Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

This essay uses topographic map interpretation methods to determine landform origins in the Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area located in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone Counties, Missouri. The Elk Fork Salt River is an east-oriented tributary to the east-oriented Salt River, which flows to the south oriented Mississippi River, and is located north of the south-southeast, southeast, and east oriented Missouri River, which also flows to the Mississippi River. North and northeast oriented Elk Fork Salt River tributary valleys are aligned with south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys suggesting headward erosion of the east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River valley and its northeast-oriented tributary valleys beheaded south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes to the what were then actively eroding south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Illustrated topographic maps follow the east side of south-oriented Perche Creek from the Elk Fork Salt River drainage divide area to the Missouri River to illustrate relationships between west-oriented Perche Creek valleys. U-turns made by both Elk Fork Salt River tributaries and Perche Creek tributaries, tributary valley orientations and alignments, shallow through valleys eroded across drainage divides, and similar evidence suggest the study region was eroded by immense south-oriented floods which were systematically captured by headward erosion of deep valleys into the region. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley initially captured the south-oriented flood flow, which was probably moving in a giant south-oriented complex of anastomosing flood flow channels. South-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys and their tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley north wall along the captured south-oriented flood flow channels until headward erosion of the Elk Fork Salt River valley and its tributary valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. North-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. Flood waters were derived from a decaying 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 Elk Fork Salt  River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone 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 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 Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform evidence in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone 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.

Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri 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 provides a location map for the Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone Counties, Missouri. The states of Missouri and Illinois and the south-southeast oriented Mississippi River which forms the Missouri-Illinois border are shown. The Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction from Kansas City, Missouri (near figure 1 west edge) to Brunswick and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to Jefferson City. From Jefferson City the Missouri River flows in an east direction to join the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. The Salt River is formed as south-southeast, east, and north oriented tributaries converge on the reservoir located upstream from Clarence Cannon Dam (located south and west of Hannibal, Missouri in the figure 1 northeast quadrant). From Clarence Cannon Dam the Salt River flows in a northeast and southeast direction to join the Mississippi River. Labeled south-southeast Salt River tributaries are the North Fork Salt River, which originates near Queen City, and the Middle Fork Salt River, which originates near La Plata. The labeled north oriented Salt River tributary is the South Fork Salt River, which originates south of Mexico, Missouri. Note the unlabeled north and east oriented South Fork Salt River tributary north of Centralia, which on more detailed maps is labeled as Long Branch. The unlabeled east-oriented Salt River tributary originating near Moberly is the Elk Fork Salt River and has northeast-oriented headwaters just east of Moberly. The Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone Counties is located south of the Elk Fork Salt River, east of the Elk Fork Salt River headwaters near Moberly, west of Long Branch (South Fork Salt River) headwaters, and north of the Missouri River. The unlabeled south-oriented tributary joining the Missouri River near Rocheport on more detailed maps is Moniteau Creek and the unlabeled tributary to the east and joining the Missouri River west and south of Columbia is Perche Creek. In this essay we will follow topographic map evidence south from the Moberly area along the east side of Perche Creek. Essays describing other nearby Missouri River drainage basin drainage divides areas can be found under Missouri or MO Missouri River on the sidebar category list.
  • Based on topographic map evidence presented in other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays as well as topographic map evidence presented in this essay the figure 1 map area was eroded by immense south-oriented melt water floods as present day drainage route valleys eroded headward into the region. 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, if not larger, than the modern Antarctic Ice Sheet and had been located in a deep “hole”. The deep “hole” had been formed by a combination of deep glacial erosion and of crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s weight. The figure 1 map region was probably located along the deep “hole’s” southern rim, although most topographic evidence of the southern rim was probably removed by deep melt water flood erosion. Initially melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage systems existed and flowed in a south direction across the figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) to the Gulf of Mexico. Headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Mississippi River valley and its deep tributary valleys from the Gulf of Mexico then captured much of the south-oriented flood water as flood waters deeply eroded regions south of the decaying ice sheet. Tributary valleys eroded headward from the actively eroding Mississippi River valley in sequence from south to north. For example, in the state of Arkansas, south of the figure 1 map area, headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys captured the south-oriented flood flow prior to headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented White River valley and its tributary valleys (which beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys). In the figure 1 map area headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley and its east and northeast-oriented Osage River tributary valley next beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded White River valley and its tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley west of Jefferson City (where the Osage River joins the Missouri River) next captured the south-oriented flood flow.
  • In the Randolph, Audrain, and Boone County, Missouri region, which is the study region for this essay headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Missouri River valley along the study region south edge first captured the massive south-oriented melt water flood flow. Deep south-oriented valleys then eroded headward from newly eroded Missouri River valley north wall along what were converging and diverging flood flow channels, which were part of an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of deep south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys was along the most successful of the south-oriented flood flow channels and as a result headward erosion of the deep valleys beheaded less successful diverging flood flow channels. At the same headward erosion of additional east-oriented Mississippi River tributary valleys north of the newly eroded Missouri River valley began to capture south-oriented flood flow to the actively eroding south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Salt River-Elk Fork Salt River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Perche Creek valley in the study region as well as flood flow routes further to the east. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow to erode north-oriented Salt River and Elk Fork Salt River tributary valleys. The north-oriented South Fork Salt River valley and the north-oriented Long Branch headwaters valley seen just east of the study region were eroded by reversed flood flow. The northeast-oriented Elk Fork Salt River headwaters valley in the study region was also eroded by reversed flood flow. In time headward erosion of other Salt River tributary valleys as well as headward erosion of south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys to the west of the study region beheaded all south-oriented flood flow to the study region.

Detailed location map for Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 2 shows a more detailed location map for the Elk Fork Salt River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Randolph, Audrain, and Boone Counties, Missouri. County boundaries and names are provided and the Missouri River flows from the figure 2 west center edge to the Howard County west edge and then along the Howard County west and south border before flowing along the Boone County southwest border to the figure 2 south edge. South of the figure 2 map area the Missouri River turns to flow in an east direction along the Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren County southern borders as seen in the figure 2 southeast quadrant. The Missouri River tributary of greatest interest in this essay is Perche Creek which originates near Renick in Randolph County (south of Moberly) and which flows in a south direction to the Boone County northwest corner and then across western Boone County to join the Missouri River near McBaine. Major Perche Creek tributaries from the east (from north to south) include south-oriented Lick Fork; north, northwest, and southwest oriented Silver Fork; southwest oriented Rocky Fork Creek; and southwest and northwest oriented Hinkson Creek. The only tributary shown from the west is south-oriented Callohan Creek. West of south-oriented Perche Creek is south-oriented Moniteau Creek, which also originates south of Moberly, but which flows in a south direction across eastern Howard County to join the Missouri River near Rocheport. East of Perche Creek are two shorter southwest-oriented Missouri River tributaries (located south of Columbia), with Little Bonne Femme Creek being located north and west of Bonne Femme Creek. The south-oriented stream forming the Boone-Calloway County border is Cedar Creek. North of these south-oriented Missouri River tributaries is the east-oriented Salt River drainage system. The Elk Fork Salt River originates west of Milton (north of Moberly) and flows in an east direction to Clarence Cannon Reservoir, which straddles the Monroe-Ralls County line. Coon Creek is the unlabeled northeast-oriented tributary joining the Elk Fork Salt River near Evansville on the Randolph-Monroe County border. Mulligan Creek is the north-northeast oriented tributary flowing from Middle Grove in southwest Monroe County (Galbreath Creek is westernmost of the northeast-oriented tributaries forming Mulligan Creek while Hardin Creek is the eastern tributary). Big Creek originates near Clark in southeast Randolph County and flows in a northeast direction to join north-oriented Saling Creek and to form north-northeast oriented Reese Fork which joins the Elk Fork Salt River south of Madison in western Monroe County. East of north-oriented Saling Creek are north-oriented headwaters of east-oriented Long Branch, which flows to the north-oriented South Fork Salt River. Note how South Fork Salt River tributary headwaters are often oriented in north directions. The north-oriented Salt River tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes.

Coon Creek-Perche Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 3 illustrates the Coon Creek-Perche Creek drainage divide area near Renick. Moberly is the large town straddling the figure 3 north edge. Renick is a much smaller town located on the highway south of Moberly. Clark is another small town located on the south edge of the figure 3 southeast quadrant and Higbee is the small town in the figure 3 southwest quadrant. The south-oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 south center edge south of Renick is Perche Creek, which will be followed south in the following figures. The south-oriented stream located just east of Higbee is Moniteau Creek, which as seen in figure 2 flows independently to the Missouri River. The southwest and west-oriented stream in the figure 3 northwest quadrant is Sweet Spring Creek which flows to the southwest oriented East Fork Little Chariton River, which joins the Middle Fork to form the south oriented Little CHariton River, which in turn flows to the Missouri River. The north-northeast oriented stream originating north of Renick and flowing to the figure 3 north edge (east of Moberly) is Coon Creek, which is a tributary to east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River, which is located a short distance north of the figure 3 northeast quadrant north edge. Big Creek is the northeast oriented stream originating near Clark and flowing to the figure 3 east edge (just south of center). East of the figure 3 map area Big Creek joins north-oriented Saling Creek to form north-northeast oriented Reese Fork, which also flows to the east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River. Between Coon Creek and Big Creek are northeast oriented Galbreath Creek (north) and Hardin Creek (south) which join to form northeast- and north-oriented Mulligan Creek, which is also an Elk Fork Salt River tributary. Note how the north-oriented Elk Fork Salt River and Sweet Spring Creek tributary valley heads are aligned with south-oriented Missouri River tributary valley heads. The closely spaced and roughly parallel south-oriented valleys suggests the deep valleys eroded headward along shallow flood flow channels in what was probably a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex.Headward erosion of the east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes in sequence from east to west and flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented valleys. Because flood flow routes were beheaded one at a time and from east to west reversed flood flow on newly beheaded flood flow routes could capture south-oriented flood water still moving west of the actively eroding Elk Fork Salt River valley head. Such captures provided water volumes required to erode the north-oriented valleys and also account for the northeast-oriented valleys. Headward erosion of the Elk Fork Salt River valley ended when headward erosion of the southwest-oriented East Fork Little Chariton River valley captured south-oriented flood flow routes further to the west.

Detailed map of Coon Creek-Perche Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 4 provides a detailed topographic map of the Coon Creek-Perche Creek drainage divide area near Renick, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. The south-oriented stream flowing to the figure 4 south center edge is Perche Creek. Note how in section 1 (near figure 4 west edge) Perche Creek headwaters are oriented in a north and northeast direction before turning to flow in an east, southeast, and south direction. The south-oriented stream originating in the figure 4 southwest corner is Little Perche Creek, which south of the figure 4 map area flows in a south direction to join south-oriented Perche Creek. What we are seeing in section 12 is headward erosion of the Perche Creek valley captured the south-oriented flood flow route that was eroding the south-oriented Little Perche Creek valley along a flood flow route west of the south-oriented Perche Creek valley. The north-oriented stream north of Renick and flowing to the figure 4 north edge (west of center) is Coon Creek and Galbreath Creek is the northeast and north-northeast oriented stream originating just east of Renick and flowing across section 32 to reach the figure 4 north edge (east of center). The north-oriented stream east of Galbreath Creek is a Galbreath Creek tributary as are the northeast-oriented streams flowing to the figure 4 east edge (north half). The northeast-oriented stream flowing to the figure 4 east edge (just south of center) is Hardin Creek. Note how the north-oriented Coon Creek headwaters valley and north-northeast oriented Galbreath Creek headwaters valley are aligned with the south-oriented Perche Creek headwaters valley. A close look at the drainage divide reveals a very shallow channel linking the north-oriented valleys with the south-oriented valley. While the drainage divide looks almost level there is a very gradual slope toward the east. In the Renick area the drainage divide elevation is generally in the 870-880 foot range (the map contour interval is ten feet), with elevations further west rising to more than 880 feet and elevations further east being between 860 and 870 feet. Some small regions higher than 880 feet can be found east of south-oriented Perche Creek near the boundary between sections 32 and 5. These slightly higher elevations suggest they are remnants of a higher surface which once extended across the entire drainage divide area to the west. If so the slightly lower drainage divide elevations between those isolated high spots and the prevailing 880 foot plus elevations further to the west document a south-oriented flood flow channel that was beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the Elk Fork Salt River-Coon Creek valley.

Saling Creek-Silver Fork drainage divide area

Figure 5: Saling Creek-Silver Fork drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 5 illustrates the Saling Creek-Siilver Fork drainage divide area south and east of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Clark is the small town located near the figure 5 northwest corner. Centralia is the large town located near the figure 5 east edge and Sturgeon is the town on the railroad line midway between Clark and Centralia. South-oriented Perche Creek is located just west of the figure 5 west edge and the south-oriented stream originating at Clark and flowing to the figure 5 west edge (just north of the southwest corner) is Lick Fork, which joins Perche Creek south and slightly west of the figure 5 southwest corner. Silver Fork is a north and west-southwest stream flowing in a north direction from south of the figure 5 map area toward Centralia and then turning to flow in a west-southwest direction to flow across the figure 5 south center region before crossing the figure 5 south edge (west half) to join Perche Creek south and slightly west of the figure 5 map area. Saling Creek is the north oriented stream flowing through Sturgeon and north of the figure 5 map area flows to north and northeast oriented Reese Fork, which flows to the Elk Fork Salt River. Note how Saling Creek headwaters flow in a south direction before making a U-turn south of Sturgeon to flow in a north direction. Grindstone Branch (which is a Silver Fork tributary) is the south-southwest oriented stream south of the Saling Creek U-turn and Thompson Branch is the southwest and south oriented Silver Fork tributary east of Grindstone Branch. Note how the Saling Creek U-turn valleys are aligned with south-oriented Grindstone Branch and Thompson Branch tributaries and headwaters. Headward erosion of the Elk Fork Salt River valley and its tributary northeast-oriented Reese Fork valley (north of the figure 5 map area) beheaded south-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Thompson Branch valley (on the Saling Creek alignment) and triggered a reversal of flood flow to erode the north oriented Saling Creek valley. The reversed flood flow captured the yet to be beheaded flood flow route immediately to the west (which was supplying flood water to the what was then the actively eroding Grindstone Branch valley) and created the Saling Creek headwaters U-turn. The north-oriented stream located east of Saling Creek is the north-oriented headwaters of north- and east-oriented Long Branch, which flows to the north-oriented South Salt River. The north-oriented stream flowing to the figure 5 northeast corner area is Galbreath Creek, which north and east of the figure 5 map area joins east-northeast oriented Youngs Creek, which in turn flows to east-oriented Long Branch. Note how the north-oriented Goodwater Creek headwaters (flowing to the figure 5 northeast corner) are aligned with the north-oriented Silver Fork headwaters (flowing from south of the figure 5 map area). South-oriented flood flow on the Goodwater Creek-Silver Fork (north-oriented headwaters) alignment was first captured by headward erosion of the west-southwest Silver Fork valley from the actively eroding Perche Creek valley (south and west of the figure 5 map area) and the resulting reversal of flood flow eroded the north-oriented Silver Fork headwaters valley. Next headward erosion of the east-oriented Long Branch-Youngs Creek valley north and east of the figure 5 map area beheaded and reversed the flood flow to erode the north-oriented Galbreath Creek valley.

Detailed map of Saling Creek-Thompson Branch drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 6 provides a detailed topographic map of the Saling Creek-Thompson Branch drainage divide area south of Sturgeon, which was seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Saling Creek originates just north of the figure 6 map area and flows in a south direction to the section 7 northwest quadrant and then begins a large U-turn so as to flow in southeast and the northeast direction before flowing in a north direction to the figure 6 north edge along the east edge of the Sturgeon urban area. Note the north-oriented Saling Creek tributaries flowing to the Saling Creek U-turn area. North of the figure 6 map area Saling Creek flows in a north direction to join north-and northeast-oriented Reese Fork, which then joins the east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River (which in turns flows to the Salt River, which is a Mississippi River tributary). South of the Saling Creek U-turn is southwest-oriented Thompson Branch, which south of the figure 6 map area joins southwest-oriented Silver Fork, which in turn joins south-oriented Perche Creek, which is a Missouri River tributary. In other words the Mississippi River-Missouri River drainage divide is located between north oriented tributaries to the Saling Creek U-turn and south-oriented tributaries to southwest-oriented Thompson Branch. Note how shallow through valleys link the north-oriented Saling Creek tributary valleys with the south-oriented Thompson Branch tributary and headwaters valleys. The map contour interval is 20 feet and one through valley can be seen in the south half of section 16 in the figure 6 east center area. The through valley links a north-oriented Saling Creek tributary valley (flowing to the north-oriented Saling Creek segment) with a south-oriented Thompson Branch headwaters valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 840 and 860 feet and elevations on either side rise to more than 860 feet. While not deep the through valley provides evidence of a south-oriented flood flow channel which moved south-oriented flood water to what was then the actively eroding Thompson Branch valley. The flood flow was reversed to erode the north-oriented Saling Creek valley when headward erosion of the east-oriented Elk Fork Salt River-Reese Fork valley beheaded the flood flow route. Further west near the corner of sections 17, 18, 19, and 20 another through valley links a north-oriented Saling Creek tributary valley with a southwest-oriented valley leading to south-oriented Grindstone Creek (not labeled in figure 6, but flowing in a south direction in section 25). Again the through valley floor elevation is between 840 and 860 feet while elevations on either side rise to more than 860 feet.

Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 7 illustrates the Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek drainage divide area located south and slightly west of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Hallsville is the town located just south of the figure 7 east center area. Perche Creek flows in a south direction near the figure 7 west edge. Silver Fork flows in a north direction along the figure 7 east edge and then turns to flow in a west-northwest direction across the figure 7 northeast corner area before turning to flow in west-southwest and south-southwest direction to join Perche Creek near the figure 7 southwest corner. Note other northwest and north-northwest oriented Silver Fork tributaries. The west-northwest stream originating near Hallsville and joining Silver Fork near the Pinnacles (in figure 7 center area north of the large strip mine area) is Kelley Branch. The south-southwest and south oriented stream originating east of Hallsville and flowing to the figure 7 south edge (south of Hallsville) is Hinkson Creek, which will be seen again in figure 9 and which is a Perche Creek tributary. Note how Hinkson Creek has northwest-oriented headwaters which are aligned with a south-oriented stream in the figure 7 southeast corner. That south-oriented stream is a tributary to south-oriented Cedar Creek, which is located just east of the figure 7 map area. Cedar Creek flows directly to the Missouri River (see figure 2). The map contour interval is ten meters and relief along drainage divides is low meaning shallow through valleys if they exist are difficult to identify. However, based on tributary valley orientations and alignments the following history of figure 7 drainage systems is suggested. First massive south-oriented flood flow moving across the figure 7 map area is captured in the south (south of figure 7) by headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley. South-oriented valleys then erode headward along major south-oriented flood flow routes from the newly eroded Missouri River north wall. East of the figure 7 map area the Cedar Creek valley eroded headward and a south-oriented tributary valley eroded headward into figure 7 southeast corner area along what was then a major south-oriented flood flow route. At the same time headward erosion of the deep Perche Creek valley and its southwest-oriented Hinkson Creek tributary valley was capturing south-oriented flood flow routes further to the west and eroded headward to capture the south-oriented flood flow route. Next headward erosion of the Silver Fork valley began to capture the south-oriented flood flow routes and flood waters on north and west ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north, northwest, and west-northwest Silver Creek tributary valleys. As the southwest-oriented Silver Creek valley eroded headward it beheaded the south-oriented flood flow route to what was then the actively eroding Cedar Creek tributary valley (in the figure 7 southeast corner) and flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Silver Creek headwaters valley.

Detailed map of Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek 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 Silver Fork-Hinkson Creek drainage divide area. The contour interval in the figure 8 north half is ten feet while in the figure 8 south half the contour interval is twenty feet. Silver Fork flows in a north direction in sections 16, 9, and 4 near the figure 8 east edge. North of the figure 8 map area Silver Fork turns to flow in a northwest, west-southwest, and south-southwest direction and all other north-oriented streams flowing to the figure 8 north edge are Silver Fork tributaries. Kelley Branch is the west-northwest oriented stream originating near Hallsville and flowing to the figure 8 west center edge (and is also a Silver Fork tributary). Silver Fork as seen in figure 7 eventually joins south-oriented Perche Creek, which then joins the Missouri River. The southwest-oriented stream originating in sections 7 and 8 and flowing to the figure 8 south edge south of Hallsville is Hinkson Creek, which south and west of figure 8 eventually joins south-oriented Perche Creek. Note how Hinkson Creek headwaters are aligned with various north-oriented Silver Fork tributaries and are linked by shallow through valleys crossing the drainage divide. For example between sections 8 and 9 a shallow through valley links a southwest oriented Hinkson Creek headwaters valley with a north-oriented Silver Fork tributary valley. The shallow through valley is defined by one 10-foot contour line on each side. Another shallow through valley can be seen between sections 7 and 8 with still another shallow through valley being located between section 7 and Hallsville. The through valleys are all shallow, but they exist and provide evidence of south- and southeast oriented flood flow to what was once the actively eroding Hinkson Creek valley. At that time the Silver Fork valley to the north did not exist. Headward erosion of the Silver Fork valley captured the southeast and south oriented flood flow and in the process flood waters on northwest and north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode northwest and north oriented Silver Creek tributary and headwaters valleys.

Hinkson Creek-Little Bonne Femme Creek drainage divide area

Figure 9: Hinkson Creek-Little Bonne Femme Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 9 illustrates the Hinkson Creek-Little Bonne Femme Creek drainage divide area south and slightly west of the figure 7 map (there is a gap between figures 7 and 9). The Missouri River flows in a south-southeast direction across the figure 9 southwest corner. Perche Creek flows in a south direction in the south-oriented valley extending from the figure 9 north edge to join the Missouri River valley at McBain in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. Hinkson Creek flows in a south-southwest direction from the figure 9 north edge (east half) along the eastern edge of the Columbia urban area and then turns to flow in a west-southwest direction just south of the Columbia urban area to join south-oriented Perche Creek just west of the small town of Turner. The southwest, west-northwest, and north oriented tributary joining Hinkson Creek at Turner is Mill Creek. Several southwest-oriented Hinkson Creek tributaries can be seen in the figure 9 northeast quadrant. The southwest, west-southwest, and south oriented Missouri River tributary flowing through Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is Little Bonne Femme Creek. Note how south-oriented Little Bonne Femme Creek tributary valleys west of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park are linked by shallow through valleys with north-oriented Mill Creek tributary valleys. The tributary valley orientations and the through valley provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels to what was once the actively eroding south-oriented Little Bonne Femme Creek valley, which were beheaded by headward erosion of Perche Creek-Hinkson Creek-Mill Creek valley. The southwest-oriented stream located east of Little Bonne Femme Creek is Bonne Femme Creek. Both Little Bonne Femme Creek and Bonne Femme Creek join the south-southeast oriented Missouri River south of the figure 9 map area. The Missouri River valley in this figure 9 map region probably eroded headward along a what was at that time a major south-southeast oriented flood flow channel in a giant complex of south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels. The southwest-oriented Bonne Femme Creek valley eroded headward from the actively eroding and deep Missouri River valley to capture south-oriented flood flow. As the Missouri River valley head eroded further to the north-northwest the Little Bonne Femme valley next eroded headward to capture south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Bonne Femme Creek valley. Next headward erosion of the Perche Creek-Hinkson Creek-Mill Creek valley eroded headward to capture the south-oriented flood flow with the north-oriented Mill Creek valley segment being eroded by a reversal of flood flow. Headward erosion of the Hinkson Creek valley next beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Mill Creek valley and the process was repeated over and over again as the Perche Creek valley eroded headward and additional tributary valleys eroded headward from it.

Detailed map of Hinkson Creek-Little Bonne Femme Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 10 provides a detailed topographic map of the Hinkson Creek-Little Bonne Femme Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. West-southwest oriented Hinkson Creek can be seen near the north edge of the figure 10 northwest quadrant. West-oriented Grindstone Creek seen near the north edge of the figure 10 northeast quadrant is a Hinkson Creek tributary and has developed a number of incised meanders. I suspect the incised meanders are related to the massive south-oriented floods which crossed the region, although I will not attempt to explain incised meanders in this essay. Mill Creek originates in the figure 10 north center region and flows in a west-southwest and west-northwest direction to the figure 10 west edge (north half) and west of the figure 10 map area turns to flow in a north direction to join Hinkson Creek. The west-southwest oriented stream flowing through Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in the figure 10 southeast quadrant and south center area is Little Bonne Femme Creek, which south of the figure 10 map area turns to flow in a south direction to join the south-southeast oriented Missouri River. The southwest-oriented tributary flowing from the highway interchange area near the figure 10 east edge (northeast quadrant) and joining Little Bonne Femme Creek in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is Clear Creek. Note how in section 35 near the figure 10 center a west-northwest oriented Mill Creek valley segment is linked by a shallow through valley with a south-southwest-oriented Little Bonne Femme Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation at its deepest point is between 720 and 730 feet. Elevations just west of the highway interchange in the figure 10 northwest quadrant rise to more than 810 feet. Near the east center edge of section 3 on the west side of south-southwest oriented Little Bonne Femme Creek valley elevations rise to at least 770 feet. West of south-oriented Perche Creek (which is west of the figure 10 map area) elevations rise to more than 810 feet. Depending on which adjacent elevations are used the through valley linking the Mill Creek valley with the Little Bonne Femme Creek valley ranges from 40 to 90 feet deep (or deeper) and can either be considered a relatively narrow south-oriented through valley or a much broader south-oriented valley. In either case the through valley provides evidence of what was a major south-oriented flood flow channel which was dismembered as it was captured first by headward erosion of the deep Little Bonne Femme Creek valley, next by headward erosion of the deep Mill Creek valley, and then again by headward erosion of the deep Hinkson Creek valley. This dismemberment process continued as additional southwest-oriented Perche Creek tributary valleys captured the south-oriented flood flow further to the north.

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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