This roadcut along Fort Riley Blvd.
southwest of Manhattan exposes the
interval from the top of the Roca Shale to the Eskridge
Shale. This locality provide easy access to the complete
thickness of the Grenola Limestone. A detailed description
can be found in Miller and West (1993).
The Grenola is significant in that it
contains the highest
stratigraphic occurrence of a conodont-rich black shale in the Lower
Permian. Such black shales are common within the upper
Pennsylvanian where they typically contain abundant non-skeletal
phosphate nodules. The loss of such facies in the Lower
Permian is one of the lithologic trends associated with both a general
shallowing and increasing aridity throughout the Permian. The
two "true" black shales in the sequence are the thin black shales in
the Burr Limestone and at the base of the Neva Limestone.
Both of these shales have skeletal phosphatic lags at their bases with
abundant fish bone.
This locality also provides a good
opportunity to examine a natric
paleosol horizon at the top of the Salem Point Shale Mbr (see McCahon
& Miller, 1997 for descriptions and photos) (Fig.
28). The columnar peds are prominently developed and their
domed-shaped tops can be viewed on fallen blocks.
Significantly, a meter-thick gypsum bed is present at the base of the
Salem Point in the subsurface.
Figure 28. The upper Salem Point Member of the Grenola Limestone
includes two natric paleosol horizons. The diagnostic rounded columnar
ped structures shown in the lower photo are produced by subaerial
exposure under the influence of high sodium concentrations.
Like the Tuttle Creek spillway, the
emergency spillway at the Milford Reservoir also experienced
significant erosion during the floods of 1993. In this case,
the erosion extensively exposed the entire Barnestone
Limestone. A detailed description of this exposure is
available from the Kansas Survey (Miller & Twiss,
1994). The U.S Army Corps of Engineers supervises this site,
and collection of in situ geological samples is by permit
only. The area west of K 244 is designated "No Trespassing"
because it is an impact zone for small-arms fire. For
personal safety, previous arrangements must be made with the Geary
County Gun Club before proceeding west of K-244.
The Barneston is the thickest (22
meters) carbonate unit within the Permian section of Kansas, and is the
most prominent cliff-former in the Flint Hills Physiographic
Province. The Florence Limestone Member, comprising the lower
10.5 meters of the Barneston, contains closely-spaced nodular chert
layers in a skeletal wackestone to packstone (Fig. 29). It is
the faunally most diverse member and dominated by productid
brachiopods, fenestrate, ramose and encrusting bryozoans, crinoids, and
Figure 29. Irregular chert layers within the Florence Limestone Member.
These chert nodule layers appear to form burrow-like networks.
The morphology of the nodular chert
layers of the Florence Limestone resembles that of complex burrow
systems similar to Thalassinoides (Fig. 30). On many surfaces they are
joined to form continuous polygonal networks. Commonly, two or more of
the chert layers are joined by vertical and inclined chert masses to
form multi-storied networks. The apparent localization of silica
replacement within burrows may have been a result of higher porosity
and permeability within the skeletal burrow fills. Unsilicified
Rhizocorallium and some Thalassinoides-like burrow systems occur in a
few beds. These burrow systems are filled with skeletal debris coarser
than the matrix and are probably similar in origin to the "tubular
tempestites" described from modern shallow marine environments.
Figure 30. Bedding plane view of nodular chert horizon within Florence
Limestone Member. Note the borrow-like geometries.
Vertically connected nodular chert
layers form multi-storied galleries that are consistently 20 to 30 cm
thick. These galleries are stacked, and although typically separated by
less than 10 cm, do not appear to be interconnected. This would seem to
suggest relatively rapid sediment aggradation followed by the
development of extensive burrow networks. Filling of pre-existing
burrow networks by skeletal debris may have accompanied these
sedimentation events. The stacked silicified burrow networks are in
turn organized into meter-scale cycles that are separated by clayey
units of a few tens of centimeters or less. Based on previous work on
Lower Permian cyclicity, these meter-scale cycles may record climatic
fluctuations in which clean limestones record arid or semi-arid
conditions, and the clay-rich carbonates record somewhat wetter
climates when terrigenous clastics were flushed into the basin.
Above the Florence Mbr. is the thin
argillaceous Oketo Shale Mbr that is in-turn overlain by the Fort Riley
Limestone Mbr. At the base of the Fort Riley is a massive limestone bed
that is a prominent ridge-forming unit in the area. The Fort Riley Mbr
becomes less fossiliferous and more dolomitic upward. A variety of
sedimentologic features, including abundant molds of anhydrite nodules
and gypsum rosettes (Fig. 31), laminated dolomitic mudstone (Fig, 32),
polygonal desiccation cracks, tepee structures and boxwork structures
(Fig. 33), strongly suggest upward shallowing and the development of
evaporitic sabkha conditions.
Figure 31. Pseudomorphs after nodular anhydrite indicating evaporitic
Figure 32. Laminated dolomitic mudstones of the upper Fort Riley
Member. Bedding plane surfaces may have nearly monospecific pavements
of small Permorhus bivalves.
Figure 33. Tepee structures near the base of the Holmesville Shale
Member overlying the Fort Riley Limestone Member. These structures are
associated with boxwork structures and anhydrite nodule molds all
indicating evaporitic sabkha-like environments.
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