Precambrian Basement Control on ‘Plains-Type Folds’ (Compacttonal Features) in the Midcontinent Region, USA

  • D. F. Merriam
  • Andrea Förster
Conference paper
Part of the Proceedings of the International Conferences on Basement Tectonics book series (ICBT, volume 5)


‘Plains-type folds’ were described in the early 1930s by petroleum geologists working in the Midcontinent, USA. The folds are characterized by small size, increased sharpness with depth, asymmetry, and association with faulting. These folds are ascribed to the compaction of sediments over crystalline, rigid basement, in this instance tilted Precambrian fault blocks. Initially, the ‘plains-type folds’ were formed when the present major structural features of the region were formed and adjustments continue today as recognized by neotectonics in the region. Development of these features in sediment veneers over the basement in the many cratonic environments of the world is of interest because locally they serve as traps for petroleum. Timing of development of the ‘plains-type folds’ determined when and if they were available for entrapment of petroleum as fluids moved through the system. This study indicates that there are two types of ‘plains-type folds’ in the Midcontinent: (1) the normal type developed mainly in the early Middle Pennsylvanian as a result of intraplate stresses caused by collision of the North and South American plates; and (2) those formed later as a result of other influences. By using a structural-depth gradient, which expresses the change in thickness of stratigraphic units on and off structure, it is possible to determine at which time(s) these features were affected by local or regional structural adjustments in the basement. By plotting the structural gradient, which is the change in structural closure with depth, the nature of the ‘plains-type fold’ can be recognized as being either (1) or (2). We propose that features exhibiting a low or no structural gradient (2), that is a similar structural closure with depth, and that are small and nearly circular in nature can be attributed to the emplacement of late Mesozoic or early Tertiary intrusive igneous plugs.


Stratigraphic Unit PRECAMBRIAN Basement Structural Closure Petroleum Geologist Structural Gradient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bates, R.L., and Jackson, J.A., 1987, Glossary of geology (3rd ed.): Am. Geol. Inst., Alexandria, Virginia, 788 p.Google Scholar
  2. Blackwelder, E., 1920, The origin of the central Kansas oil domes: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 4, no. 1, p. 89–94.Google Scholar
  3. Clark, S.K., 1932, The mechanics of the plains-type folds of the Midcontinent area: Jour. Geology, v. 40, no. 1, p. 46–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fath, A.E., 1920, The origin of the faults, anticlines, and buried ‘granite ridge’ of the northern part of the Midcontinent oil and gas field: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 128C, p. 75–84.Google Scholar
  5. Gardner, J.H., 1917, The vertical component in local folding: Southwestern (American) Assoc. Petroleum Geologists, v. 1, p. 107–110.Google Scholar
  6. Knight, G.L., and Landes, K.K., 1932, Kansas laccoliths: Jour. Geology, v. 40, no. 1, p. 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. McCoy, A.W., 1921, A short sketch of the paleogeography and historical geology of the Midcontinent oil district and its importance to petroleum geology: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 5, no. 5, p. 541–584.Google Scholar
  8. McCoy, A.W., 1934, An interpretation of local structural development in Midcontinent areas associated with deposits of petroleum, in Problems of petroleum geology: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, p. 581–627.Google Scholar
  9. Merriam, D.F., 1963, The geologic history of Kansas: Kansas Geol. Survey Bull. 162, 317 p.Google Scholar
  10. Merriam, D.F., 1994, Structural gradient: a new concept in ‘plains-type folding’ (abst.): Kansas Acad. Sci. Ann. Meeting Abstracts (Washburn Univ.), v. 13, p. 26.Google Scholar
  11. Merriam, D.F., and Förster, A., 1994, Precambrian basement control on ‘plains-type folds’ in the Midcontinent Region, USA (abst.): 11th Intern. Conf. Basement Tectonic ’94 Abstracts (Potsdam, Germany), Intern. Basement Tectonics Assoc, p. 101–102.Google Scholar
  12. Monnett, V.E., 1922, Possible origin of some of the structures of the Midcontinent oil field: Econ. Geology, v. 17, no. 3, p. 194–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Monnett, V.E., 1927, The ‘buried hills’ as a structural agency: Oklahoma Acad. Science Proc., v. 6, pt. 2, p. 268–272.Google Scholar
  14. Powers, S., 1922, Reflected buried hills and their importance in petroleum geology: Econ. Geology, v. 17, no. 4, p. 233–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Powers, S., 1925, Structural geology of the Midcontinent region: a field for research: Geol. Soc. America Bull., v. 36, no. 2, p. 379–392.Google Scholar
  16. Rich, J.L., 1935, Fault-block nature of Kansas structures suggested by elimination of regional dip: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 19, no. 10, p. 1540–1543.Google Scholar
  17. Rubey, W.W., and Bass, N.W., 1925, The geology of Russell County, Kansas: Kansas Geol. Survey Bull. 10, pt. 1, p. 1–86.Google Scholar
  18. Sugden, W., 1962, Structural analysis, and geometrical prediction for change of form with depth, of some Arabian plains-type folds: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 46, no. 12, p. 2213–2228.Google Scholar
  19. Twenhofel, W.H., 1926, Intrusive granite of the Rose Dome, Woodson County, Kansas: Geol. Soc. America Bull., v. 37, no. 2, p. 403–412.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. F. Merriam
    • 1
  • Andrea Förster
    • 2
  1. 1.Kansas Geological SurveyThe University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.GeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamGermany

Personalised recommendations