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 echinoids.

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 conditions.

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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