Western Kansas
Chalk and Fossils Safari


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Teaching the Significance of Tuttle Creek Canyon

A Significant Canyon Formed in three Weeks


The Western Kansas Safari usually starts here at the Corps of Engineers Dam at Tuttle Creek Reservoir, overlooking Tuttle Creek Canyon.


During the 1993 flood which affected many areas of the Midwest, engineers had to open the emergency spillway at Tuttle Creek Dam for about three weeks. In this brief interval, with relatively modest amounts of water, the water carved a canyon at least 30 feet deep into solid rock. The rapidly flowing water produced several effects: abrasion, hydraulic plucking, vortexing and possibly cavitation on the stream bed below the dam.

Post Rock Quarry

Some of the Kansas Chalk is harder than most. It was removed in slabs, broken into long pieces and used throughout central Kansas for fence posts. Now it is used largely for decorative signs. This site north of Sylvan Grove, Kansas, is the source of many of the famous Post Rocks used for building fences and buildings all across the region. Many safari-ites find significant fossils embedded in the Post Rock.

Post Rock Quarry Sign is Loaded With Fossils

We find numerous fossils in the Kansas Chalk. Even the sign at Post Rock Quarry gives testimony to the catastrophic nature of the chalk formation. It is extremely uncommon to find sediments with any preserved creatures in them today. Presently sediments form mud or topsoil, not rock, and they do not contain enough minerals to produce fossils.


If "The Present is the Key to the Past", then we have no knowledge of the past, because "the present" doesn't produce fossils like we find them. But, if you add lots of volcanoes and violence to a flood, you get lots of minerals for cementing agents to capture and preserve fossils. Many of the fossil bearing strata cover 10's of thousands of square miles, meaning the water event was not local, but was enormous. Does that give you any ideas?

In Search of the Wily Inoceramus (Large Clams)

In search of the wily Inoceramus.


The countryside near Wilson Lake is loaded with large Inoceramus (clam) fossils. We'll find larger ones the next day, but they are more numerous, and typically, better preserved, here.


An item of much interest for alert young observers: the lizards here look every bit like small dinosaurs. It is always a contest to see which youngsters can scamper faster, the humans, or the lizards, neither of which have evolved since creation week!

Large Volcanic Ash fall in Kansas

Another stop near Wilson lake enables all to fill plastic bags with volcanic ash. You can use it as an abrasive cleanser for face or pans, or combine with the rest of your souvenirs and the knowledge you gain on the safari to illustrate your own talk on the Genesis Flood!


But, of course, you must attend the Western Kansas Safari to learn the source of all this volcanic ash, and what historical event was associated with it.

Castle Rock Pre-2002

Castle Rock as seen from the south on a CSA Safari prior to 2002. Note, there are three tall spires and one short one.

Castle Rock - 2002

Castle Rock as seen from the south on our 2002 Safari to Western Kansas. One of the three towers shown above, had fallen during the prior year. Note the small pile of talus (fallen rock) is all that remains. In a couple more years, even the talus was gone. We have photographs back to 1926 indicating that about 50% has disappeared since then. Note also that, even in this rather dry climate, the talus only lasts a few years, then it too is gone.


Conclusion: This is one of several tower collapses we have observed in the last few years. It is likely Castle Rock will will be entirely gone in less than a hundred years. Of course, it is chalk, but do you really believe all other geologic erosion requires millions of years when this one needs only 200? Remember, this one experiences virtually no erosion agent, yet is eroding. The contents of these chalk beds also provide powerful witness to rapid deposition - seconds, minutes and hours, not months or decades.

The Thrill of Finding the Big One

Eva Arndt was eating a cookie at "Wildcat Canyon" when she spotted this ancient fish fossil, the same variety as the enormous ones in the museums around here. Shown here with two of her young charges and safari leaders Bob Farwell and Tom Willis.

Regretfully, this photo does not do justice to the fossil. The vertebrae are all quite well preserved and there were some large, darker fins that provided a nice contrast for the artistic-minded fossil-hound. Bud Arndt was at least as excited as Eva. He constructed a special coffee table and encased the fossil in plastic in the top of the table, to properly display it.


Remember to mix your fun with growth in knowledge. Nowhere in the world do we find fish fossils forming like we find them in graveyards all over the world. Fish, like other creatures require preservation in a special kind of catastrophe.

"Monument Rocks" or "Chalk Pyramids" - South of Oakley, Kansas

Way off the beaten path, most travelers never see any of these incredible chalk formations that are all over Kansas, or the millions of Yucca Plants that adorn the landscape.

The Eye of the Needle?

This formation, south of Oakley, Kansas, is called "The Eye of the Needle." It is part of a cluster of formations partially seen in this and the previous photograph. The formation is variously called "Monument Rocks" or "Chalk Pyramids."


The "Eye" is about 6 feet wide and 35 feet high.

Dust Storm Required Serious Prayer

The dust storm closed I70 for many miles each side of us, but did not bother CSA , it split and went by on each side of our campsite.


All we saw up close was a gray/brown haze for awhile.

"The Big One"

Gina Kohn showing one of the best shark teeth ever found on a CSA safari. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed she bought it.

Near Castle Rock

The chalk formations make great places to climb, if you like to live life on the edge (literally).

What is it?

Its a bird, its a plane no its a.... *drum roll*.... "What is it?"

We are in bad shape when even Bob Farwell doesn't know what it is. But we think it is a cow.



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Saturday - 07/13/2024