Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline County, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to determine Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline County, Missouri. Saline County is bounded on the north and east by the east-northeast and south-southeast oriented Missouri River while the east-oriented Blackwater River flows across southern Saline County to join the Missouri River east of the study region. Salt Fork is a major north, east, and south-southeast oriented Blackwater River tributary in Saline County and has north-oriented tributaries. North-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys. North and east of Salt Fork south-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with north-oriented (and often barbed) Missouri River tributary valleys. In addition north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Shallow through valleys crossing present day drainage divides, elbows of capture, valley alignments and locations, and similar evidence suggest all study region valleys, including the Missouri River valley, eroded headward in sequence from south to north across south-oriented flood flow channels such as might be found in an anastomosing channel complex. North-oriented valleys and valley segments were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located north of the study 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 Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline County, 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 a link 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 Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform evidence in Saline County, 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.

Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Missouri River-Blackwater 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.

 

Figure 1 is a location map for the Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area in Saline County, Missouri and shows a large region of the state of Missouri with Kansas being located to the west and Illinois to the east. The Mississippi River flows in a south-southeast direction between Missouri and Illinois in the figure 1 northeast quadrant. The Missouri River forms the Missouri-Kansas border between the figure 1 northwest corner and Kansas City. From Kansas City the Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick and then turns to flow in a southeast, south, east, and southeast direction to Jefferson City. Downstream from Jefferson City the Missouri River flows in an east-northeast, southeast, and northeast direction to join the south-oriented Mississippi River just east of the figure 1 east edge. The Blackwater River is located near the figure 1 center (east of Warrensburg and south of Marshall) and flows in a north, east-northeast, and east direction to join the Missouri River east of the town of Blackwater. Note how the east-oriented Blackwater River joins the Missouri River at the elbow of capture where the Missouri River turns from flowing in a south direction to flowing in an east direction. The Missouri River-Blackwater drainage divide area in Saline County is located north of the Blackwater River, south and west of the Missouri River, and east of the town of Waverly. Note how north of the Saline County region the southeast and south-oriented Grand River joins the Missouri River at the elbow of capture where the Missouri River changes from flowing in an east-northeast direction to flowing in a southeast and south direction. Also note south of the Blackwater River the Osage River flows from the Harry S. Truman Reservoir to the Lake of the Ozarks and then in a northeast direction to join the Missouri River just east of Jefferson City. Essays describing nearby drainage divides can be found listed under Missouri and/or MO Missouri River on the sidebar category list.
  • Based on topographic map evidence illustrated and described in this essay and also illustrated and described in essays for hundreds of other Missouri River drainage basin drainage divide areas the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) was eroded by massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods prior to and during the time period when headward erosion of deep valleys created the present day Missouri River valley and its tributary valleys. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, which at the time the Missouri River valley eroded headward across the figure 1 map area was located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet was large, probably as large in extent and thickness as the modern Antarctic Ice Sheet, and was located in a deep “hole”. The deep “hole” was formed by crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s great weight and by deep glacial erosion of the underlying bedrock. The Ozark Plateau south of the figure 1 map area may have been uplifted in response to ice sheet related (perhaps delayed) crustal warping and may represent a remnant of the deep “hole’s” southern rim, much of which was destroyed by massive melt water flood erosion. Initially the glacial melt water overwhelmed whatever drainage system existed and melt water floods flowed south across the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) directly to the Gulf of Mexico. Headward erosion of the deep Mississippi River valley and its tributary valleys (from the Gulf of Mexico) systematically captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters to what was then a rapidly growing and evolving Mississippi River valley system. Tributary valleys eroded headward from the actively eroding Mississippi River in sequence from south to north and west of the Mississippi River valley also from east to west. For example, south of the figure 1 map area, in the state of Arkansas, headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys occurred prior to headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented White River valley and its tributary valleys.
  • Following White River valley headward erosion south-oriented tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded White River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow routes into southern Missouri. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley and its east and northeast-oriented Osage River tributary valley next beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding White River tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode what are today north-oriented Missouri River and Osage River tributary valleys. This massive flood flow reversal progressed from east to west and may have been greatly aided by Ozark Plateau uplift, which may have occurred as flood waters were flowing across the region. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley and its Blackwater River tributary valley next beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Osage River valley and actively eroding Osage River tributary valleys. The north-oriented Blackwater River headwaters valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a beheaded flood flow route. Continued headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley next beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Blackwater River valley and to actively eroding Blackwater River tributary valleys. Following Missouri River valley headward erosion south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow routes. For example, note how the southeast and south-oriented Grand River has several south-oriented tributaries, which flow in valleys initiated as south-oriented flood flow channels which were then captured by headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Grand River valley.

Detailed location map for Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 2 provides a more detailed location map for the Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area in Saline County. County names and boundaries are shown. The Missouri River meanders in an east-northeast direction from the figure 2 west center edge between Ray and Lafayette Counties and then between Carroll and Saline Counties before turning to flow in a southeast direction between Chariton and Saline Counties and then in a south-southwest direction between Saline and Howard Counties. Next the Missouri River flows in an east-southeast direction between Howard and Cooper before turning to flow in a south-southeast direction to the figure 2 southeast corner. The Blackwater River is formed near the figure 2 southwest corner at the confluence of its North and South Forks and then flows in an east-northeast direction to the Johnson County northeast corner and then across southern Saline County to join the Missouri River in northwest Cooper County. Major Blackwater River tributaries of interest in this essay include Davis Creek and Salt Fork. Davis Creek flows in an east direction across most of southern Lafayette County and joins the Blackwater River near Sweet Springs in the Saline County southwest corner. Salt Fork originates as a north-oriented stream near Alma in eastern Lafayette County and then turns to flow in an east direction across northwest Saline County until north of Marshall it turns to flow in a southeast direction to join the Blackwater River near Nelson in the Saline County southeast corner area. Muddy Creek is a south-southwest oriented Salt Fork tributary located east of Van Meter State Park in the region north of Marshall. Note how Salt Fork in northwest Saline County flows very near the meandering, but east-northeast oriented Missouri River, yet the two drainage routes diverge to follow different routes. Also note how Muddy Creek flows in a south-southwest direction while the adjacent Missouri River segment is oriented in a northeast direction. Van Meter State Park is located along the Missouri River valley east wall and the distance between the south-southwest oriented Muddy Creek valley and the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley is much less than it appears on figure 2. The Muddy Creek valley was eroded headward along a south-oriented flood flow route prior to headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley, while the adjacent northeast-oriented Missouri River valley segment was eroded by reversed flood flow along the north end of a beheaded flood flow route. The north-oriented Salt Fork valley and other north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys were also eroded by reversed flood flow on the north ends of beheaded flood flow routes, which were beheaded by Salt Fork valley headward erosion prior to Missouri River valley headward erosion. Missouri River valley headward erosion ultimately beheaded and reversed what had been south-oriented flood flow routes west of the actively eroding Salt Fork valley head to create what is today the north-oriented Tabo Creek valley system.

Salt Fork-Davis Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 3 illustrates the Salt Fork-Davis Creek drainage divide area in eastern Lafayette County and western Saline County. The north-south oriented Lafayette-Saline County line is located just west of the figure 3 center. Blackburn is the town located on the county line near the figure 3 center. Alma is the town located west of Blackburn and Corder is the town west of Alma and near the figure 3 west center edge. East of Blackburn on the railroad is Mt Leonard and then Salt Springs with Shackleford being near the figure 3 east center edge. Davis Creek flows in an east and southeast direction near the south edge of the figure 3 southwest quadrant. Note southeast-oriented Davis Creek tributaries in the figure 3 southwest quadrant including Dyer Rock Creek and Brushy Creek. Salt Pond Creek is a south and southwest-oriented Davis Creek tributary in the figure 3 southeast quadrant and south center area and joins Davis Creek south of the figure 3 map area just before Davis Creek joins the east oriented Blackwater River, which is located south of the figure 3 map area. Jordan Creek is a south-southeast oriented Salt Pond Creek tributary in the figure 3 south center area and Pony Creek is the southwest-oriented Salt Pond Creek flowing through the Blind Pony State Wildlife Management Area. Salt Fork flows in an east direction from near Corder to near Alma and then turns to flow in a north and then east-northeast direction to the figure 3 north center edge and flows in an east direction north of the figure 3 northeast quadrant. The east- and northeast oriented Missouri River valley is located just a short distance north of the figure 3 map area. Note how Salt Fork has northeast and north oriented tributaries including Elm Branch, Pass Branch, Bear Creek, and Salt Branch. Also note how the north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Davis Creek (and Salt Pond Creek) tributary valleys. The map contour interval is 10 meters and the deeper through valleys are defined by at least two contour lines on each side. The through valleys provide evidence of what were once multiple south-oriented flood flow routes to what were at that time actively eroding south-oriented Davis Creek (and Salt Pond Creek) tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Blackwater River valley. Headward erosion of the Salt Fork valley then beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes in sequence (from east to west) and flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes eroded north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley north of the figure 3 map area soon thereafter beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes.

Detailed map of Pass Creek-Jordan Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Pass Creek-Jordan 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 Pass Creek-Jordan Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Blackburn is the town located in the west center area and Mt Leonard is the town in the northeast corner. Elm Branch flows in a north-northeast direction across the figure 4 northwest corner and is joined there by north and northwest-oriented East Fork Elm Branch (which originates in the Blackburn region). Pass Creek originates in the section 28 northwest corner and flows in a northeast direction across section 21 to the section 15 southwest corner and then flows in a north direction to the figure 4 north edge. North of figure 4 Pass Creek flows in a northeast direction to join east-oriented Salt Fork. North-oriented drainage originating near Mt Leonard flows to Pass Creek. South-oriented streams flowing to the south edge of the figure 4 southwest quadrant are Jordan Creek headwaters. South-oriented streams flowing to the south edge of the figure 4 southeast quadrant are Salt Pond Creek tributaries. South of the figure 4 map area Jordan Creek and Salt Pond Creek flow to Davis Creek, which then joins the east-oriented Blackwater River. What is noteworthy of the Salt Fork-Blackwater River drainage divide seen in figure 4 is the shallow through valleys eroded across the drainage divide linking north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys with south-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys. For example, in the east half of section 29 a through valley links the northeast-oriented Pass Creek headwaters valley with a south-oriented Jordan Creek headwaters valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 790 and 800 feet. Elevations in the section 23 northeast corner and section 24 northwest corner south of Mt Leonard (near the figure 4 east edge) rise to at least 860 feet and elevations in section 30 south of Blackburn rise to more than 870 feet. Between those two high points elevations along the drainage divide are lower, although the section 29 through valley is the lowest elevation along the drainage divide. Other lower elevation channels crossing the drainage divide with slightly higher floor elevations can be found in the section 23 region and link a north- and northwest-oriented Pass Creek tributary valley with a south-oriented Salt Pond Creek headwaters valley. The deepest of these through valleys is located in the section 23 southwest corner and has a floor elevation of between 800 and 810 feet, although several slightly higher floored channels are also located in section 23. The deeper through valleys mentioned here represent what were deeper channels eroded into the floor of a much broader north-south oriented flood flow channel to what was then the actively eroding Blackwater River valley and its tributary valleys. At that time the Salt Fork valley (and the Missouri River valley) to the north did not exist and flood waters could freely move south to and across the drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep Salt Fork valley, which was soon followed by Missouri River valley headward erosion, beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow routes to erode the north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys.

Salt Fork-Blackwater River drainage divide area

Figure 5: Salt Fork-Blackwater River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 5 illustrates the Salt Fork-Blackwater River drainage divide area east of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Marshall is the large town located in the figure 5 east half. Mt Leonard is the smaller town located north of the figure 5 west center area. Salt Fork flows in an east direction from the northwest corner along the figure 5 north margin until turning to flow in an east-southeast and then south and southeast direction to the figure 5 east edge (south half). Pass Creek is a north-northeast oriented Salt Fork tributary in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. Salt Branch is an east and north-northeast oriented Salt Fork tributary in the figure 5 north center region. The east-oriented Blackwater River is located south of the figure 5 map area. Salt Pond Creek is the south-oriented stream south of Mt Leonard and is joined by south-southwest oriented Pony Creek near the figure 5 south edge (Pony Creek flows through the Blind Pony State Wildlife Management Area). The south-oriented drainage system west of the highway in the figure 5 southeast quadrant is the Finney Creek drainage system and consists of the south-oriented North Fork, the east and south-southeast oriented West Fork, and east-oriented Crooked Creek. Finney Creek joins the east-oriented Blackwater River south of the figure 5 map area. Note again how the north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with the south-oriented Blackwater tributary valleys. The north-south oriented through valleys crossing the Salt Fork-Blackwater River drainage divide provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to the actively eroding Blackwater River valley. At that time the Salt Fork valley did not exist nor did the Missouri River valley exist (north of the figure 5 map area). Headward erosion of the Salt Fork valley beheaded in sequence, from east to west, the south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Blackwater River valley and its actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Salt Fork tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley north of the figure 5 map area next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Salt Fork valley.

Detailed map of Salt Branch-Pony Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Detailed map of Salt Branch-Pony Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 6 shows a detailed topographic map of the Salt Branch-Pony Creek drainage divide area, which was seen in less detail in figure 5 above. The north-northeast oriented stream flowing from section 36 (near west edge) across section 30 to the figure 6 north edge in section 20 is Salt Branch and the north-oriented stream in section 21 is a Salt Branch tributary. North of the figure 6 map area Salt Branch flows to east-oriented Salt Fork as seen in figure 5. The west and south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the section 4 northwest corner to the figure 6 south edge (west half) is Pony Creek, which south and west of the figure 6 map area joins Salt Pond Creek, which then joins Davis Creek, which flows to the east-oriented Blackwater River. Note how multiple north-south oriented through valleys link north-oriented Salt Branch headwaters valleys with south-oriented Pony Creek headwaters valleys. Starting in the west near the corner of sections 1, 6, 31, and 36 a through valley links the north-northeast Salt Branch headwaters valley with a south-oriented Pony Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 760 and 770 feet. North and west of the through valley elevations rise to more than 850 feet in section 25. East of the through valley elevations rise to more than 840 feet in section 33. Another through valley can be seen in section 32 and links the south-oriented Pony Creek headwaters valley with a north-oriented Salt Branch tributary valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 780 and 790 feet. Another through valley with a comparable floor elevation is found in the section 33 southwest corner. In the west half of section 34 a through valley links a northwest-oriented Salt Branch tributary valley with the southeast-oriented headwaters valley of the West Fork Finney Creek. The section 33 through valley has a floor elevation of between 800 and 810 feet and elevations on either side rise to more than 840 feet. While these through valleys are only a few tens of feet deep they are water eroded features and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels such as might be found in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the Salt Fork valley north of the figure 6 map area beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow routes and the reversed flood flow then eroded the north-oriented valleys.

Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area

Figure 7: Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 7 illustrates the Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area north and east of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Slater is the larger town east of the figure 7 south center. Gilliam is the slightly smaller town located east of Slater. The Missouri River valley is oriented in a north-northeast direction across the figure 7 northwest corner and then in a southeast and south direction along the figure 7 northeast quadrant and east margin. Miami is the small town located on the south side of the Missouri River valley in the figure 7 northwest corner region. Note how the north-northeast oriented Missouri River segment has several short north- and northwest-oriented tributaries and the southeast and south oriented Missouri River valley segments have northeast-oriented (barbed) tributaries. Edmondson Creek in the figure 7 north center begins as a north-northwest oriented stream and then turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to join the southeast-oriented Missouri River near the figure 7 north center edge. Note how barbed Missouri River tributaries are linked by a southeast-oriented through valley west of the Missouri River valley. For example, north of Slater a north-oriented Edmondson Creek tributary valley is linked by a shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valley with the northeast-oriented Buck Creek valley, which in turn is linked by a shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valley with the northeast-oriented Bear Creek valley. This northwest-southeast oriented through valley (crossing the present day drainage divides) is evidence of a southeast-oriented flood flow channel which was dismembered by headward erosion of northeast-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Salt Fork is the east-southeast oriented stream flowing along the south margin of the figure 7 southwest quadrant and as seen in figure 2 is a Blackwater River tributary. Muddy Creek is the west and south-southwest stream just east of the north-northeast oriented Missouri River valley segment and joins Salt Fork just west of the figure 7 map area. While not shown in this essay west of the figure 7 map area the Missouri River valley is oriented in an east direction and the Salt Fork valley is located in places almost on the edge of the Missouri River valley, yet the two drainage routes diverge and flow along significantly routes before Salt Fork joins the Blackwater River, which then joins the Missouri River south and east of the figure 7 map area. Note in figure 7 how Muddy Creek is flowing in a south-southwest direction while the adjacent Missouri River is flowing in a north-northeast direction. These two adjacent drainage routes flowing in opposite directions are a relic of flood flow directions that existed as the deep Missouri River valley beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Salt Fork valley. The north-northeast oriented Missouri River valley was eroded by reversed flood flow, while the south-southwest oriented Muddy Creek valley was eroded headward along and across south-oriented flood flow routes.

Detailed map of Edmondson Creek-Muddy Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 8 shows a detailed topographic map of the Edmondson Creek-Muddy Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 7 above. The town of Miami is located just north of the figure 8 northwest corner. Muddy Creek flows in a west-southwest direction to the figure 8 southwest corner. Edmondson Creek flows in a north and north-northwest direction from near the figure 8 southeast corner to near the northeast corner where it turns to flow in a northeast direction to the north edge. North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 8 north center edge and to the north edge further west are tributaries to the Missouri River, which is located a short distance north of the figure 8 map area. Note how these various valleys are linked by shallow through valleys providing evidence of former flood flow routes. For example the through valley in the section 12 southwest quadrant which links an east-northeast oriented Edmondson Creek tributary valley with a southwest-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 730 and 740 feet. Elevations on either side of the through valley rise to more than 810 feet. While not as deep several through valleys can be seen linking the north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys with south and southeast-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valleys. These can be seen by following the drainage divide from the figure 8 west edge (south of center) in a northeast direction across sections 16, 9, 10, 11, and 12 and provide evidence of what were multiple south-oriented flood flow routes to what was at one time the newly eroded Muddy Creek valley (prior to headward erosion of the large Missouri River valley north of the figure 8 map area). At that time flood waters could freely move in a south direction to the figure 8 map area where headward erosion of the deep Muddy Creek valley was capturing the south-oriented flood flow. The north-oriented Edmondson Creek valley segment was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a beheaded flood flow route, which was beheaded by headward erosion of the northeast-oriented Edmondson Creek valley segment from the what was then the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. The northeast-oriented Edmondson Creek valley segment may have been eroded by reversed flood flow on the northeast end of a southwest-oriented flood flow channel being eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Salt Fork valley. When headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley beheaded the southwest-oriented flood flow route the reversed flood eroded the northeast-oriented Edmondson Creek valley segment, although other interpretations of the flood flow movements are possible.

Fish Creek-Camp Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 9 illustrates the Fish Creek-Camp Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 5 map area, south and east of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figures 5 and 7. Marshall is the large town near the figure 9 west edge. The Missouri River flows in a south direction in the figure 9 east half. Fish Creek is a north-northeast, east, and northeast oriented Missouri River tributary in the figure 9 northeast quadrant and flows to the Missouri River valley north of the figure 9 north edge and then flows in a south direction along the Missouri River valley west edge to join the Missouri River south of Saline City in the figure 9 east center area. South of Fish Creek is south and northeast-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek, which joins the south oriented Missouri River as a barbed tributary. South of the northeast-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek segment is northeast-oriented Wood Branch, which also joins the Missouri River as a barbed tributary. South of Wood Branch and the town of Arrow Rock (and Arrow Rock State Park) is southeast-oriented Slough Creek. Note how the northeast-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek valley segment and the northeast-oriented Wood Branch valley are linked by shallow through valleys with the southeast-oriented Slough Creek valley. The northeast-oriented barbed tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on northeast ends of beheaded flood flow routes to what was then the actively eroding southeast-oriented Slough Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. The Missouri River valley was being eroded headward along major south oriented flood flow routes and as it eroded headward in a north direction it beheaded diverging southwest-oriented flood flow channels to the actively eroding Slough Creek valley and the reversed flood flow then eroded the northeast-oriented Wood Creek and Pierre Fleche Creek valleys. The northeast-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek valley captured a major south-oriented flood flow route west of the actively eroding Missouri River valley, which accounts for the present day Pierre Fleche Creek elbow of capture. Salt Fork flows in an east-southeast, south-southeast, and southeast direction from the figure 9 west edge (north half) to the figure 9 south center edge. Camp Creek is a south- and southwest-oriented Salt Fork tributary originating south of the north-oriented Fish Creek headwaters and joining Salt Fork near Wilton Springs. South of the figure 9 map area Salt Fork joins the east-oriented Blackwater River, which joins the Missouri River south and east of the figure 9 map area. The north-oriented Fish Creek headwaters valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a south-oriented flood flow route to what was then the actively eroding Camp Creek valley.

Detailed map of Fish Creek-Camp Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 10 depicts a detailed topographic map of the Fish Creek-Camp Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Fish Creek originates in section 30 near the figure 10 center and flows in a north-northeast direction to the figure 10 north edge (east of center). North of the figure 10 north edge Fish Creek makes a jog in an east-southeast direction before turning to flow in a northeast direction again. North-oriented streams east of Fish Creek are Fish Creek tributaries, with the north-northwest oriented stream in section 21 joining Fish Creek at the southeast end of its east-southeast oriented valley segment. Camp Creek originates in section 25 and flows in an east and southeast direction to the figure 10 south center edge. The south-oriented stream originating in section 28 and flowing to the figure 10 south edge just west of the southeast corner is Pierre Fleche Creek. Note how the north-oriented Fish Creek headwaters and tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Camp Creek tributary valleys and with the south-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek headwaters valley. For example in section 30 a through valley links the north-northeast oriented Fish Creek headwaters valley with a south-oriented Camp Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet (except along the figure 10 east margin where the contour interval is 20 feet). The section 30 through valley floor elevation is between 790 and 800 feet. Elevations west of the through valley rise to more than 850 feet and east of the through valley to at least 830 feet. Another through valley in the section 29 southwest quadrant links a north-northeast oriented Fish Creek tributary valley with a south-southwest oriented Camp Creek tributary valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 810 and 820 feet. In the north half of section 28 a through valley links a north-northwest oriented Fish Creek tributary valley with the south-oriented Pierre Fleche Creek headwaters valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 760 and 780 feet and while not seen in figure 10 elevations to the east rise to at least 825 feet and as already noted elevations to the west rise even higher. The through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels moving flood waters to were at that time actively eroding valleys which had eroded headward from the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. When continued headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley beheaded and reversed flood flow routes so as to erode the northeast-oriented Fish Creek valley (north of figure 10) flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes in figure 10 reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented figure 10 valleys.

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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