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Quartzite boulder

Quartzite boulder at the Kansas Historical Society Weighing 20,800 pounds (10.4 tons), this quartzite boulder was carried to northeast Kansas by glaciers about 700,000 years ago. The nearest source of this red rock is more than 200 miles north in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, where it was formed during Precambrian times, more than 2 billion years ago. The quartzite is so hard and well preserved that it cannot be broken easily with a hammer, yet some boulders have been scratched or polished from rubbing against other rocks in the ice.

Many people find it difficult to imagine a part of Kansas covered by several thousand feet of ice, but evidence of the glaciers is abundant. Fields and pastures in northeastern Kansas are scattered with glacial erratics--red, brownish red, or purple rocks that are not found at the surface anywhere in Kansas. Millions of tons of rock debris were picked up by the ice sheets as they ground slowly southward and then dumped in Kansas when the glaciers finally melted back toward the north more than 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch or so-called Ice Age.

Entry: Quartzite boulder

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: September 2013

Date Modified: September 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.