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4: Getting to the bottom of the High Plains aquifer: New insights into the depositional history, stratigraphy, and paleoecology of the Cenozoic High Plains

By
J.J. Smith
J.J. Smith
Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas, 1930 Constant Avenue, Lawrence, Kansas 66047, USA
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A.L. Layzell
A.L. Layzell
Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas, 1930 Constant Avenue, Lawrence, Kansas 66047, USA
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W.E. Lukens
W.E. Lukens
Baylor University, Terrestrial Paleoclimatology Research Group, Department of Geology, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, Texas 76798, USA
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M.L. Morgan
M.L. Morgan
Colorado Geological Survey, Colorado School of Mines, The Moly Building, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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S.M. Keller
S.M. Keller
Colorado Geological Survey, Colorado School of Mines, The Moly Building, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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Robert A. Martin
Robert A. Martin
Murray State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Murray, Kentucky 42071, USA
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David L. Fox
David L. Fox
University of Minnesota, Department of Geology & Geophysics, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2016

Abstract

This field trip is tied to a GSA 2016 joint Pardee Keynote Symposium (P5) and related topical session on the Cenozoic geology of the Great Plains (T201) that integrate new breakthroughs in scientific coring and sedimentary geoscience with the long-term demand for better characterization of the High Plains aquifer. The aquifer is the primary source of groundwater for all uses on the Great Plains, and is experiencing historic declines in water levels that could seriously compromise sustainability in areas under increasing developmental stress. Understanding the depositional history, stratigraphic framework, and hydrogeologic properties of the Cenozoic sediments comprising the aquifer is important for developing water management strategies. This guide describes a three-day field trip to examine several ongoing and increasingly collaborative projects investigating the depositional history, stratigraphy, and paleoecology of the Cenozoic High Plains. The field trip is focused on two main areas: (1) the Denver Basin, where synorogenic sedimentation associated with the Laramide orogeny deposited sediments during the late Eocene; and (2) the High Plains of western Kansas, where during the Miocene–Pliocene uplift of the Rocky Mountains, a series of clastic wedges prograding eastward formed a nearly contiguous aggradational surface covering most of the western Great Plains. Late Cenozoic uplift of the region initiated deep incision into Neogene strata and the subsequent exposure of sediments and paleosols of the Ogallala Formation. During the trip, we will visit sites and landscapes that have a long and rich history of geologic investigation. In addition to previously published results, we also present new data on the sedimentology, geochronology, paleontology, and paleoichnology of Cenozoic High Plains deposits.

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Contents

GSA Field Guide

Unfolding the Geology of the West

Stephen M. Keller
Stephen M. Keller
Colorado Geological Survey Colorado School of Mines 1801 19th Street Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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Matthew L. Morgan
Matthew L. Morgan
Colorado Geological Survey Colorado School of Mines 1801 19th Street Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
44
ISBN print:
9780813756448
Publication date:
January 01, 2016

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