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas 66801. The Naturalist is edited and published by Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. Editor, Robert F. Clarke, Division of Biological Sciences


Paul Johnston is Professor of Geology at Emporia State University and Director of the Geology Museum. He came to the campus in 1959.

Geology Museum, Emporia State University

by Paul Johnston

Where did the glaciers pick up the rocks that they later deposited over the northeast part of Kansas during the Ice Ages? What can a petrified tree stump found in the Flint Hills tell us about past climates in Kansas? If Kansas has no volcanoes, how could the state have at one time lead the nation in mining production of volcanic ash? The answers to these and many other questions are available in the new Emporia State University Geology Museum. A long-held dream of the University's Geology Department finally became a reality in October of 1982 with the grand opening of their Geology Museum. The museum features 25 exhibits in 40 glass cases. The majority of the exhibits feature paleontological themes with emphasis on Kansas geologic history, but there are also Indian artifacts, modern sea shells, and mineral specimens.

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Fig. 1 - Sedimentary Structures Exhibit - Case #1.

The Geology Museum hours are 8:30 - 5:00, Monday-Friday and it is also open on weekends for special events. It is conveniently located on the main floor of Science Hall , Room 106. The Schmidt Natural History Museum, under the direction of the Division of Biological Sciences, is located in the same building.

In Cases #1 and #2, just inside the main entrance and to the left, is the Sedimentary Structures exhibit (Fig. 1). These features develop in a variety of ways during the different stages of the rock-forming process. This exhibit contains such familiar objects as geodes, concretions, and nodules as well as somewhat less familiar stylolites, cone-in-cone, and armored mud balls. Armored mud balls form when clots of clay break loose from shale banks of streams. If the clay can stick together as it is tumbled in the water, it will be pounded into a spherical form. Bits of rock from the pebbly stream bottom may stick to the surface of the rounded mass of clay forming an armor. Cone-in-cone consists of layers of concentric, cone-shaped shear surfaces that occur in some shales. Though most geologists agree that pressure is involved, the origin of cone-in-cone is still a puzzle. Stylolites are contact surfaces with teeth-like projections found in some limestones and resemble the trace of a stylus. These seams are characterized by concentrations of the insoluble constituents of the rock, which is evidence of solution playing a role in their origin.

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Fig. 2 - Hamilton QUarry Fossil Assemblage - Case #7

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Fig. 3 - Tri-State Lud and Zinc Mining District Exhibit - Case #11.

Cases #3 and #4 contain fossil deciduous tree leaves that were collected from the Smoky Hills region of central Kansas. Here one sees imprints of familiar looking leaves, such as willow, poplar, and oak. These give us an indication of the type of climate that existed in Kansas during one interval of the Cretaceous Period about 100 million years ago.

The largest exhibit in the museum is seen in Cases #5 - #9. This features fossil flora, fish, insects, myriapods, and amphibians that comprise the Hamilton Quarry Fossil Assemblage (Fig. 2). These diverse forms of life were found preserved together in one rock layer of Pennsylvanian age near Hamilton, Kansas. The record of life on earth is a complex sequence of ecosytems such as that seen here, but rarely are we able to recreate as clearly a picture of an ancient community as was possible with these fossils. During the Upper Pennsylvanian, shallow seas invaded and retreated repeatedly across the midcontinent. Since the fossils found at the Hamilton Quarry indicate a non-marine environment, this region must have been occupied by a bay or estuary at the mouth of a river that flowed into the sea during the time when the land was partially exposed.

This bay and the region draining into it were teeming with life. The upland type of flora fossilized in the rock layer suggests the region was not swampy. Water draining down from higher levels brought broken fragments of plants, branches of trees, and leaves into the bay, where they would sink and become buried in sediment. This debris would later harden into the rock that is now being quarried at the site. Large fossil roaches in vast numbers have been collected and are on display. Their abundance suggests that they were an important link in the food chain of the community. Other arthropods that made up part of this ancient ecosystem were scorpions and spiders. Part of the evidence that this was a non-marine environment is the discovery of fossil eurypterids in the layer. Eurypterids are an extinct group of arthropod that possessed a long, spike-like tail and are only found in fresh or brackish water deposits. Another interesting fossil group found in the quarry is the myriapods. These are air breathing, worm-like, multiple segmented arthropods with many legs.

Most of the specimens in this exhibit were collected by Walter Lockard of rural Hamilton, Kansas, from a quarry near his home. Walter is a graduate of Emporia State University and works in the oil business. In his spare time, he enjoys collecting fossils, and through his hobby, has made friends in paleontological circles both in Kansas and across the nation. A new species of amphibian that was found in the quarry was named after him, Eoscopus lockardi.

Ore specimens from the famous Tri-State Mining District are seen in Cases #10 and #11 (Fig. 3). The District, which is no longer active, includes southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma and was once the nation's leading producer of lead and zinc. The ore minerals galena and sphalerite along with the associated minerals calcite, dolomite, and chalcopyrite are on display.

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Fig. 4 - Crystal Systems Exhibit - Case #14.

Old barn wood used as the backdrop, mining articles such as brass lanterns and rusty picks, and antique mineralogy books included in the display all help to create a mood of this by-gone era.

The materials used in this exhibit are a portion of the A.C. and Hilda Carpenter Collection. The Carpenters lived in Ottawa, Kansas, and were avid rockhounds. Mr. Carpenter made his living as an oilman, having become involved in the petroleum industry in its early days. Over the years, the Carpenters accumulated one of the largest private geology collections in Kansas. After her husband's death in 1967, Mrs. Carpenter donated the bulk of the collection to Emporia State University.

Case #12 contains many different forms of the mineral gypsum collected from localities around the United States and Mexico. Selenite is the clear, transparent form of the gypsum that yields broad cleavage pieces. Alabaster is a fine-grained form that occurs in thick deposits. Satin spar is a fibrous variety that forms by recrystallization of layers of gypsum In sedimentary deposits. Most forms of gypsum are variations of these three types. This is also part of the Carpenter Collection. One of Mr. Carpenter's special interests was the mineral gypsum and its many forms. He accumulated a multitude of various forms of the mineral through collecting, trading, and purchasing nationwide.

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Fig. 5 - Indian Artifacts Exhibit - Case #17.

The theme of gypsum is continued in Case #13 with large clusters of selenite gypsum collected from the Salt Plains of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Salt Flats consist of a broad, flat deposit of sand covering about 25 square miles in northcentral Oklahoma. These loose deposits of sand are saturated with natural brine which is seeping up from underlying Permian rocks. At times, the saline solutions are sufficiently concentrated to promote crystal growth just below the salt-encrusted surface. To collect these specimens, one digs a pit of a foot or so deep in the loose soggy sand. Slowly the pit fills with water, which is then used to splash against the sides of the pit to wash the sand away, exposing the fragile crystal clusters.

Case #14 contains examples of natural crystals and explains how these are classified into six different crystal systems based on the lengths and angles between crystal axes (Fig. 4). This exhibit includes a model showing the geometric arrangement of the atoms making up a typical mineral and numerous crystals of common minerals.

Cases #15 and #16 contain petrified wood from various parts of North America, including some pieces from Kansas. Most of these specimens were collected from the Chinle Formation of southwestern United States. In Late Triassic, the region of southwestern United States was an upland area with conifer forests and streams. During periods of torrential floods, huge logs washed into the streams and became buried in gravels, sands, and muds. These deposits eventually became the Chinle Formation. Slowly, mineral-rich water percolating through the deposits replaced the rotting wood with silica. The bright colors of the petrified wood, as well as the layers of rock in which it was found, are due to the presence of small quantities of iron oxides.

Cases #17 - #21 contain Indian artifacts (Fig. 5). Many of these were collected in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, but some are from as far away as northeastern United States. One part of this exhibit shows the types of stones used by early man in making tools. Because of the ease with which it can be chipped, flint is the most common stone that was used by these people. When this type of rock was not available in the local region, other stones that are capable of producing sharp, durable cutting edges were used, such as quartz, slate, obsidian, and quartzite. The abundance of tools made of stones not found in the local vicinity suggests that some of these early groups traveled and traded widely.

This exhibit also explains that flint and several closely-related rocks are composed of the mineral chalcedony. In its pure form, chalcedony occurs as a pale-gray to colorless, wax-like, somewhat translucent mass. Flint is nearly pure chalcedony, but contains sufficient microscopic impurities to render it nearly opaque. Chert is similar to flint, but with a higher degree of impurity, making its broken surface less smooth. It is slightly grainy and opaque. Jasper is a red variety of chalcedony containing various amounts of iron oxide. Agate is a colorful, banded form of the mineral.

The artifacts in this exhibit are part of two extensive collections that were gifts to the University: The E.J. Calkins Collection and the C.W. Hawkins Collection. C.W. Hawkins lived in Clements, Kansas, in the heart of the Flint Hills, where he gathered most of his artifacts. These were donated to the university in 1967 by his son and grandson Frank L. and Veri W. Hawkins. E.J. Calkins taught in a number of schools, including a one room rural school in Osage County, Oklahoma. From 1931 until his retirement in 1964 he taught on the Emporia State University campus in the laboratory school. His collection was donated to the University by his son George Calkins in 1980.

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Fig. 6 - Glacial Erratic Exhibit - Case #22.

Glacial erratics collected from the glacial deposits of northeast Kansas are found in Case #22 (Fig. 6). A wide assortment of rock types is found in this debris, and an attempt has been made to locate where in Canada or northern United States some of these boulders might have originated. A very common rock type found in the Kansas glacial deposits is a pink quartzite which is known to have derived from outcrops in eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota.

Some of the boulders in this exhibit have been matched with outcrops in Canada. One fossil, a small shark's tooth, was found in the glacial debris in Atchison County, Kansas. It was probably picked up by the glaciers from Upper Cretaceous rocks which outcrop in northeastern Nebraska and northwestern Iowa.

Dr. James Aber of the Emporia State University Geology Department collected the specimens seen here and designed the exhibit. Dr. Aber and his wife, Suzie, are both geologists and travel extensively and collect avidly. Dr. Aber's main research interests are in glacial geology.

Vertebrate fossils of the Great Plains are exhibited in Case #23. These are, for the most part, mammals, including oreodonts, sabertoothed cats, mammoths, and mastodons. Teeth and jaws of these animals are on display with an explanation of how the various teeth structures developed. As the Rocky Mountains began to form in Late Mesozoic and Early Cenozoic, vast amounts of sand, gravel, and silt were carried away by streams and spread over the surrounding region. The Great Plains Province, adjacent to the Rockies on the east, was covered by thick blankets of this debris. Fossil remains of land animals are abundant in these deposits. In many cases these fossils occur in "pockets" with numerous individuals crowded together. . One might interpret this as representing watering places where thirst-crazed animals gathered in exhausted condition during periods of drought.

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Fig. 7 - Paleozoic Flora of Kansas Exhibit - Case #25.

The fossil Paleozoic plants in Cases #24 and #25 (Fig. 7) were collected from the Tonganoxie Sandstone near Ottawa, Kansas. Localities such as this enable us to reconstruct what the eastern Kansas Paleozoic landscape was like. During the Paleozoic, Kansas was covered periodically with shallow seas that invaded the midcontinent. There were numerous periods during which the seas withdrew, exposing the land which flourished with plant life. The flora of that time was quite different from that found in Kansas today. A dominant element was the scale tree, covered with the distinctive fish-scale pattern formed by points of attachment of fallen leaves. Seed ferns of many varieties also flourished in the region and are preserved with exquisite detail.

Living in Ottawa, the Carpenters had easy access to this famous locality and accumulated the largest collection of Tonganoxie flora in existence. The majority of this material was donated to the local school, Ottawa University, where Mr. Carpenter held an Honorary Doctorate Degree. The specimens seen here are actually some of the smaller, poorer quality materials he had collected.

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Fig. 8 - Echinoderm . . . Modern and Fossil Exhibit - Case #26.

Fossil and modern echinoderms are found in Cases #26 and #27. The echinoderms are a diverse group of invertebrates that possess five-rayed symmetry, a skeleton of calcareous plates, and a water vascular system that is unique to the phylum. Representatives of the phylum shown in these cases include the familiar starfish and sea urchins, fossil crinoids, and extinct blastoids and crystoids. A particularly interesting specimen is a large slab of crinoids, (Fig. 8) that was collected near Quincy, Kansas. Crinoids are animals that are attached to the sea floor by long stalks consisting of round, button-like disks which are sometimes referred to as "Indian beads." Some of the stalks on this rock slab are three feet long. Crinoids are still living in the oceans today, and judging from the abundance of crinoid stem fragments found in eastern Kansas, they must have grown abundantly on the Paleozoic sea floors.

The large slab of crinoids was collected and donated to the University by two graduates of the Emporia State University Geology Department, Rex Ashlock and Joe Beeman. The two have been close friends from grade school days, both having been raised in Greenwood County. Today, they are both employed in the oil industry, but spend much of their spare time together collecting. Although they have made collecting trips from one end of the country to the other, much of their material has come from their home area, Greenwood County. They are the donors of a number of other pieces on display in the museum.

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Fig. 9 - Pelecypod Exhibit - Case #28.

Cases #28 and #29 contain modern and fossil bivalves, or clams, which comprise a diverse class of the Phylum Mollusca called Pelecypod a (Fig. 9). Adaptations to specialized modes of life have resulted in many modifications of the basic bivalve form of these animals. Relationships between modern and fossil forms become evident when viewing both forms at the same time in this exhibit.

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Fig. 10 - Gastropod Exhibit - Case #30.

The mollusks with the greatest diversity of form are the gastropods, or snails, which are exhibited in Cases #30 and #31 (Fig. 10). Snails exhibit a spectrum of adaptations from deep ocean to dry land. A large part of the radiation in the shape and size of the shells seen in this exhibit corresponds to differences in food source, and depth, temperature, and turbulence of the water in which they lived.

The modern shells in this exhibit, as well as those seen in other cases throughout the museum, are part of an extensive sea shell collection that was given to the University by an Emporia housewife, Mrs. Grace Nevitt Cunningham. Shell collecting was a life-long hobby, and her collection includes specimens from oceans and coasts all over the world.

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Fig. 11 - Cephalapod Exhibit - Case #33.

A third class of mollusk, the cephalopods, are seen in Cases #32 and #33 (Fig. 11). The most common living cephalopods are the squids and octopods, but in fossil form the chambered shells dominate the class. Outwardly these shells resemble those of snails, but inside their shells are partitioned by walls, or septa, into chambers. These chambered cephalopods are divided into two groups: (1) the nautiloids, whose chamber walls are straight, and (2) the ammonoids, whose septa are wrinkled and form intricate patterns on the sides of the shell. The animal lives only in the outermost chamber, leaving the others empty. By filling these empty chambers with gases, the shell possesses buoyancy. Coiling the shell appears to have resulted in placing the center of buoyancy more directly over the living chamber, giving the animal better balance. Early chambered cephalopods were not coiled, but possessed long, straight, conical shells. Filling the empty chambers with air caused the upward bouyancy to be at the opposite end of the shell from the heavy fleshy part of he animal. This caused the cephalopod to float with its tentacles hanging downward.

Exhibit #34 is a large slab of slickensides. This refers to the polished and scratched rock surfaces produced by friction in fault zones. The direction of fault slippage is indicated by the linear pattern of the scratches. This specimen of slickensides is left unprotected to encourage musuem visitors to feel the smooth, glass-like surface.

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Fig. 12 - What is a Fossil? Exhibit - Case #35.

The theme of the exhibit in Cases #35 and #36 is "What is a Fossil?" (Fig. 12). This exhibit explains that fossils are traces or remains of ancient plants or animals that have been preserved in the earth's crust by natural means. Examples and explanations of the various means by which an organism may become preserved in the rocks are shown.

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Fig. 13 - Volcanic Rock Exhibit - Case #37.

Rocks formed by volcanoes are shown and described in Cases #37 and #38 (Fig. 13). This exhibit contains obsidian, basalt, scoria, and pumice. Although basalt does not occur in Kansas, it is the bed rock of all ocean floors, making it extremely abundant in the crust of the Earth. Obsidian is the familiar, dark-colored volcanic glass that forms when lava cools and hardens abruptly. Scoria and pumice contain pores resulting from gasses being trapped in the lava as it hardens. Pumice is the lighter of the two, while scoria is heavier and darker. Volcanic bombs with their streamlined shapes form when clots of fluid lava are hurled into the air by the explosive ejection of lava from volcanic vents. If thrown high enough, these will cool and harden before reaching the ground. Although we think of Kansas as being far from volcanic activity, the state actually ranked first in mining production of volcanic ash during the first half of the century. The ash deposits, a sample of which is exhibited, were carried to Kansas by winds from the west and southwest.

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Exhibit #39 is an eighteen foot long mosasaur skeleton mounted to the wall (See cover picture). Mosasaurs occur worldwide in Upper Cretaceous rocks and are one of the most numerous reptiles found in the fossil form. This specimen came from the Niobrara Chalk Formation in southwest Cove County, Kansas. The flexibility of their lower jaws allowed these carnivorous, marine lizards to swallow animals of considerable size, but their main diet was small fish that swam the Cretaceous seas.

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Fig. 14 - Western Kansas Cretaceous Fossils Exhibit - Case #42.

Cases #40 #43 contain fossil specimens collected from the western Kansas chalk beds. A well-preserved
flipper of a plesiosaur is exhibited. Plesiosaurs, like the mosasaurs, were large marine reptiles. Rather than
swimming by a fish-like undulation of the body and the tail, which was characteristic of the mosasaurs, plesiosaurs rowed their bodies along by means of well-developed paddles. These were moved by powerful muscles, as indicated by the development of a large ventral plate for their attachment, a feature not seen in mosasaurs. The vertebra and teeth of various fish that lived in the Cretaceous seas are on display (Fig. 14). Various marine clams, the most abundant invertebrate animals of this time, may also be viewed.

Many of the specimens in these cases are part of the Robert Taylor Collection. Bob taught music at Fort Hays University before coming to Emporia State. While at Hays, he became a close friend of George Sternberg, a paleontologist of international fame. Bob accompanied Sternberg on numerous trips into the chalk beds and gradually became a paleontologist in his own right with several of his finds on display in the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas. After moving to Emporia, where he became Chairman of the Department of Music, Bob never lost his love for the western Kansas chalk beds. He shared his interest with friends in Emporia by rounding up groups to accompany him on his regular excursions to the Smoky Hill Valley of Western Kansas.

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Fig. 15 - Petrified Tree Stump from the Flint Hills - Museum Centerpiece.

Exhibit #44 is the centerpiece for the museum. It is a one ton chunk of petrified tree stump found in the Flint Hills between Emporia and Piedmont, Kansas (Fig. 15). The Flint Hills were not always a grassy upland region with extreme seasonal temperature variations. During the Upper Paleozoic, when the rocks that form this region were being deposited, Kansas was a tropical, swampy area that was periodically invaded by shallow seas. The petrified stump is from a tree that grew in forests that flourished here during one of the several intervals in which the seas withdrew from the land, the absence of tree rings is an indication that the climate of this time lacked seasonal fluctuations. This fossil stump was presented to the University in 1962 by Mrs. Isabel Lilley and sons, Earl W., and Wayne F. Lilley in memory of Ralph G. Lilley who found it several years earlier.


The Geology Museum staff wishes to acknowledge the following people for the support they have given through their contribution of money, specimens, and equipment.

Rex Ashlock
Joe Beeman
George Calkins
Hilda and A.C. Carpenter
Grace Nevitt Cunningham
ESU Earth Science Club
Donald Fast
Flint Hills Geology Club
Ronald Haselhuhn
Frank L. Hawkins
Veri W. Hawkins
Ralph Lilley Family
Walter Lockard
Dennis Neff
Warren Neff
Jim Nelson
Randy Peterson
Phillips Petroleum Company
John Rissler
Randall Rose
Gerald Roberts
Robert Taylor
Mary and Norman Walrafen

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