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The Kiowa core, a continuous drill core through the Denver Basin bedrock aquifers at Kiowa, Elbert County, Colorado

October 1, 2001

The Kiowa core was obtained as a component of the Denver Basin Project, a cooperative research effort to study the evolution of the Denver Basin, Colorado. The Kiowa core provides a virtually continuous stratigraphic record of the Upper Cretaceous and lower Tertiary strata of the Denver Basin. The upper portion of the core recovered strata conventionally referred to as the Arapahoe and Denver Formations and the Dawson Arkose. A prominent unconformity marked by a mature paleosol breaks these strata into two unconformity-bounded sequences; the lower sequence is termed Dl and the upper sequence, D2. Beneath these units and also penetrated by the core occur the Laramie Formation, Fox Hills Sandstone, and Pierre Shale.

The site for coring was selected in order to obtain fine-grained strata suitable for both palynological and paleomagnetic analyses. The coring effort recovered 93 percent of the 2,256 ft of rock penetrated, resulting in a nearly continuous record of the sedimentary rocks recording the retreat of the Cretaceous Interior Seaway and the subsequent uplift of the Front Range portion of the Rocky Mountains.

Palynological data constrain the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary to a depth between 878 and 880 ft in the core. The palynological data also serve to bracket the age of the paleosol marking the unconformity between the Dl and D2 sequences to between middle Paleocene and earliest Eocene. The paleomagnetic data are interpreted to represent polarity intervals ranging from polarity subchrons 31r to 28n and polarity subchron 24r.

Hydrologic analyses indicate variable aquifer characteristics across the State-defined bedrock aquifers. Individual aquifer units exhibit generally lower water-yield potential than was identified to the west in a core drilled by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1987 at Castle Pines, Colorado. Downhole temperature measurements indicate a normal geothermal gradient of 30°C/ km. Perturbations of the gradient may represent active fluid flow through the aquifers penetrated by the core.

Petrographic examination of the cored sandstone and mudstone units document both the clay-rich character of the paleosol series marking the boundary between the Dl and D2 sequences, and variation in sandstone composition with depth. The lower sequence (Dl) is characterized by litharenites with a significant volcaniclastic component, while the upper sequence (D2) is more arkosic. Extensive lignite beds occur in Dl in the cored interval and these appear as strong reflectors on the seismic line that passes near the core hole. A set of electric logs, core descriptions, and derived data sets accompany this report.

Publication Year 2001
Title The Kiowa core, a continuous drill core through the Denver Basin bedrock aquifers at Kiowa, Elbert County, Colorado
DOI 10.3133/ofr01185
Authors Robert G.H. Raynolds, Kirk R. Johnson, L. Rick Arnold, Timothy M. Farnham, R. Farley Fleming, Jason F. Hicks, Shari A. Kelley, Laura A. Lapey, Douglas J. Nichols, John D. Obradovich, Michael D. Wilson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2001-185
Index ID ofr01185
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse