Enigmatic Red Beds Exposed at Point of Rocks, Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Chronostratigraphic Constraints from Uranium-Lead Dating of Detrital Zircons
Point of Rocks, a high-relief bluff overlooking the Cimarron River valley in Morton County, Kansas, is capped by distinct white beds of Neogene Ogallala Formation calcrete that overlie red beds of shale, siltstone, and sandstone. These unfossiliferous red beds are currently assigned to the Jurassic System; however, their age has long been debated due to a lack of marker beds, index fossils, and nearby correlative outcrops. As a result, geologists over the years have assigned the rocks to systems ranging from the Permian to the Cretaceous. In this study, four stratigraphic sections were measured in the red beds and three bulk samples were collected to determine the uranium-lead age distributions of detrital zircon (DZ) populations. Red-bed strata composed of fissile shale and sandstone are interpreted as alluvial overbank deposits, while dominantly trough cross-bedded and planar-laminated sandstones are interpreted as tidally influenced fluvial deposits. Detrital zircon age peaks can be grouped into at least seven subpopulations with a youngest single zircon age of 263.8 ± 12.1 Ma, a more conservative age of 293.0 ± 6.95 Ma based on the youngest grouping of three grain ages overlapping at 2σ, and a complete absence of Mesozoic age zircons. In addition, copper oxides along partings and fractures suggest that the red beds once hosted copper sulfides, a common constituent of regional Permian-Triassic red beds. The DZ data--in conjunction with the identification of the Permian Day Creek Dolomite marker bed in logs of nearby drilling tests--strongly suggest that the enigmatic red beds cropping out at the base of Point of Rocks should be assigned to the Guadalupian Big Basin Formation, the uppermost Permian unit in Kansas.
Benison, K. C., Zambito, J. J., and Knapp, J. P., 2015, Contrasting siliciclastic-evaporite strata in subsurface and outcrop: An example from the Permian Nippewalla Group of Kansas, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 85, p. 626-645.
Benison, K. C., Zambito, J. J., Soreghan, G. S., Soreghan, M. J., Foster, T. M., and Kane, M. J., 2013, Permian red beds and evaporites of the Amoco Rebecca K. Bounds core, Greeley County, Kansas: Implications for science and industry; in, Midcontinent core workshop: From source to reservoir to seal, Midcontinent Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists, M. K. Dubois, W. L. Watney, and J. Tollefson, eds.: Midcontinent Core Workshop: From Source to Reservoir to Seal, Midcontinent Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Kansas Geological Survey and Kansas Geological Society, Wichita, Kansas, p. 9-14.
Blakey, R. C., 2013, Paleogeographic and tectonic history of North America--Key time slices: Colorado Plateau Geosystems, Inc., http://cpgeosystems.com/namkeypaleogeography.html (accessed August 15, 2015).
Blum, M., and Pecha, M., 2014, Mid-Cretaceous to Paleocene North American drainage reorganization from detrital zircons: Geology, v. 42, no. 7, p. 607-610.
Croxton, N. M., Geist, J. W., and Peterson, A. E., 1998, Bridge foundation geology report, K-27 over the Cimarron River, Morton County, Kansas: Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, Kansas, 9 p.
Dickinson, W. R., and Gehrels, G. E., 2003, U-Pb ages of detrital zircons from Permian and Jurassic eolian sandstones of the Colorado Plateau, USA: Paleogeographic implications: Sedimentary Geology, v. 163, p. 29-66.
Dickinson, W. R., and Gehrels, G. E., 2008, U-Pb ages of detrital zircons in relation to paleogeography: Triassic paleodrainage networks and sediment dispersal across southwest Laurentia: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 78, p. 745-764.
Dickinson, W. R., and Gehrels, G. E., 2009, Use of U-Pb ages of detrital zircons to infer maximum depositional ages of strata: A test against a Colorado Plateau Mesozoic database: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 288, p. 115-125.
Dickinson, W. R., and Gehrels, G. E., 2010, Insights into North American paleogeography and paleotectonics from U-Pb ages of detrital zircons in Mesozoic strata of the Colorado Plateau, USA: International Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 99, p. 1,247-1,265.
Dickinson, W. R., Gehrels, G. E., and Marzolf, J. E., 2010, Detrital zircons from fluvial Jurassic strata of the Michigan basin: Implications for the transcontinental Jurassic paleoriver hypothesis: Geology, v. 38, p. 499-502.
Edson, F. C., 1947, Subsurface geologic cross section from Ford County, Kansas, to Dallam County, Texas: Kansas Geological Survey, Oil and Gas Investigations, Preliminary Cross Section No. 3.
Fay, R. O., 1975, A possible origin for copper in Oklahoma: Oklahoma Geology Notes, v. 35, no. 4, p. 151-153.
Finzel, E. S., 2014, Detrital zircons from Cretaceous midcontinent strata reveal an Appalachian Mountains-Cordilleran foreland basin connection: Lithosphere, v. 6, no. 5, p. 378-382.
Foster, T., Soreghan, G. S., Soreghan, M. J., Benison, K. C., and Elmore, R. D., 2014, Climatic and palaeogeographic significance of aeolian sediment in the middle Permian Dog Creek Shale (Midcontinent U.S.): Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 402, p. 12-29.
Gehrels, G. E., 2012, Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology: Current methods and new opportunities; in, Tectonics of sedimentary basins: Recent advances, C. Busby and A. A. Perez, eds.: Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 47-62.
Gehrels, G. E., Blakey, R., Karlstrom, K. E., Timmons, J. M., Dickinson, B., and Pecha, M., 2011, Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology of Paleozoic strata in the Grand Canyon, Arizona: Lithosphere, v. 3, p. 183-200.
Gehrels, G. E., Valencia, V., and Pullen, A., 2006, Detrital zircon geochronology by laser-ablation multicollector ICPMS at the Arizona LaserChron Center; in, Geochronology: Emerging opportunities, Paleontology Society short course, T. Loszewski and W. Huff, eds.: Paleontology Society Papers, v. 11, 10 p.
Gehrels, G. E., Valencia, V., and Ruiz, J., 2008, Enhanced precision, accuracy, efficiency, and spatial resolution of U-Pb ages by laser ablation-multicollector-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry: Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, v. 9, Q03017, doi:10.1029/2007GC001805.
Gould, C. N., 1901, The Dakota Cretaceous of Kansas and Nebraska: Kansas Academy of Science Transactions, v. 17, p. 122-178.
Gutentag, E. D., Lobmeyer, D. H., and Slagle, S. E., 1981, Geohydrology of southwestern Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Irrigation Series 7, 73 p. [available online]
Hatcher, R. D., Jr., 1987, Tectonics of the southern and central Appalachian internides: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 15, p. 337-362.
Joeckel, R. M., Ludvigson, G. A., Wally, K. D., and Doveton, J. H., 2007, Preliminary analysis of the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation in the Rebecca Bounds Core, western Kansas: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 39, no. 6, p. 338.
Johnson, K. S., 1974, Permian copper shales of Southwestern United States; in, Gisements stratiforme et provinces cuprifères, P. Bartholomé, ed.: Société Geologique de Belgique, p. 383-393.
Johnson, W. C., Woodburn, T. L., and Messinger, L. G., 2009, Surficial geology of Morton County, Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Map M-116, 1 sheet, 47 x 38 inches, scale 1:50,000. [available online]
Kansas Geological Survey, 1991, Geologic Map of Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Map M-23, 1:500,000 scale.
Kirkham, R. V., 1989, Distribution, settings, and genesis of sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits; in, Sediment-hosted stratiform copper deposits, R. W. Boyle, A. C. Brown, C. W. Jefferson, E. C. Jowett, and R. V. Kirkham, eds.: Geological Association of Canada Special Paper 36, p. 3-38.
Kume, J., and Spinazola, J. M., 1985, Geohydrology of sandstone aquifers in southwestern Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Irrigation Series 8, 49 p. [available online]
Kvale, E. P., and Archer, A. W., 2007, Paleovalley fills--Trunk vs. tributary: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, v. 91, no. 6, p. 809-821.
Lambert, M. W., Berenden, P., and Ripley, E. M., 1981, Copper sulfides in the Lower Permian redbeds of south-central Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 223, part 2. [available online]
Liggett, G. A., and Zakrzewski, R. J., 1997 (revised 1998), Final report on the geological and paleontologic investigation of the Cimarron National Grassland: Fort Hays State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service contract #CC2-2-12-94-07-028, 29 p.
Liggett, G. A., Zakrzewski, R. J., and McNinch, K. L., 1998, Geologic and paleontologic investigation of the Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas: Dakoterra, v. 5, p. 123-126.
Ludvigson, G. A., Witzke, B. J., Joeckel, R. M., Ravn, R. L., Phillips, P. L., González, L. A., and Brenner, R. L., 2010, New insights on the sequence stratigraphic architecture of the Dakota Formation in Kansas-Nebraska-Iowa from a decade of sponsored research activity: Kansas Geological Survey, Current Research in Earth Sciences, Bulletin 258, part 2. [available online]
Ludwig, K. R., 2012, Isoplot 3.75: A geochronological toolkit for Microsoft Excel: Berkeley Geochronology Center Special Publication No. 5, revised January 30, 2012. [information online]
Maher, J. C., and Collins, J. B., 1952, Correlation of Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks of western Kansas to the Front Range of Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey, Oil and Gas Investigations, Chart OC-46, 3 sheets. [available online].
May, S. R., Gray, G. G., Summa, L. L., Stewart, N. R., Gehrels, G. E., and Pecha, M. E., 2013, Detrital zircon geochronology from the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA: Implications for tectonostratigraphic evolution and paleogeography: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 125, p. 1,403-1,422.
McLaughlin, T. G., 1942, Geology and ground-water resources of Morton County, Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 40, 126 p. [available online]
McNinch, K. L., 1996, An integrated GIS database, geologic and paleontologic reconnaissance, and areal correlation of soils to geology within Cimarron National Grasslands (sic), Morton County, Kansas: M.S., Fort Hays State University, 99 p.
Merriam, D. F., 1963, The geologic history of Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 162, 317 p. [available online]
Moore, R. C., Frye, J. C., and Jewett, J. M., 1944, Tabular description of outcropping rocks in Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 52, part 4, p. 137-212. [available online]
Moore, R. C., Frye, J. C., Jewett, J. M., Lee, W., and O'Connor, H. G., 1951, The Kansas rock column: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 89, 132 p. [available online]
Moore, R. C., Frye, J. C., Jewett, J. M., Lee, W., and O'Connor, H. G., 1952, Graphic column of Kansas rocks: Kansas Geological Survey, 1 sheet.
Moore, R. C., and Landes, K. K., 1937, Geologic map of Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, scale 1:500,000.
Munsell Color, 2000, Munsell Soil Color Chart, Baltimore, Maryland, 22 p.
Norton, G. H., 1939, Permian redbeds in Kansas: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, v. 23, no. 12, p. 1,751-1,815.
O'Connor, H. G., 1963, Changes in Kansas stratigraphic nomenclature: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, v. 47, no. 10, p. 1,873-1,877.
Reading, H. G., 1996, Sedimentary environments: Processes, facies and stratigraphy, 3rd edition. Oxford, Blackwell Science, 688 p.
Retallack, G. J., and Dilcher, D. L., 2012, Outcrop versus core and geophysical log interpretation of mid-Cretaceous paleosols from the Dakota Formation of Kansas: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 329, p. 47-63.
Sawin, R. S., 2015, Copies of archived correspondence pertinent to the decision to classify the exposure at Point of Rocks, Morton County, Kansas, as Jurassic by the Kansas Geological Survey in 1967: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2015-2, 11 p. [available online]
Scotese, C. R., and Langford, R. P., 1995, Pangea and the paleogeography of the Permian; in, The Permian of Northern Pangea, vol. 1, P. A. Scholle, T. M. Peryt, and D. S. Ilmer-Scholle, eds.: Berlin, Springer-Verlag, p. 3-19.
Smith, H. T. U., 1940, Geological studies in southwestern Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 34, 212 p. [available online]
Soreghan, G. S., and Soreghan, M. J., 2013, Tracing clastic delivery to the Permian Delaware Basin, USA: Implications for paleogeography and circulation in westernmost equatorial Pangea: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 83, p. 786-802.
Sweet, A. C., Soreghan, G. S., Sweet, D. E., Soreghan, M. J., and Madden, A. S., 2013, Permian dust in Oklahoma: Source and origin for Middle Permian (Flowerpot-Blaine) redbeds in western tropical Pangaea: Sedimentary Geology, v. 284-285, p. 181-196.
Swineford, A., 1955, Petrography of Upper Permian rocks in south-central Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 111, 179 p. [available online]
Thomas, W. A., Becker, T. P., Samson, S. D., and Hamilton, M. A., 2004, Detrital zircon evidence of a recycled orogenic foreland provenance for Alleghenian clastic-wedge sandstones: Journal of Geology, v. 112, p. 23-37.
Walker, T. R., 1967, Formation of red beds in modern and ancient deserts: Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, v. 78, p. 353-368.
West, R. R., Miller, K. B., and Watney, W. L., 2010, The Permian System in Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 257, 82 p. [available online]
Williams, P. F., and Porto, S. P. S., 1973, Symmetry-forbidden resonant Raman scattering in Cu2O: Physical Review B 4, p. 1,782-1,785.
Zambito, J. J., Benison, K. C., Foster, T., Soreghan, G. S. Kane, M., and Soreghan, M. J., 2012, Lithostratigraphy of the Permian red beds and evaporites in the Rebecca K. Bounds, Core, Greeley County, Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2012-15, 45 p. [available online]
Zeller, D. E., ed., 1968, The stratigraphic succession in Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 189, 81 p., 1 plate. [available online]
Ziegler, A. M., Gibbs, M. T., and Hulver, M. L., 1998, A mini-atlas of oceanic water masses in the Permian Period: Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, v. 110, no. 1/2, p. 323-343.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgment of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Authors can view article download statistics for published articles within their accounts.