Natural Resources of Kansas

by Anthony Farrar

For GO 336 Mineralogy

Kansas, USA



Image taken from:
http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Publications/Oil/index.html


Table of Contents


Introduction
Gypsum
Petroleum
Halite (Salt)
Natural Gas
Sand and Gravel
Helium
Other Minerals
References
Links


Introduction
    Kansas may not be a state that is well known for mineral production, but the actual abundance of natural resources in Kansas would surprise most people.  Everything from sand and gravel to volcanic ash is mined within the borders of Kansas (Minerals in the Economy of Kansas, 1979, p. 6).  In the following pages, both mineral and mineral fuel production and occurrence of these natural resources from Kansas will be discussed.  As of 1998, Kansas was ranked only 27th out of the 50 states in non-fuel mineral production (Minerals Yearbook, 1998, p. 18.1).  However, the mineral contributions of Kansas are still very important accounting for $535 million of the state economy in 1998 (Minerals Yearbook, 1998, p. 18.1).

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Petroleum
    Petroleum, or oil, is technically classified as a mineral fuel and is a very large part of the Kansas economy.  In fact, it was the first state west of the Mississippi to commercially produce petroleum (Minerals in the 50 States, 1991, p. 18).  It currently ranks eighth in the Nation in petroleum production (Topeka Chamber, 2001).  Kansas produced 34 million barrels of oil in 2001, an estimated value of $750 million according to the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS Oil Production Steady, Natural Gas Production Drops, 2001).
    During the early 1980's, oil prices skyrocketed, creating a frenzy in the oil-producing counties of Kansas as well as many other states.  This boost in prices is known as an "oil boom."  The industry significantly expanded at this time, however, since then, the industry has fluctuated in size.  Regardless of these rollercoaster prices, the petroleum industry in Kansas is still a vital part of the economy.  The following diagram explains some basics of drilling a petroleum well.


Image taken from:
http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/1121PetroleumDrilling.jpeg

    This is only some of the basics involved in drilling an oil well.  There is much involved with the process of extracting petroleum products from the earth.  More information about Kansas Oil and Gas can be found at http://www.kgs.ku.edu/PRS/petroIndex.html.

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Natural Gas
    Kansas ranks fifth in the nation in production of natural gas (Topeka Chamber, 2001).  Most of this natural gas production comes from the Hugoton field in southwestern Kansas extending into parts of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles (Minerals in the 50 States, 1991, p.18).  The following map illustrates the Kansas counties that defines the Hugoton field.


Image taken from:
http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Hugoton/index.html

    This gas field was the largest in the world as of the early 1990's (Minerals in the 50 States, 1991, p.18).  The Hugoton Project is an effort to obtain information and develop technology to better understand the oil and gas resources in the area.  To learn more about this project visit http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Hugoton/index.html.

    In 2001, Kansas natural gas production decreased by 10 percent most likely due to the production declines from the aging Hugoton gas field.  The production figures for 2001 were 474 billion cubic feet worth an estimated $1.97 billion according the Kansas Geological Survey.  The leading county in natural gas production was Stevens county, producing 21 percent of Kansas' total output (KGS Oil Production Steady, Natural Gas Production Drops, 2001).

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Helium

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    Kansas is the Nation's leader in helium production (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.1).  Helium has a variety of applications that include magnetic resonance imaging; chromatography; leak detection; space shuttle launches; superconductivity; electronics; pressurization/purging; controlled atmospheres; fiber optics manufacturing; welding; lasers; diving gases; and novelty balloons.  As a result of these many unique properties and applications, worldwide demand for helium has grown at a rate of over eight percent per year for the past 25 years (Web Elements, Helium, 2001).


    Helium was supposedly first discovered in natural gas on December 7, 1905 near Dexter, Kansas.  Previously, the element was only found in clevite, a mineral rock, and detected on the sun.  This particular sample was an estimated 2 percent helium.  After this discovery of helium in natural gas, it has become one of Kansas' leading economic resources (ESU Tales Out of School, 2001)

Image taken from:
http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/He/key.html
 
 
 
 

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Gypsum
     Gypsum is a soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate and water.  It is a 2 on Moh's Scale of Hardness.


Image taken from:
http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Extension/KGSrocks/gypsum_def.html

    In Kansas, gypsum is mined mainly in Barber County, but also in Marshall County (KGS Industrial Minerals in Kansas, 1999).  The mining in Barber County is mostly open pit mining where layers of gypsum rock are scraped from the earth's surface.  There is also some underground mining done in the area.  The Barber County gypsum mine is on of the Nation's 10 largest (Minerals in the 50 States, 1991, p. 18).  It is owned and operated by National Gypsum Company and an adjacent plant manufactures wallboard for the construction industry.  The plant produces approximately 1.3 million square feet of wallboard and 130 tons of plaster products daily (Medicine Lodge, Kansas: Industry, 2000).  The following picture is the Medicine Lodge National Gypsum Plant.


Image taken from:
http://www.cyberlodg.com/mlcity/industry.html

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Halite (Salt)
    Salt was Kansas' second-most abundant non-fuel mineral in 1998, accounting for 23% of the states mineral production value (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.1).  Kansas was also ranked fourth in the production of salt Nationwide, in the same year (Topeka Chamber, 2001).  The annual output of salt in 1998 was 3.23 million metric tons, an estimated value of $121,000,000 (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.3).


Image taken from:
http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Hydro/Hutch/SaltMining/

There are two common ways to mine salt, solution and dry mining.  In solution mining of salt, water is injected into the salt formation and the brine (salt-saturated solution) is recovered.  In dry mining, an underground bed of salt is mined, leaving behind pillars to support the roof of the cavern (KGS Hutchinson Response Project, 2001).  The image above illustrates this method.

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Sand and Gravel
    This is one of the largest non-fuel mineral industries in Kansas.  The sand and gravel is used to build and repair roads and to make cement.  Portland cement is actually Kansas' number one mineral commodity, representing 24% of the state's total non-fuel mineral production in 1998 (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.1).  Its totals for 1998 were 1.75 million metric tons at an estimated value of $129,000,000 (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.3).   Construction sand and gravel was also a contributor to Kansas's mineral prouduction.  Its totals for 1998 were 9.75 million metric tons at an estimated value of $28,300,000 (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.3).

 
                Image taken from:
http://www.imsdredge.com/products/versidredge/7012.htm
    There is much controversy involving the dredging of sand from the Kansas River.  Apparently, many feel that the industry interferes with possible recreation along Kansas River.  Kansas Geological Survey performed a study in 1997 involving the development of the river, weighing the opportunity costs of dredging the river versus setting aside parts of the river for recreation only.  This topic went all the way to the state legislature and the results, as of 1998, concluded that no part of the Kansas River be set aside for recreation alone (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.2).

    A problem that hindered the stone industry in 1997 was a severance tax of $0.22 per metric ton of stone aggregate produced in certain counties.  However, an injuction preventing the implementation of the tax was filed and was triumphant on the grounds that no other industry hauling on the county roads had the same tax imposed (Minerals Yearbook, 2000, p. 18.2).

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Other Minerals
    Some other rocks and minerals that are important to the Kansas economy are coal, limestone, granite, clays, gemstones, cultured quartz, propane, and volcanic ash (Minerals in the Economy of Kansas, 1979, p. 6).  The following image is bituminous coal from Southeastern Kansas.  Most coal in Kansas is of this type.


Image taken from:
http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/Extension/geotopics/coal.html

    This image is Big Brutus, the second largest electric shovel in the world!  It stands an amazing 16 stories tall and weighs 11,000,000 pounds!!   It was used in the 1960's and 1970's in the coal mining district near West Mineral, Kansas (Big Brutus, 2001).


Image taken from:
http://www.bigbrutus.org/

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Links of Interest

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References


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Copyright 2002 © Anthony Farrar and Emporia State University. All rights reserved.
If you have any questions or comments please email me at farrar84@hotmail.com. This page was created November 19, 2002.