Kansas Minerals

Kansas Native Elements

Any mineral which is comprised of a single element or whose structure contains an indefinite, varying amount of two or more elements are called native elements. For example, gold (which is not common in Kansas) may also contain small amounts of silver, copper and iron and still is called a native element.

Sulfur (S)

Color Bright yellow to yellow-brown
Streak White
Hardness 1 1/2 - 2 1/2
Specific Gravity 2.0 - 2.1
Luster Adamantine to resinous, massive specimens may be dull
Fracture Concoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence In Kansas, Sulfur occurs as irregular masses, as earth coatings on other minerals, and as fine crystals. It has been found on surfaces of coal dumps as slender, needle-like crystals resulting from the decomposition of pyrite. Small quantities of the earthy variety are present in many rocks that contain pyrite. Most of it is impure and mixed with clay and limonite
Other Information Crystals of Sulfur can crack from heat produced by holding in your hand. Sulfur also may have a rotten egg smell.
Uses It is used for manufacture of gunpowder, matches and explosives. It is also used for creating rubber, in dyes, as insecticides and forms sulfuric acid. Most commercial sulfur is extracted from sulfide minerals.

Iron (Fe) - Nickel (Ni)

Color Steel gray to black
Streak Steel gray (Shiny)
Hardness 4 - 5
Specific Gravity 7.9 - 8.8
Luster Metallic
Fracture Hackly
Tenacity Malleable
Occurence The only Iron-Nickel that is found in Kansas is from meteorites (shooting stars). Two main types of meteorites are: Iron-Nickel metallic type and the stony type which often contains Iron. Meteorites can vary from pea size (10 mm) to a mass of 36 tons with most weighing less than 100 pounds.
Other Information Meteorites can be distinquished from other rocks in the following ways: 1) as a rule they are denser than other rocks. 2) In all cases they are solid masses of either iron/nickel or stone or both. 3) they have a distinct "burned" appearance. 4) They are commonly pitted or pockmarked and 5) most of them will attract a magnet because of the iron they contain.
Uses Meteorites are not mined for their iron/nickel content because of their rarity.

Carbonates

This group includes some of the most common minerals in Kansas, such as calcite & dolomite. The group is distinguished by a complex chemical make up that includes an element (Ca, Fe, Zn, CU, or Pb, etc.) with atoms of carbon (C) and oxygen (O).

Calcite (CaCO3) - Calcium Carbonate

Color variable, generally light shades of white, yellow, orange, brown, gray and colorless
Streak white
Hardness 3
Specific Gravity 2.7
Luster Vitreous to resinous to dull in massive forms
Occurence

Calcite is one of the most common minerals on Earth, comprising about 4% by weight of the Earth's crust. Calcite is the primary constituent of limestone and is therefore one of the most common minerals in Kansas. It occurs in many varieties of crystal forms (more that 700 have been described). It also may be granular, coarse to fine (so fine-grained that it has an earthy appearance). Calcite can be scratched with a knife, but not with a fingernail. It fizzes freely in cold dilute hydrochloric acid. It breaks into rhombohedron shaped blocks and has perfect cleavage in 3 directions.

Calcite also occurs as a common cementing material in many Kansas sandstones. It is found in calcareous shales and clays, as veins in the igneous rocks of Riley County and in the Niobrara Chalk and other Cretaceous rocks. Brown and colorless to yellow calcite are common in concretions such as the septarian nodules of the Pierre Shale of Wallace and other counties. Tiny calcite crystals form the linings of geodes and some fossils in some limestone and shales. Amng the finest calcite crystals in Kansas are those from the lead and zinc mines of Cherokee County, most of these being pale yellow and some of them very large (1-2 feet +).

Uses Manufacture of cements, limes for mortar, in the chemical industry and in fertilizers.

Aragonite (CaCO3) - Calcium Carbonate

Color colorless, white, gray, green, yellow, brown and violet
Streak white
Hardness 3
Specific Gravity 2.9
Luster vitreous to dull
Fracture subconchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence As nodules in clays in McPherson County, in a sand pit 2 miles southeast of McPherson, as veins cutting country rock at Silver City, Woodson County, as small crystals in vugs or cavities in the limestone of the Ross quarry near Ottawa, Franklin County and in many concretions in the Cretaceous shales of western Kansas.
Other Information Aragonite is much less common that calcite because it changes easily to calcite without altering its external shape. It is difficult to identify in the field. Aragonite has the same chemical composition as calcite, but a different structure and poorer cleavage. Aragonite crystals commonly occur as radiating groups of fibrous or needle-like shapes. Like calcite, aragonite can be scratched with a knife, but not with a fingernail. It fizzes freely in cold dilute hydrochloric acid.
Uses Not in sufficient quantities for use in Kansas

Dolomite - CaMg(CO3)2(Calcium Magnesium Carbonate)

Color pinkish, yellowish-brown, also colorless, white, gray
Streak white
Hardness 3 1/2 - 4
Specific Gravity 2.85
Luster pearly to vitreous to dull
Fracture conchoidal
Occurence Curved white crystals are common in lead and zinc mines of Cherokee County where they are associated with sphalerite, chalcopyrite, galena and several other minerals. Dolomite crystals also have been found in the Ross quarry near Ottawa, about two miles north of Williamsburg, both locations are in Franklin County. Additionally, they are found three miles north of Garnett, Anderson County. They can be found in formations of the sedimentary rock dolomite and certain red and green shales of McPherson, Rice, Reno, Kingman and Clark counties.
Other Information Dolomite is common sedimentary rock forming mineral that can be found in massive beds worldwide. Dolomite does not form on the surface of the Earth. Dolomite was originally made of calcite based limestone, but how it was transformed into dolomite is not clear. This is sometimes called the "Dolomite Problem".
Uses used in some cements and as a source of magnesium

 Siderite - FeCO3 (Iron Carbonate)

Color light to dark brown
Streak white, yellow, yellowish brown, brown and reddish brown.
Hardness 3 1/2 - 4
Specific Gravity 3.8
Luster vitreous or pearly
Fracture jagged
Occurence Most siderite in Kansas is the impure form called clay ironstone. This is a mixture of siderite with limonite clay and silt, forming small nodules or whole beds in clays, shales and sandstones.
Other Information Rhomb-shaped crystals with curved faces (like dolomite. Weathered surfaces change to limonite and turn dark brown.
Uses A minor ore of iron.

Smithsonite - ZnCO3 (Zinc Carbonate)

Color Yellowish-green, brown, green, blue, pink, white or colorless
Streak white
Hardness 4 - 5
Specific Gravity 4.4
Luster pearly to resinous
Fracture uneven
Tenacity
Occurence Is common in the near surface zinc deposits of easternmost Cherokee County, where it was formed as the result of action of carbonated water on sphalerite. It occurs, most commonly, as rounded, gobular forms or as honeycombed masses. Rhomb-shaped crystals are rare.
Other Information Smithsonite is named for James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian Institution.
Uses Minor ore of zinc. (not of sufficient quantities to be mined in Kansas)

Cerrusite - PbCO3 (Lead Carbonate)

Color colorless or white, also gray, yellow
Streak white or colorless
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity 6.5
Luster adamantine to submetallic
Fracture conchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Small amounts of cerrusite occurs as platy crystals which commonly cross each other to form a latticelike effect are occasionally found, as a result of chemical change of galena in the near surface parts of lead deposits in easternmost Cherokee County.
Other Information It has a very high luster due to the lead content. (quite similar to leaded glass).
Uses Minor ore of lead (not of sufficient quantitites to be mined in Kansas)

Malachite - Cu2CO3(OH)2 - (Copper Carbonate)

Color bright green
Streak green
Hardness 3 1/2 - 4
Specific Gravity 3.9
Luster dull to glassy
Fracture conchoidal
Tenacity
Occurence Occurs in Sedgwick, Sumner (at the bridge crossing the Ninnescah River two miles south of Milan) and Harper counties, where it is associated with copper mineralization in Permian shales and carbonate rocks. It occurs as tiny, brilliant-green specks in some thin dolomite bed near the top of the Wellington shale. It also occurs in the Tri-State Mining District in southeastern Kansas.
Other Information Semi-precious stone.
Uses Minor ore of copper, ornamental stone and pigment (not large enough specimens are found in Kansas to be used)

Oxides

Oxide minerals are those natural compounds in which oxygen is combined with one or more metals. An example of an oxide mineral is hematite (Fe2O3), a combination of molecules of iron and oxygen. The oxide mineral are usually harder than other classes of minerals with the exception of the silicates and they are generally heavier than other classes except for sulfides.

Hematite (Fe2O3) - Iron Oxide

Color Steel-grey, red, brownish red
Streak red-brown
Hardness 5 1/2 - 6 1/2
Specific Gravity 5.26
Luster Metallic
Occurence Most hematite found in Kansas is of the red earthy variety and is found scattered in clays and shales. It is the cementing material in red sandstones. Small patches of impure hematite mixed with beds of hematite sand are found in the Dakota Formation in eastern Russell County and in Lincoln County near Juniata.
Uses Was once the chief source of iron ore in other parts of the U.S., such as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Alabama.

Ilmenite FeTiO3 (Iron Titanium Oxide)

Color Black
Streak Black to brownish black
Hardness 5 1/2 - 6
Specific Gravity 4.72
Luster Submetallic to dull
Fracture conchoidal to uneven
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Massive variety has been found in kimberlite near Stockdale, Riley County. Platy crystals have also been found as grains in sand
Other Information Hexagonal - crystal form
Uses Ore of titanium. (not mined in Kansas)

 Magnetite - Fe3O4 (Iron Oxide)

Color Black
Streak Black
Hardness 6
Specific Gravity 5.18
Luster Submetallic to dull
Fracture subconchoidal to uneven
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence As tiny black shining octahedrons in the kimberlite near Bala, Riley County. Occasional grains of magnetite may be found in many river sands.
Other Information
Uses An ore of iron

Limonite - FeO(OH) . nH2O + Fe2O3 . nH2O (Iron Hydroxide)

Color Yellow-brown to dark-brown or black
Streak yellow-brown
Hardness varies
Specific Gravity
Luster dull earthy
Fracture
Tenacity
Occurence Concretions (particularly in the Dakota Formation) and in the form of impurities in sedimentary rocks. Limonite has replaced pyrite near Lincolnville in Marion County
Other Information It is formed by the alternation of other minerals that contain iron. The yellow brown earthy variety of limonite is a mixture of limonite and clay call yellow ochre that very soft. The dark-brown to black variety (bog iron ore) is so hard that it cannot be scratched with a knife. Small quantities of limonite give a yellowish or buff color to most sandstones and to many clays, shales and limestones. As a scum on quiet water, it may be mistaken for oil.
Uses Minor ore of iron. (not of sufficient quantities to be mined in Kansas)

Goethite - HFeO2 (Iron Hydroxide)

Color brown
Streak brownish-yellow
Hardness 5 - 5 1/2
Specific Gravity 3.3 - 4.3
Luster dull
Fracture
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence In nodules in sedimentary deposits in sandstones in eastern Kansas
Other Information
Uses Minor ore of iron

Pyrolusite - MnO2 (Manganese Oxide)

Color Black
Streak black
Hardness 1 - 2
Specific Gravity 4.4 - 5
Luster dull
Fracture
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Occurs in radiating fibers or as treelike patterns (dendrites) on rock surfaces and in the moss agate of Wallace, Trego and Logan counties.
Other Information Variety psilomelane is harder (5 -6) than pyrolustite, its streak is brownish-black. An earthy form of psilomelane (wad) is soft enough to soil the fingers. Wad forms the coating around pebbles in some gravel deposits and as soft black nodules in gravels and some soils in southwestern Kansas.
Uses Ore of manganeses

Sulfates

A common group of minerals in Kansas, sulfates consist of an element combined with atoms of sulfur and oxygen. The basic chemical unit is the (SO4). The typical Sulfate Class mineral is vitreous, average to above average in density, average in
hardness and are formed in veins, oxidation zones and in evaporite deposits.

Barite (BaSO4) - Barium Sulfate

Color colorless, white, blue, green, yellow, red
Streak white
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity 4.5
Luster vitreous
Fracture conchoidal
Occurence Barite is a common mineral in Kansas, but it is not found in large quantities. It has been found in some Pennsylvania and Permian limestones (Brown, Anderson, Franklin and Chase counties); in septarian concretions of the Cretaceous Pierre Shale (Logan and Wallace counties); in petrified wood;occasionally in the lead and zinc mines of Cherokee County; it occurs in veins a few millimeters thick in the Niobrara Chalk in north-central and northwestern Kansas. It also occurs as a cemnting material between sand grains in peculiar roselike concretations called "desert roses" or "petrified walnuts" of the Cretaceous Kiowa Shale (near Baravia, Saline County and in the Lake Kanopolis area in Ellsworth County).
Other Information In appearance, barite resembles gypsum, calcite or celestite. It can be distinguished from gypsum and calcite by its heavy weight. It can also be distinguished from gypsum by its hardness and from calcite because it does not fizz in hydrochloric acid. A flame test is the best means of distinguishing barite from celestite. If powdered barite is heated on a platinum wire in a Bunsen burner, the flame will become green, celestite will turn the flame bright red.
Uses Ore of barium, used in paint pigments, as a filler in paper and cloth, in making glazes for pottery and in the refining of sugar. It has not been found in commercial quantities in Kansas.

Celestite (SrSO4) - Strontium Sulfate

Color colorless, red, white and pale blue
Streak white
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity 3.9
Luster vitreous
Fracture conchoidal
Occurence Celestite has been found in Kansas as pink crystals and as veins in Brown County (north west of Morrill) and Chase and other counties. Solid blue, white or pink crystals have been found at the Lake Kanopolis dam near the water's edge below the spillway outlet. Celestite has also been found in the weathered zone at the top of Permian rocsk below Cretaceous sands and shales.
Other Information In appearance, celestite resembles barite.. A flame test is the best means of distinguishing celestite from barite. If powdered barite is heated on a platinum wire in a Bunsen burner, the flame will become green, celestite will turn the flame bright red.
Uses Ore of strontium. It has not been found in commercial quantities in Kansas.

Anhydrite (CaSO4) - Calcium Sulfate

Color white, gray or colorless
Streak white
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity 3.0
Luster vitreous
Fracture conchoidal
Occurence Anhydrite is found in Permian-age Kansas deposits associated with beds of gypsum, dolomite and red silt. With gypsum, it caps many of the Red Hills of Barber and other counties.
Other Information Anhydrite constitutes one of the three main evaporite deposits, the other two being gypsum and halite. It occurs as light-gray crystalline masses, although some anhydrite has a fibrous structure. It may change into gypsum if water is added.
Uses In the manufacture of some cements and in producing sulfuric acid.

Gypsum (CaSO4).2H2O- Hydrated Calcium Sulfate

Color colorless, red, white, light gray
Streak white
Hardness 2
Specific Gravity 2.3
Luster vitreous to pearly
Fracture uneven
Varieties
  • Selenite - colorless (or different colors depending on inclusions in the crystal) diamond-shaped crystals. having such perfect cleavage that they can be split into thin sheets. Some crystals will grow together to form "fish-tail" twins. Selenite is common in dark shales such as in Kiowa, Carlile and Pierre shales of Cretaceous age in western Kansas. In some places a network of selenite crystals are found in thin joint fillings and some of the crystals may grow together into "gypsum flowers". Small quantities of bright-red selentite are found in soome of the stream banks on the outskirts of Wichita, Sedgwick County.
  • Satin spar - white, or pink fibrous form and a silky luster. It is found as thin layers (although some may also be 1-2' thick) in beds of rock gypsum and certain shales.
  • Rock gypsum - massive, coarsely to finely granular, white to gray and contains various amounts of impurities. A good outcrop of rock gypsum can be seen about 10 miles west of Medicine Lodge along Highway 160. Large amounts of rock gypsum are mined in Barber, Marshall, Saline, Dickinson, and Comanche counties. Alabaster, which rarely forms in Kansas, is a very fine-grained type of rock gypsum. Gypsite (gypsym dirt) is a sandy or earthy deposit that is formed in the soil or in shallow lakes. It is found in Clay, Saline, Dickinson, Marion, Harvey and Sedgwick counties.
Other Information Gypsum is a common mineral that is widely distributed in the sedimentary rocks of Kansas.
Uses Making plaster of paris, Portland cement, various wall plasters, mortars, wallboard, ornamental stone, paint filler and fertilizer.

Goslarite (ZnSO4).7H2O - Zinc Sulfate

Color white, reddish or yellowish
Streak white
Occurence It is occasionally found in the Tri-State area as long, slender, needle-like crystals. Goslarite not uncommonly develops on mine walls.
Other Information Goslarite is formed by chemical action on sphalerite.
Uses Not of sufficient quantities in Kansas.

Sulfides

Nearly all sulfide minerals are formed by the direct union of atoms of an element(s) with sulfur atoms. For example, the combination of lead (Pb) and Sulfur (S) forms a mineral called galena. Many of the sulfide minerals are valuable ores, such as galena and sphalerite. Many of the sulfide minerals are found in the southeastern corner of the state.

Galena (PbS

Color Metallic grey
Streak gray-black
Hardness 2 1/2
Specific Gravity 7.4 - 7.6
Luster Metallic
Occurence Mined in the southeastern part of Kansas (the Tri-State Mining District), galena was the most important lead-zinc producing area in the world in the early part of the 1900's. In the late 1800's hundreds of small lead and zinc mines operated in Cherokee County. Today, the mines are closed. Galena, however, can be found along with other sulfide minerals in old mine dump sites. It has also been found in Linn, Chautauqua, Douglas, Els and Sumner counties and in rock fragments brought to the surface during oil in many other counties.
Uses The principle ore of lead.

Sphalerite (ZnS)

Color Yellow, brown, black or red (Deeper color depending on Iron content
Streak Pale yellow to brown
Hardness 3 1/2 - 4
Specific Gravity 4.08
Luster Resinous
Fracture
Tenacity
Occurence Mined along with Galena in the Tri-State Mining District (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma). Sphalerite is also found as small crystals in clay-ironstone concretions in the Pennsylvanian shales of eastern Kansas.
Other Information Also called zinc blende, black-jack, ruby-jack, mock lead. Crystals are usually shaped like triangular pyamids Because it has good cleavage in 6 directions, sphalerite will break into 12-sided blocks. Some sphalerite is found as massive desposits, ranging from coarse to fine grained. Im warm hydrochloric acid, powdered sphalerite breaks down and forms hydrogen sulphide (smells like rotten eggs).
Uses Most important ore of zinc

 Chalcopyrite - CuFeS2 (Copper Iron Sulphide)

Color brassy yellow, tarnishes to brown
Streak greenish black
Hardness 3 1/2 - 4
Specific Gravity 4.28
Luster Metallic
Fracture Uneven
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Chalcopyrite occurs with Galena and Sphalerite in the Tri-State Mining District in Cherokee County.
Other Information Crystals are usually 4-sided pyramidlike, but they can be poorly formed and massive.
Uses An important ore of copper where it occurs in abundance.

Greenockite - CdS (Cadimium Sulphide)

Color Yellowish
Streak
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity
Luster Resinous - earthy
Fracture
Tenacity
Occurence Thin films of greenockite sometimes coat sphalerite and other minerals in the Tri-State Mining District of Cherokee County.
Other Information
Uses

Pyrite - FeS2 (Iron Sulfide)

Color brass yellow, oxides forming a yellow brown coating on crystal faces
Streak black
Hardness 6 - 6 1/2
Specific Gravity 4.9 - 5.2
Luster Metallic
Fracture Conchoidal
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Coal deposits, with gypsum in dark shales, in the Tri-State Mining District
Other Information Most pyrite crystals are cube-shaped, but they can also occur as octahedrons (8 - sided), massive and granular masses. It is called "fools gold" because of its yellow color.
Uses For making sulfuric acid. For a few years it was produced as a byproduct of coal at West Mineral southwest of Pittsburg, Kansas.

Marcasite (FeS2) (Iron Sulfide)

Color pale yellow, greenish, white
Streak black
Hardness 6 - 6 1/2
Specific Gravity 4.887
Luster Metallic
Fracture
Tenacity Brittle
Occurence Concretions in coal, shale and limestone. Well-developed crystals have been found in the Tri-State Mining District of Cherokee County.
Other Information Sometimes called white iron pyrite, marcasite is a secondary mineral (it forms by chemical alteration of a primary mineral such as chalcopyrite). It may form thin tabular crystals that when joined together in groups are called "cockscomb". When combined into balls or nodules (or more complex groups), they are called rosettes. Marcasite can be distinguished from pyrite by its crystal form. It can weather to form limonite and melanterite.
Uses For making sulfuric acid.

Kansas Silicates

Approximately 1/3 of all mineral species are silicates: compounds containing silicon and oxygen such as quartz or combined with one or more metals in more complex molecules. These minerals make up about 90% of the Earth's crust.

Quartz (SiO2) - Silicon Dioxide

Quartz is divided into two groups - crystalline (those forming crystals) and cryptocrystalline (submicroscopic crystals).

Crystalline Quartz

Cryptocrystalline Quartz

Color colorless, white, blue, green, yellow, red
Streak white
Hardness 3 - 3 1/2
Specific Gravity 4.5
Luster vitreous
Fracture conchoidal
Occurence Barite is a common mineral in Kansas, but it is not found in large quantities. It has been found in some Pennsylvania and Permian limestones (Brown, Anderson, Franklin and Chase counties); in septarian concretions of the Cretaceous Pierre Shale (Logan and Wallace counties); in petrified wood;occasionally in the lead and zinc mines of Cherokee County; it occurs in veins a few millimeters thick in the Niobrara Chalk in north-central and northwestern Kansas. It also occurs as a cemnting material between sand grains in peculiar roselike concretations called "desert roses" or "petrified walnuts" of the Cretaceous Kiowa Shale (near Baravia, Saline County and in the Lake Kanopolis area in Ellsworth County).
Other Information In appearance, barite resembles gypsum, calcite or celestite. It can be distinguished from gypsum and calcite by its heavy weight. It can also be distinguished from gypsum by its hardness and from calcite because it does not fizz in hydrochloric acid. A flame test is the best means of distinguishing barite from celestite. If powdered barite is heated on a platinum wire in a Bunsen burner, the flame will become green, celestite will turn the flame bright red.
Uses Ore of barium, used in paint pigments, as a filler in paper and cloth, in making glazes for pottery and in the refining of sugar. It has not been found in commercial quantities in Kansas.


Updated April 1999
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