Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area landform origins in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to determine landform origins in the Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area located in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri. The Gasconade River is a north-northeast oriented Missouri River tributary with north-oriented tributaries, including the Big Piney River, which with its tributaries (mostly oriented in northwest directions) in the Dent and Texas County region is located along the Gasconade River drainage basin eastern boundary. The Current River is a southeast oriented tributary to the south oriented Black River, which then flows to the southeast oriented White River and which with its tributaries is located in the Dent and Texas County region along the White River drainage basin western boundary. Current River tributaries include southeast oriented Pigeon Creek and northeast-oriented streams with southeast-oriented tributaries from the west. Valley orientations, barbed tributaries, elbows of capture, and through valleys crossing present day drainage divides, provide evidence the Big Piney River-Current River drainage divide area was once crossed by massive southeast and south oriented floods, which were beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley. Reversals of flood flow along northwest and north ends of beheaded flood flow routes eroded northwest and north-oriented Big Piney River tributary valleys and valley segments seen today. The deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley was also eroded by a massive reversal of flood flow triggered by headward erosion of the deep Missouri River-Gasconade River valley to the north. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located north of the study region. The massive flood flow reversals responsible for headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley and its major north-oriented tributary valleys may have been significantly aided by Ozark Plateau uplift, which may have occurred at the same time as flood waters were flowing across the region.

Preface:

The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is one of a series of essays describing similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored deep glacial erosion paradigm, which is fundamentally different from most commonly accepted North American glacial history interpretations. Project essays available at this site may be found by selecting desired Missouri River tributaries and/or states from this essay’s sidebar category list.

Introduction:

  • The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore the Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area landform origins in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri, USA. Map interpretation methods can be used to unravel many geomorphic events leading up to formation of present-day drainage routes and development of other landform features. While each detailed topographic map feature provides detailed evidence to be explained, the solution must be consistent with explanations for adjacent area map evidence as well as solutions to big picture map evidence puzzles. I invite readers to improve upon my solutions and/or to propose alternate solutions that better explain evidence and are also consistent with adjacent map area and big picture evidence. Readers may do so either by making comments here or by writing and publishing their own essays and then by leaving links to those essays in a comment here.
  • This essay is also exploring a new geomorphology paradigm in which erosional landforms are interpreted as evidence left by immense glacial melt water floods. Implied in that interpretation is the immense floods were derived from a thick North American ice sheet that created a deep “hole” in the North American continent and also melted fast. The previously unexplored paradigm being tested in this and other essays in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project is a thick North American ice sheet, comparable in thickness to the Antarctic ice sheet, occupied the North American region usually recognized to have been glaciated, and through its weight and erosive actions created a deep North American “hole”. The southwestern rim of that deep “hole” is today preserved in the high Rocky Mountains. The ice sheet through its weight and deep erosion (and perhaps deposition along major south-oriented melt water flow routes) caused significant crustal warping and tectonic change, through its action of melting fast produced immense floods that flowed across the continent, and through its action of melting fast systematically opened up space in the ice sheet created “hole” so headward erosion of newly developed north-oriented drainage systems captured immense south-oriented melt water floods and diverted immense melt water floods north into space the ice sheet had once occupied.
  • If this previously unexplored paradigm is correct the geographic region explored by this essay should contain evidence of immense floods that were captured by headward erosion of new valley systems so as to cause the floods to flow in a different direction. Ability of this previously unexplored paradigm to explain Gasconade  River-Current River drainage divide area landform evidence in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm (see menu at top of page for paradigm related essay). This essay is included in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay collection.

Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area location map (select and click on maps to enlarge). National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 1 provides a location map for the Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri. Missouri is the state occupying most of the figure 1 map area with Illinois being located east and north of the southeast-oriented Mississippi River in the figure 1 northeast corner region. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north center edge to Jefferson City and then flows in an east-northeast, southeast, and northeast direction to join the Mississippi River as a barbed tributary. The Osage River flows in an east and northeast direction from near Schell City (near figure 1 west edge) to Harry S. Truman Reservoir and then to Lake of the Ozarks before flowing in a northeast direction to join the Missouri River near Jefferson City. Note how the Osage River has several north and northwest-oriented tributaries. The northeast and north-northeast oriented Gasconade River flows from near Seymour (east of Springfield in figure 1 southwest quadrant) to join the Missouri River near Gasconade (east of Jefferson City). Note how the Gasconade River has north oriented tributaries, including Big Piney River. The unlabeled north and west oriented tributary joining the Gasconade River west of Newburg is Little Piney Creek. East of Little Piney Creek is north- and northeast-oriented Dry Fork, which flows to the north-, northeast, and south-southeast oriented Meramec River. Note how the Meramec River has north-oriented tributaries and flows to Kirkwood, just west of St Louis, before flowing in a south-southeast direction to join the Mississippi River. South of north-oriented Osage, Gasconade, and Meramec River tributaries and headwaters are south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 1 south edge (also the Missouri-Arkansas state line). Except in the figure 1 southwest corner area all south-oriented streams flow to the southeast-oriented White River, which is a Mississippi River tributary. Of particular interest to this essay is the southeast-oriented Current River, which flows from the Ozark National Scenic Riverways area in the figure 1 southeast quadrant. The Current River is formed near the northwest end of the Ozark National Scenic Waterways area near the confluence of southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek (unlabeled in figure 1) and northeast-oriented Big Creek (also unlabeled in figure 1). South of the figure 1 map area the Current River joins the south-oriented Black River, which then flows to the southeast-oriented White River. The Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area in Dent and Texas County focuses on the region near Licking between north-oriented Big Piney River and Little Piney Creek and southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek and northeast-oriented Big Creek, which flows the southeast-oriented Current River. Essays describing other Gasconade River drainage divide areas can be found under Gasconade River on the sidebar category list.
  • Based on topographic map evidence in this essay and also in other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays the figure 1 map area drainage routes evolved as deep valleys eroded headward into the region to capture massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, which at the time figure 1 drainage routes were established was located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet had been comparable in size (both in extent and thickness) to the modern Antarctic Ice Sheet and had been located in a deep ice sheet created “hole”. The deep “hole” was created by deep glacial erosion under the thick ice sheet and also by crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s great weight. The Ozark Plateau which extends across the Missouri (and Meramec) River-White River drainage divide area in figure 1 may have been uplifted as part of the deep “hole’s” south rim and the uplift may have occurred as immense south-oriented glacial melt water floods flowed across the region. Initially the huge south-oriented melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage routes existed and flowed directly south across the entire figure 1 map region (and across a much larger area) to the Gulf of Mexico. Headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Mississippi River valley and its tributary valleys then systematically captured the south-oriented melt water floods and diverted flood waters to the actively eroding and developing Mississippi River valley system. Tributary valleys and their tributary valleys eroded headward in sequence from south to north (and west of the Mississippi River valley from east to west). For example, in the state of Arkansas, south of the figure 1 map area, headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys preceded headward erosion of the southeast-oriented White River valley and its tributary valleys. South-oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward along and across south-oriented flood flow routes and present day south-oriented White River tributaries flowing in those south-oriented White River tributary valleys are seen flowing to the figure 1 south edge.
  • As the deep Mississippi River valley eroded headward into the figure 1 map area additional tributary valleys eroded headward to capture south-oriented flood flow moving to what were then actively eroding south-oriented White River tributary valleys. Of significance to this essay headward erosion of the deep Meramec River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to many actively eroding Black River tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from the newly eroded White River valley. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Meramec River tributary and headwaters valleys. As already noted flood flow routes were beheaded and reversed in sequence from east to west and reversed flood flow on north ends of newly beheaded flood flow routes could capture south-oriented flood flow still moving on adjacent and yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. This process of beheading and reversing flood flow routes and then capturing yet to be beheaded adjacent flood flow routes created complex flood flow movements responsible for large incised meanders formed by many Ozark Plateau area rivers. North of the actively eroding Meramec River valley the Missouri River valley next eroded headward from the actively eroding Mississippi River valley. Unlike the Meramec River valley, which frequently eroded headward along and across reversed flood flow routes, the Missouri River valley more frequently eroded headward along and/or across south-oriented flood flow routes and as a result was able to erode headward much faster than the Meramec River valley. In time Missouri River valley headward erosion beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Meramec River valley and its tributary valleys and then began to behead and reverse flood flow routes moving flood waters to actively eroding south-oriented White River tributary valleys. The resulting massive flood flow reversals eroded the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley and its north-oriented tributary valleys. As already noted the massive flood flow reversals may have been aided by Ozark Plateau uplift as flood waters were flowing across region. The uplift may have been a delayed crustal warping response to the melting ice sheet’s great weight and/or it may have been triggered by deep flood water erosion of the Ozark Plateau region.

Detailed location map for Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area

Figure 2: Detailed location map for Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

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Figure 2 shows a detailed location map of the Gasconade River-Current River drainage divide area in Dent and Texas Counties, Missouri. County names and boundaries are shown. The Gasconade River flows in a northeast and north direction from Hartville in Wright County (where tributaries meet to form the Gasconade River) to the Wright County northeast corner and then across eastern Laclede County and along the Laclede-Pulaski County line before meandering in an east-northeast direction to Jerome along the Pulaski-Phelps County line. At Jerome the Gasconade River turns to flow in a north direction to the figure 2 north edge and north of figure 2 the Gasconade River flows in a north-northeast direction to join the Missouri River. Big Piney River is a Gasconade River tributary originating in southern Texas County and flows in a north direction to the Pulaski County southeast corner and then to join the Gasconade River north of Devils Elbow. Spring Creek is a labeled north-northwest oriented Big Piney River tributary originating near Licking in northeast Texas County and joins the Big Piney River near the Pulaski-Phelps County line. Arthur Creek is a labeled north- and northwest-oriented tributary originating west of Raymondville in east central Texas County and joins the Big Piney River west of Prescott. East of the Big Piney River in Phelps County is north-northwest and west-northwest oriented Little Piney Creek, which originates in the Texas County northeast corner (between Kimble and Maples) and which joins the Gasconade River near Jerome along the Pulaski-Phelps County line. East of Little Piney Creek in northwest Dent County is north-northeast oriented Dry Fork, which joins the north and east-northeast oriented Meramec River near the Phelps-Crawford County line (east of Rolla). Southeast of the northwest-oriented Little Piney Creek headwaters in the Texas County northeast corner and Dent County southwest corner is southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek, which flows through Montauk State Park to the southeast-oriented Current River, which flows through the region marked as the Ozark National Scenic Waterway and south and east of the figure 2 map area flows to the south-oriented Black River, which flows to the southeast-oriented White River. The hypothesis presented here is the southeast-oriented Current River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward into the figure 2 map area from the actively eroding Black River valley to capture immense south-oriented flood flow, which was subsequently beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep Meramec River valley in the figure 2 east half and by Missouri River valley headward erosion, which beheaded and reversed flood flow on the Gasconade River-Big Piney River alignment, to erode the north-oriented Gasconade River valley and tributary valleys in the figure 2 west half.

Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 3 provides a more detailed drainage map for the Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area, but unfortunately does not show contour lines. The map does provide an overview of drainage routes illustrated in more detailed topographic maps shown in figures 4 and 5. Sherrill Creek is the northwest-oriented stream flowing from the small town of Kimble to Sherrill (both north of Licking) and then to Beulah near the figure 3 north edge (west half). The north-northwest and north-northeast oriented stream west of Sherrill Creek is Spring Creek,and north of figure 3 Sherrill Creek joins Spring Creek and Spring Creek then flows in a north-northwest and northwest direction to join the north-oriented Big Piney River, which then flows to the north-oriented Gasconade River, which in turn flows to the Missouri River. North of Kimble and flowing to the figure 3 north center edge are headwaters of north-oriented Little Piney Creek, which north of the figure 3 map area flows to the north-oriented Gasconade River. Barnitz Creek is the northeast oriented stream in the figure 3 northeast quadrant and Kissock Creek is a northeast oriented Barnitz Creek tributary. North and east of the figure 3 map area Barnitz Creek joins north-oriented Dry Fork, which then drains to the Meramec River. The northeast-oriented stream near the figure 3 east center edge is also a Dry Fork tributary. In other words the Phelps-Dent County line near the figure 3 north edge also approximates the Gasconade-Meramec River drainage divide, with north-oriented drainage in Phelps County flowing to the Gasconade River and north-oriented drainage in Dent County flowing to the Meramec River. The northeast- and southeast-oriented stream in the figure 3 southeast quadrant with southeast-oriented tributaries located south and east of the northwest-oriented Sherrill Creek headwaters is Pigeon Creek, which south and east of the figure 3 map area flows to the southeast-oriented Current River, which in turn flows to the south-oriented Black River, which is a tributary to the southeast-oriented White River. Note how northwest-oriented Sherrill Creek headwaters are aligned with southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek headwaters and how the two opposing streams appear to begin in almost the same place. Figure 4 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area to illustrate how the two opposing streams are linked by a northwest-southeast oriented through valley. The alignment of the two opposing streams and the through valley linking the two opposing valleys provide evidence the present day valley alignments were determined by what was once a southeast-oriented flood flow route to what was then the actively eroding Current River valley. Headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Big Piney Creek valley (from the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley) then beheaded and reversed the southeast-oriented flood flow so as to erode the northwest-oriented Sherrill Creek-Spring Creek valley. The flood flow reversal may have been aided by regional uplift of the Ozark Plateau region, which may have occurred as flood waters flowed south across the region.

Detailed map of Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 4 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the Sherrill Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail and without contour lines in figure 3 above. Sherrill Creek is the northwest-oriented stream flowing to the figure 4 northwest corner. Pigeon Creek flows in a northeast direction from the figure 4 south center edge into section 25, where it is joined by a southeast oriented tributary and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 4 south edge (just west of southeast corner). Note how southeast oriented Pigeon Creek tributaries (flowing from section 22 to join Pigeon Creek in section 25) are aligned with northwest-oriented Sherrill Creek headwaters and how the opposing stream valleys are linked by shallow through valleys seen in section 22. The deepest through valley is located in the section 22 northwest corner and has a valley floor elevation of between 1340 and 1350 feet (the map contour interval is ten feet). To the southwest in the section 21 southeast quadrant elevations rise to 1411 feet (see spot elevation). To the northeast elevations rise to 1407 feet in the section 15 northeast quadrant. While there is a ridge separating the two opposing stream valleys there is also a channel at least 60 feet deep at its deepest points and more than a mile across (from high points on either side) eroded across the ridge. The channel is what remains of the southeast-oriented flood flow channel, which once crossed the region. Evidence of other significant flood flow routes can also be seen in the figure 4 southwest quadrant. The southwest-oriented stream in section 32 (in southwest corner region) flows to northwest oriented Spring Creek headwaters just north of Licking, which is just south of the figure 4 southwest corner (see figure 3) and the northwest-oriented stream in section 29 is a Spring Creek tributary. Note how in the section 28 northwest quadrant another shallow through valley with a floor elevation of between 1330 and 1340 feet links a north-oriented Sherrill Creek tributary valley and a southeast- and east-oriented Pigeon Creek tributary valley (this shallow through valley is defined by a single contour line on the west side). Also in the section 20 southeast quadrant a shallow through valley with a similar floor elevation links the same north-oriented Sherrill Creek tributary valley with a west-oriented tributary valley (draining to northwest-oriented Spring Creek). These additional shallow through valley provide evidence of complex flood flow movements that occurred as newly beheaded and reversed flood flow routes captured flood flow from yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes.

Detailed map of Kissock Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Detailed map of Kissock Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 5 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the Kissock Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above and located east of the figure 4 map area (and includes significant overlap areas with figure 4-the map contour interval is still ten feet). Pigeon Creek flows in a northeast direction from the figure 5 south edge (west half) into section 25 and then turns to meander in a southeast direction to the figure 5 south center edge. Fudge Hollow drains in a south-southeast and south direction from section 19 to the figure 5 south edge (east of center) and joins Pigeon Creek south of the figure 5 map area. Remember south and east of the figure 5 map area Pigeon Creek flows to the southeast-oriented Current River with water eventually reaching the White River. The northwest-oriented stream in section 15 (near northwest corner) is a Sherrill Creek tributary and remember Sherrill Creek water eventually reaches the Gasconade River and then the Missouri River. Kissock Creek originates in section 11 north of the Rock Springs Church and flows in an east-southeast and east direction into section 13 where it turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 5 north center edge. Remember (from figure 3) Kissock Creek water eventually reaches the Meramec River. Note how in sections 13 and 14 the Kissock Creek valley is linked by shallow through valleys with the valley of a south- and southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek tributary. The deepest through valley floor elevation in section 13 has an elevation of between 1310 and 1320 feet. In the section 24 west center there is a spot elevation of 1367 feet (south and east of the through valley) while as previously noted in the section 15 northeast quadrant there is a spot elevation of 1407 feet (west of the through valley). These elevations provide evidence of what was once a south-oriented flood flow channel to what was at that time the actively eroding southeast-oriented Pigeon Creek valley. Next look near the corner of sections 13, 18, 19, and 24 to see a through valley linking a north-oriented Kissock Creek tributary valley with the south-oriented Fudge Hollow valley. Again the through valley floor elevation is between 1310 and 1320 (at the deepest point). Elevations in the section 17 southwest corner area rise to at least 1380 feet (east of the through valley) and as already noted even higher elevations are found to the west. This through valley also provides evidence of a former south-oriented flood flow channel to what was then the actively eroding Pigeon Creek-Current River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Meramec River-Dry Fork-Barnitz Creek valley beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow to erode the north-oriented Kissock Creek valley.

Big Piney River-Big Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Big Piney River-Big Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 6 provides a drainage map (again without contour lines) of the Big Piney River-Big Creek drainage divide area located south of the figure 3 map area (there is a gap between figures 3 and 6). Houston is the larger town just north of the figure 6 southwest corner. Raymondville is the smaller town located just west of the figure 6 south center region. Drainage in the figure 6 west half is north oriented with water eventually reaching the north oriented Gasconade River and then the Missouri River. Drainage in the figure 6 east half is south oriented with water reaching the southeast-oriented Current River and eventually the south and southeast-oriented Black and White Rivers. Remember the figure 6 east half is south of the north- and northeast-oriented Meramec River valley and its tributary valleys while the figure 6 west half is located west of the Meramec River drainage basin and represents areas where south-oriented flood flow was beheaded and reversed by Missouri River valley headward erosion, which caused much more significant flood flow reversals than flood flow reversals triggered by Meramec River valley headward erosion. The Big Piney River meanders in a north direction along and across the figure 6 west edge in the region north of Houston. Arthur Creek flows in a northwest direction from the Raymondville area to join the Big Piney River north of Elmo Ridge. Mullin Branch is a southwest tributary joining Arthur Creek shortly before Arthur Creek joins the Big Piney River. Bender Creek flows in a south direction to the small town of Oscar and then turns to flow in west-northwest direction to join northwest-oriented Arthur Creek, which in turn joins the north-oriented Big Piney River. This U-turn made by Bender Creek water is evidence south-oriented flood flow routes were captured by headward erosion of the deep north-oriented valleys. The west-northwest oriented stream along the figure 6 north edge (north of Mullin Branch) is Boone Creek and the Boone Creek-Mullin Branch drainage divide area is shown in detail in figure 7. In the figure 6 east half Pigeon Creek meanders in a southeast direction across the figure 6 northeast corner to become the Current River near Montauk State Park. Ashely Creek is east-oriented stream joining the Current River near the Dent-Texas-Shannon County corner and is formed by east-oriented North Ashley Creek and northeast-oriented South Ashley Creek. Gregory Hollow is a north-northeast oriented South Ashley Creek tributary. The east-northeast and northeast oriented stream meandering from the figure 6 south center edge to the figure 6 east edge (north of center) is Big Creek, which east of the figure 6 joins Pigeon Creek. Pond Spring Branch is the southeast-oriented Big Creek tributary originating south of Raymondville. Figure 8 provides a topographic map of the Bender Creek-Gregory Hollow drainage divide area.

Detailed map of Boone Creek-Mullin Branch drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Boone Creek-Mullin Branch drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 7 provides a detailed topographic map of the Boone Creek-Mullin Branch drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 6. The Big Piney River meanders in a northwest, northeast, northwest, and west-southwest direction in the figure 7 southwest quadrant and west of the figure 7 map area turns to flow in a north direction to join the north-oriented Gasconade River. Arthur Creek is the northwest-oriented tributary joining the Big Piney River near the section 32 south margin. Note how the Big Piney River flows in a northeast direction to meet northwest-oriented Arthur Creek and then flows in a northwest direction along the Arthur Creek alignment before turning to flow in a west-southwest direction. A shallow through valley in the section 29 southwest corner links the northwest-oriented Big Piney River valley segment with a west-northwest-oriented Big Piney River tributary valley. What we are seeing is evidence of what was once a southeast-oriented flood flow channel which has since been dismembered and reversed to form several northwest-oriented valley segments. Mullin Branch is the west- and southwest-oriented tributary joining Arthur Creek in section 4. The southwest and west-northwest oriented stream in the figure 7 northeast quadrant (near north edge) is Boone Creek which north and west of the figure 7 map area flows in a northwest direction to join the north-oriented Big Piney River. Note how near the figure 7 east center edge a north-oriented Boone Creek tributary valley is linked by a shallow through valley with a south-oriented stream valley which continues to flow in a south direction along the figure 7 east edge (south half) to the southeast corner. The valley is named Cole Hole Hollow and south of the figure 7 map area Cole Hole Hollow drains to west-northwest oriented Bender Creek, which flows to northwest-oriented Arthur Creek. The map contour interval is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 1380 and 1400 feet with the hill to the west rising to 1418 feet and the hill to the east to more than 1420 feet. Another shallow through valley can be seen in the section 25 northwest quadrant and links a north-oriented Boone Creek tributary valley with a east-oriented Mullin Branch headwaters valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 1280  and 1300 feet and elevations to the west rise to 1338 feet (see spot elevation near section 26 north center edge). Continuing west along the drainage divide elevations generally decrease toward the Big Piney River, although other shallow through valleys can be seen and west of the Big Piney River elevations rise again to more than 1400 feet. The shallow through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels dismembered as deep valleys eroded headward into the region. At that time flood waters on some flood flow routes moved in one direction while flood waters on adjacent routes moved in opposite directions until headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley and its deep tributary valleys captured all of the flood flow.

Detailed map of Bender Creek-Gregory Hollow drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Bender Creek-Gregory Hollow drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 


Figure 8 provides a detailed topographic map of the Bender Creek-Gregory Hollow drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 6 above. Raymondville is the town located west of the figure 8 south center edge area.  Bender Creek flows in a southwest direction from the figure 8 north edge (west half) to the section 18 southwest corner and then turns to flow in a northwest direction to the figure 8 northwest corner. North and west of figure 8 Bender Creek joins northwest-oriented Arthur Creek, which in turn flows to the north oriented Big Piney River. In the figure 8 southwest quadrant north-northwest and west oriented Flat Rock Hollow drains to north- and northwest-oriented Arthur Creek (west of the figure 8 map area). Note how north-oriented Bender Creek tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Flat Rock Hollow tributary valleys. For example near the corner of sections 19, 20, 29, and 30 a shallow through valley links a north-oriented Bender Creek tributary valley with a south-oriented Kelly Hollow tributary valley (with Kelly Hollow then draining to Flat Rock Hollow). The map contour interval is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 1300 and 1320 feet. Near the west edge of section 19 elevations rise to more than 1360 feet and in the section 28 center area elevations exceed 1380 feet. The through valley was eroded by south-oriented flood flow moving across the drainage divide prior to being beheaded and reversed by Bender Creek valley headward erosion. South Ashley Creek flows in a southeast direction across the figure 8 northeast corner region and east of figure 8 turns to meander in a northeast direction to join North Ashley Creek and then to flow to the southeast-oriented Current River. Gregory Hollow drains in a north-northeast and east direction from the figure 8 south center edge to South Ashley Creek near the line between sections 23 and 24. Note how short east and southeast-oriented Gregory Hollow tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with northwest-oriented Bender Creek tributary valleys. For example in the section 28 southwest quadrant a shallow through valley links a southeast-oriented Gregory Hollow tributary valley (no stream is shown) with a northwest-oriented Bender Creek tributary valley (and also with a west-oriented Kelly Hollow tributary valley). The through valley floor elevation is between 1340 and 1360 feet and elevations on either side rise to more than 1380 feet. The through valleys provide evidence of former southeast-oriented flood flow channels which once moved flood water across the present day Big Piney River-Current River drainage divide. Headward erosion of northeast-oriented Current River tributary valleys first captured the southeast-oriented flood flow and next headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley (by reversed flood flow on flood flow routes beheaded further to the north) and its tributary valleys captured the flood flow.

Brushy Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area

Figure 9: Brushy Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 9 provides a another big picture drainage map (without contour lines) to illustrate drainage routes south of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Houston is the large town located near the figure 9 west edge. Raymondville is a smaller town located east of the north center region. Eunice is the even smaller town located near the figure 9 southeast corner. The Big Piney River meanders in a north direction near the figure 9 northwest corner. Note how Big Piney River tributaries from the east are generally oriented in northwest directions. Named Big Piney River tributaries from south to north are Hog Creek and its Dog Creek tributary, Indian Creek and its Johnson Branch tributary, Brushy Creek, and Devils Hollow and Flat Rock Hollow which drain to Arthur Creek (shown, but not named just west of Devils Hollow). East of the Big Piney River-Current River drainage divide a very different drainage pattern prevails. Major tributaries to the southeast oriented Current River flow in northeast directions and are joined by short southeast and east oriented tributaries. North and northeast-oriented Gregory Hollow joins east- and northeast-oriented South Ashley Creek in the figure 9 northeast quadrant. The north oriented Gregory Hollow valley segment was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a beheaded south oriented flood flow route. Note north and northwest oriented Gregory Hollow tributaries from the east and south, which flow in valleys eroded by reversals of flood flow on north and northwest ends of beheaded flood flow routes. Big Creek flows in a northeast and east direction from the figure 9 south edge (east of center) to the figure 9 east edge (south of center). Note how Big Creek has southeast-oriented tributaries including Pond Spring Branch and Bradford Cave Hollow and also east-oriented tributaries such as Hobbs Branch. Note how Hobbs Branch has a southeast-oriented tributary from the north and a north-oriented tributary and north-oriented headwaters. The southeast-oriented tributaries suggest headward erosion of the Big Creek valley captured south and southeast oriented flood flow and the north-oriented tributaries and headwaters suggest flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented tributary valleys. Figure 10  provides a detailed topographic map (with contour lines) of the Indian Creek (and Johnson Branch)-Big Creek drainage divide area to illustrate shallow through valleys crossing present day drainage divides.

Detailed map of Indian Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Indian Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 10 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the Indian Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Indian Creek flows in a northwest direction from section 35 to the figure 10 north edge and then flows in a west direction to the northwest corner. North and west of the figure 10 northwest corner Indian Creek flows in a northwest direction to join the north-oriented Big Piney River. Johnson Branch flows in a northwest direction from sections 34 and 33 to the figure 10 west edge (south of northwest corner) and joins Indian Creek just west of the figure 10 northwest corner. Hog Creek flows in a west-northwest direction across the figure 10 southwest corner and is joined by northwest-oriented Little Hog Creek in the southwest corner area. North of Hog Creek is west-oriented Dog Creek, which flows from section 2 (west half) to the figure 10 west edge and which joins Hog Creek west of figure 10. Big Creek flows in a north and northeast direction from the figure 10 south edge (east of center) and then turns to flow in an east-southeast and east-northeast direction to the figure 10 east edge (south half). East of figure 10 Big Creek flows in a northeast direction to join the southeast-oriented Current River. Near the section 36 southwest corner a northwest-southeast oriented through valley links the northwest-oriented Indian Creek headwaters valley with the valley of a southeast-oriented Big Creek tributary. The map contour interval is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 1360 and 1380 feet. Elevations near the section 36 northeast corner rise to more than 1480 feet and in the north half of section 2 to more than 1460 feet. The through valley was eroded by southeast-oriented flood flow moving to what was then the actively eroding Big Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded southeast-oriented Current River valley. At that time the deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley did not exist and flood waters were flowing in south and southeast directions across the region. Headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Big Piney River valley beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow and flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Indian Creek valley. Shallow north-south oriented through valleys near south margins of sections 33 and 34 link the west-oriented Dog Creek valley with the northwest-oriented Indian Creek and Johnson Branch valleys. These shallow through valleys were probably eroded by yet to be beheaded flood flow moving to newly beheaded and reversed flood flow routes and provide evidence of more still more complicated and complex flood flow movements.

Additional information and sources of maps studied

This essay has provided only a sample of the detailed topographic map evidence supporting the flood erosion interpretation. Many additional illustrations could be provided. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of available data. Maps used in this study were created and published by the United States Geologic Survey and can be obtained directly from the United States Geological Survey and/or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories which are located throughout the United States and elsewhere. Illustrations used here were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital map data. TOPO software and map data can be obtained from the National Geographic Society and/or dealers offering National Geographic Society digital map data.

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