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s far as mountains are concerned, the Wichita Mountains are midgets, but they stand tall in scenic beauty. The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to ex- plore them, and understanding how the mountains were formed makes them even more special. Dr. Kurtis Koll, retired full professor in the Department


of Physical Sciences at Cameron University, now teaching classes at Upper Iowa University-Fort Sill and Comanche Nation College, gave me a tour and a quick introduction to the geology of the Wichita Mountains. From atop Mount Scott, the second highest peak on the refuge, Koll pointed to the prairie to the west. “Five-hundred-and-fi fty million years ago, this area was all rather fl at, covered with a shallow sea as a result of rifting where this area subsided,” he says. Commenting that land mass confi gurations were very different then, he went on to explain that due to the movement of the earth’s plates, land was forced above the sea level bringing these rocks to the surface. These processes took hundreds of thousands of years. In addition to the uplift, part of the land between what would become the Wichita Mountains began to sink.


Seawater poured back into the depressions. At the same time, magma (molten rock) was breaking through the earth’s crust, cooling and solidifying. Over eons, sediments were deposited over earlier rock. As the sediments were exposed to wind and water erosion, they were removed.


A million years ago, while the landscape might have looked familiar, you could have seen ancestors of modern elephants, horses, and camels grazing at the base of the Wichitas. The Wichita Mountains are made up of a main group


stretching from near Medicine Park about 30 miles to the northwest and a smaller southern group which includes Quartz Mountain near Altus, Okla. The main group con- sists of a northern and southern string separated by a prai- rie expanse. The two most common types of rock found in the


Wichita Wildlife Refuge are gabbro and granite. Some of the oldest rock, gabbro, is about 535 million years old. Created when magma cooled beneath the earth’s surface, it is composed primarily of feldspar, pyroxene, horn- blende, and magnetite. These rocks are dark gray or black


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Huge boulders atop Mount Scott are an irresistible attraction for visitors.


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CULTURAL CENTER is an international attraction


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