Geology

The geology of Hutchinson County is one of its most striking features. From acres of rich grass and farm land to the canyons of the once-mighty Canadian River to the abundant deposits of oil and gas, this county is rich in natural beauty and resources.

 

Though the panhandle is mostly flat, semi-arid land, the Canadian River has carved a vast canyon across the plains of the county over the millennia that exposes the sediments deposited by the ancient seas that once covered this area. That sea stretched from the present-day Arctic Sea to what is now the Gulf of Mexico. Fossils of the ancient sea creatures have been revealed. Also revealed, the  ancient deposits of multi-hued Alibates chert (or flint) once used by the native Americans in the area to hunt game and protect themselves.

 

The ancient sea that covered the county five hundred million years ago, helped shape chimneys. The chimneys are made up of numerous layers of compacted sediment. Minerals in the compacted sediment layers solidified to form a type of stone that is considerably harder than the sedimentary around it. As softer rock eroded, the harder formations produced the standing chimneys. The lighter stone that caps the many of the columns is known as dolomite, which in some cases is interspersed with chert (flint). Because both are much harder than some of the layers beneath and around the chimney, it serves as a protective roof over the formations. Throughout the years, water also came into play in turning the chimneys into what they are today. Flowing water deposited calcium and iron, which seeped down into the stone and further hardened it.

 

Collapsed chimneys result when softer sediments fill voids in harder rock. As the softer sediments were dissolved and washed away by the water, the chimneys collapsed resulting in the structures we see today.

 

red rock canyons, canadian river valley

The red stone beds along the Canadian River Valley.

What is Geology?

Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change.

Arrow head made of Alibates Flint.

chimney, sedimentary rock
collapsed chimney
arrow head, flint, alibates flint quarries

Delve into the rich geologic history of part of the Lone Star State at the Hutchinson County Historical Museum. Plan your visit.

A chimney in the Canadian River Valley, below a collapsed chimney.

Hutchinson County Historical Museum   •   618 N. Main Street   •   Borger, TX 79007   •   806 273 0130

Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   •   Saturday 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Copyright 2014-17