Kansas Rocks and Minerals

Sedimentary rocks containing coal, salt, and fossils are under Kansas.

The surface is sand and gravel from the erosion of the Rocky Mountains and carried eastward by water. These deposits created the gently east sloping High Plains, a region where agates and other quartz materials are found. Much of Kansas was underwater up until about 65 million years ago., but only the northeast corner of Kansas was glaciated bringing in large quartzite boulders.

Mississippian limestones and cherts of the Ozark Plateau are exposed in extreme southeastern Kansas in Cherokee County. This area was part of the Tri-state mining district, famous for producing some great minerals. In 1870 discovery of zinc ore near Galena, Kansas led to extensive mining for lead and zinc. The Tri-State mining district was one of the major lead and zinc mining areas in the world for over 100 years and included parts of southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, and northeastern Oklahoma. Mining in the district has ceased. Chalcopyrite and galena are also found here. Galena was named the official state mineral in 2018.

The Cherokee lowlands in southeast Kansas immediately north and west of the Ozark plateau is where rich deposits of coal were mined in Kansas. Massive gypsum deposits are mined near Sun City in northwestern Barber County.

According to the University of Kansas, of the 1,671 verified landings of meteorites in the United States as of April 2013, 158 had landed in Kansas. Western Kansas is a good place to find meteorites because or more open spaces and western Kansas is semiarid, so meteorites disintegrate more slowly there than in wetter regions. In 1882, Eliza Kimberly discovered what would become one of the most spectacular meteorite finds in Kansas on her family's property near the town of Brenham in Kiowa County. Over the years, more than three tons of debris from the Brenham Meteorite have been found at the site, including the largest example found in Kansas. In 2005, a 1,400-pound piece was located with a specially designed metal detector.

Also, according to the University of Kansas, coal was likely mined near Fort Leavenworth in northeastern Kansas as early as 1827. Coal mines were opened during the 1870s in Bourbon, Cherokee, and Crawford counties and coal was also mined in Osage County in east-central Kansas from 1885 to 1969. In February 2016, the last coal mining company in Kansas, at least temporarily, ceased operation.

Common Opal, mostly white with no opalescence or fire, but some with dendrite inclusions, can be found in Rawlins County, Ness County, and Wallace County.

Geodes, usually containing quartz or calcite, can be found all around the Flint Hills area in eastern Kansas, especially near Junction City, the towns of Florence and Rock, and in and around the Walnut River. They can also be found in gravels and streams of Wallace County and Trego County.

Agate can be found in rivers and streams all across the state but especially in and around the Republican River, Blue River, and Smoky Hill River. Lake Superior Agates can be found in glacial moraines of eastern Kansas near Topeka and McLouth, while moss agates can be found in the South Fork Solomon River.

Vertebrate fossils are also extremely common almost everywhere across western Kansas.

Jelenite, is a rare and specific variety of amber that has only been found in Kansas and was named the state gemstone in 2018, but unfortunately, the known collecting site is now underwater after it was flooded by the Kanopolis Reservoir.

Before venturing out-do some research on where and what you can collect. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands.