Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area landform origins in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam Counties, Missouri, USA

· Chariton River, Missouri, MO Missouri River
Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map evidence is used to interpret Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area landform origins in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam Counties, Missouri. Locust Creek is a stream which originates in southern Iowa, just north of the Missouri state line, and which flows in a south direction across western Putnam County, west-central Sullivan County, and western Linn County to join the south-oriented Grand River south of the study region. The Grand River then flows to the Missouri River. The Chariton River also originates in southern Iowa and flows in an east and southeast direction north of the Locust Creek headwaters before turning to flow in a south direction along the Putnam County eastern border, across west-central Adair County, and western Macon County to join the Missouri River south of the study region. The Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide in Putnam County is an asymmetric drainage divide with multiple southeast-oriented Chariton River tributaries originating near the south-oriented Locust Creek valley. East of the south-oriented Putnam County Chariton River valley is a similar asymmetric drainage divide between the south-oriented Chariton River and multiple headwaters of southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributaries. Further south the Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area is drained by closely spaced and roughly parallel south-oriented Locust Creek and Chariton River tributaries. The multiple south-oriented valleys in the Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area south of Putnam County are interpreted to have formed as deep valleys eroded headward along channels in what was at that time a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. The southeast-oriented tributary valleys in Putnam County are interpreted to have been eroded as deep valleys eroded headward along channels in what was at that time an evolving southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which was capturing south-oriented flood flow to the south-oriented anastomosing channel complex and which was captured by headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Chariton River valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes valley orientations, barbed tributaries, asymmetric drainage divides, and shallow trough valleys eroded across drainage divides.

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 Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area landform origins in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam 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 Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area landform evidence in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair and Putnam 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.

Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Locust Creek-Chariton 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 Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area located in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam Counties, Missouri. Missouri is labeled and occupies much of the figure 1 map area. Iowa is north of Missouri, Illinois is east of the south oriented Mississippi River, which forms the Iowa and Missouri eastern border. Kansas is west of Missouri along the figure 1 west edge. The Missouri River flows along the Missouri-Kansas border from the figure 1 west edge to Kansas City and then in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick. At Brunswick the Missouri River turns to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 1 south edge where it turns to flow in an east direction to join the south-oriented Mississippi River along the figure 1 east edge. South of figure 1 the Mississippi River flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The Grand River is a south, southeast, and south oriented Missouri River tributary originating near Afton, Iowa (along figure 1 north edge-west half) to join the Missouri River near Brunswick. Major Grand River tributaries from west to east are the south-southeast oriented Thompson River and its south-oriented Weldon River tributary, south-oriented Medicine Creek, and south-oriented Locust Creek. Locust Creek originates near the Iowa-Missouri state line in the figure 1 north center area and flows in a south direction to join the Grand River north of Brunswick. The unlabeled south-oriented Grand River tributary located east of Locust Creek and joining the Grand River downstream from where Locust Creek joins the Grand River is Yellow Creek (really West Yellow Creek for most of the distance shown except near the Grand River). The Chariton River originates just south of the figure 1 north edge and south of Osceola, Iowa and flows in an east and southeast direction in southern Iowa (and north of the south-oriented Weldon River, Medicine Creek, and Locust Creek headwaters) to the Iowa-Missouri state line and then flows in a south and south-southwest direction to join the Missouri River south of Keytesville, Missouri (located a short distance east of Brunswick). A major south-oriented Chariton River tributary from the west is south-oriented Mussel Fork, which joins the Chariton River near Keytesville. The Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam Counties, Missouri is bounded on the north by the Iowa-Missouri state line, on the east by the Chariton River, on the west by Locust Creek, and in the south by the towns of Laclede, Brookfield, and Marcelline. The Grand River-Chariton River drainage divide area landform origins in Chariton County, Missouri essay describes drainage divide areas to the south and the Chariton River and tributary drainage area landform origins in Appanoose County, Iowa essay and the Chariton River-Grand River drainage divide area landform origins in Lucas, Decatur, and Wayne Counties, Iowa essay describe drainage divide areas to the north. Essays can be located under Chariton River on the sidebar category list.
  • Topographic map evidence presented in this essay and in other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays suggests the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) was deeply eroded by massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, the southern margin of which at the time the figure 1 map area drainage systems were formed was located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet had been large, probably comparable in size if not larger than the present day Antarctic Ice Sheet. Further, the ice sheet had been located in a deep “hole”. The deep “hole” had been created by deep glacial erosion and crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s great weight, although topographic evidence of the deep “hole’s” southern rim has almost completely been removed by deep melt water flood erosion. No topographic markers are left to show how much material was removed from the figure 1 map area, which probably was located along the deep “hole’s” southern rim. When the ice sheet’s melt down history began massive south-oriented melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage systems existed and flowed directly south across the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) directly to the Gulf of Mexico. Deep south-oriented valleys then began to erode headward from the Gulf of Mexico to capture the south-oriented flood flow. The most successful of these south-oriented valleys was the Mississippi River valley, which with its extensive tributary valley system progressively captured the south-oriented flood flow. South of the figure 1 map area in the state of Arkansas the southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward to capture south-oriented flood flow prior to headward erosion of the southeast-oriented White River valley and its tributary valleys. In Missouri, the Missouri River valley and its east and northeast oriented tributary Osage River valley (located south of the figure 1 map area) next captured the south-oriented flood flow and in so doing caused major flood flow reversals to erode north-oriented Missouri River and Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley (north of the newly eroded Osage River valley) next captured the south-oriented flood flow and south-oriented valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley to create the south-oriented Missouri River tributaries seen in the figure 1 map area.

Detailed location map for Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area

Figure 2: Detailed location map for Locust Creek-Chariton 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 Locust Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area in Linn, Macon, Sullivan, Adair, and Putnam Counties, Missouri. The county names and boundaries are shown and the west to east oriented Iowa-Missouri state line is located along the Putnam County north border near the figure 2 north edge. The Chariton River originates north of the figure 2 map area and flows in an east direction before gradually turning to flow in a south direction along the Putnam-Schuyler County border and across Adair County (west of Thousand Hills State Park) and then across Macon County to eventually join the Missouri River south of the figure 2 map area. Note how in Putnam County Chariton River tributaries are oriented in a southeast direction and east of the Chariton River in Schuyler County and eastern Adair County are headwaters of multiple southeast-oriented streams. The southeast-oriented streams originating just east of the south oriented Chariton River and flowing to the figure 2 east edge are Mississippi River tributaries and are probably flowing in valleys eroded headward from the deep Mississippi River valley along channels in what was at that time a southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the deep south oriented Chariton River valley from the actively eroding Missouri River valley beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow channels and diverted the flood flow in a south direction to the newly eroded Missouri River valley. Volumes of flood water moving across the region had to be great enough because there were massive floods moving in a southeast direction to the actively eroding Mississippi River valley and also massive floods  moving in a south direction to the actively eroding Missouri River valley. The Chariton River-Mississippi River drainage divide seen in figure 2 probably was formed as headward erosion of the two deep valleys competed with each other to capture the immense south- and southeast-oriented flood flow. Flowing in a south direction from the Green Castle area in eastern Sullivan County, just east of the Sullivan-Adair County line is Mussel Fork, which flows in south direction along the Linn-Macon County line and which south of the figure 2 map area is a Chariton River tributary. Mussel Fork represents the westernmost of the Chariton River tributaries shown on the figure 2 map. Between Mussel Fork and the Chariton River in southwest Adair County and western County are other south-oriented Chariton River tributaries.
  • Locust Creek originates a short distance north of the figure 2 map area in Iowa and flows in a south direction just of east of Midway in western Putnam County. From Putnam County Locust Creek flows in a south direction across west-central Sullivan County and into western Linn County where it flows through Pershing State Park before reaching the figure 2 south edge. South of figure 2 Locust Creek flows to the southeast and south oriented Grand River, which in turn flows to Missouri River. Note how east of south-oriented Locust Creek in Putnam County are headwaters of southeast-oriented Chariton River tributaries, suggesting headward erosion of the south-oriented Locust Creek valley also beheaded southeast oriented flood flow channels in what had been a southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex. East Locust Creek is a south-oriented Locust Creek tributary in Sullivan County and represents the easternmost of the labeled Locust Creek tributaries shown in figure 2. Between East Locust Creek in Sullivan County and Locust Creek in Linn County and the south-oriented Mussel Fork are several south-oriented streams flowing to southwest-oriented Yellow Creek, which is located south of the figure 2 map area and which flows to the south-oriented Grand River. Among these Yellow Creek tributaries are south-oriented East and West Yellow Creeks. Note how all major drainage routes in Linn, Macon, Sullivan (except northeast corner area), and southwest Adair Counties are oriented in south directions and flow roughly parallel to each other. This south-oriented drainage pattern appears to have evolved as deep valleys eroded headward along channels in what was at that time an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Flood waters were probably flowing to the actively eroding Missouri River valley. This south-oriented anastomosing channel complex was beheaded in the Putnam County area (including northwest Adair County and Sullivan County northeast corner) by headward erosion of an equally immense southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex supplying flood waters to the Mississippi River valley. Present day drainage routes evolved as deep valleys eroded headward along channels in these two competing anastomosing channel complexes to capture the massive flood flow.

Locust Creek-East Yellow Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 3 illustrates the Locust Creek-East Yellow Creek drainage divide area in Linn County. Brookfield is the large town straddling the figure 3 south edge. West of Brookfield in the figure 3 southwest quadrant is Laclede and in the southeast corner area is St Catherine. The town in the figure 3 northwest quadrant is Linneus. Locust Creek flows in a south direction along the figure 3 west edge and south of the figure 3 southwest corner joins the south oriented Grand River. The south and south-southwest oriented stream directly east of Linneus is Muddy Creek, which south of the figure 3 southwest corner joins Locust Creek. East of Muddy Creek is south-oriented Turkey Creek, which flows to the figure 3 south edge just east of Laclede. South of the figure 3 map area Turkey Creek flows to southwest and west oriented Yellow Creek, which then flows to the Grand River. East of Turkey Creek is south and south-southeast oriented Long Branch, which joins West Yellow Creek near Brookfield. West Yellow Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream joining Long Branch near Brookfield. The south-oriented stream located along the figure 3 east margin is East Yellow Creek. South of the figure 3 map area East and West Yellow Creeks join to form southwest and west oriented Yellow Creek, which flows to the south-oriented Grand River. Note how the figure 3 map area is crossed by multiple closely spaced and roughly parallel south-oriented valleys. Tributaries to these south-oriented valleys are also primarily oriented in south directions and are parallel to the valleys they join. What we see in figure 3 is a series of converging south-oriented valleys and by looking closely we also see occasional north and northwest tributaries flowing to those south-oriented valleys. For example in the Linneus area there are several north and northwest oriented tributaries to Locust Creek and to southwest-oriented Locust Creek tributaries. East of Linneus a south and west oriented Turkey Creek tributary (Big Turkey Creek) has a northwest-oriented tributary. Further east in the figure 3 northeast quadrant West Yellow Creek has a northwest-oriented tributary and north of the reservoir located just north of the highway between Brookfield and St Catherine is a west-northwest oriented West Yellow Creek tributary. These and other such tributaries are barbed tributaries and provide evidence of what were once diverging flood flow channels which were beheaded by headward erosion of the present day deep valleys along south-oriented flood flow channels in what was at that time a large flood formed south-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which consisted of ever-changing diverging and converging south-oriented flood flow channels.

East Yellow Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area

Figure 4: East Yellow Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

  • Figure 4 illustrates the East Yellow Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area located east of the figure 3 map area. Ethel is the town in the figure 4 northeast quadrant and Bucklin is the town along the south edge of the figure 4 southwest quadrant. The Chariton River flows in a south direction in the large valley located along the figure 4 east edge. East Yellow Creek flows in a south direction near the figure 4 west edge. Mussel Fork is the south-oriented stream flowing from the figure 4 north center edge to the south center edge. Between Mussel Fork and the Chariton River is south-oriented Brush Creek, which south of the figure 4 map area flows to Mussel Fork. Between Brush Creek and the Chariton River in the figure 4 southeast quadrant is the Griffith Memorial State Wildlife Area. The south-oriented stream originating south of the Wildlife Area is Puzzle Creek, which south of the figure 4 joins the Chariton River. The north-oriented stream in the Wildlife Area is a tributary to south-southeast, north, and southeast oriented Palmer Creek, which is a Chariton River tributary. Note the north-south oriented through valley linking the north-oriented Palmer Creek valley with the south-oriented Puzzle Creek valley. The through valley provides evidence of what was once a diverging and converging flood flow channel, which was beheaded by headward erosion of the deep Chariton River valley. Flood waters on the north end of the diverging flood flow channel initially converged with another south-southeast oriented flood flow channel to flow south along the present day Puzzle Creek alignment. However, headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Chariton River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel from the east and flood waters on the north end of the channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Palmer Creek valley segment and the north-oriented Palmer Creek tributary valley. Evidence of diverging and converging flood flow channels can also be seen elsewhere on the figure 4 map. For example between Bucklin and Mussel Fork is south-oriented Van Dorsen Creek, which south of the figure 4 map area flows to Mussel Fork. The Van Dorsen Creek headwaters are linked by a shallow through valley with north-northeast oriented Clear Creek, which also flows to Mussel Fork. The Clear Creek-Van Dorsen Creek alignment was also initiated as a diverging and converging south-oriented flood flow channel, which was beheaded by headward erosion of the deep Mussel Fork valley. Again flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Clear Creek valley. In addition several of the East Yellow Creek tributaries from the east have northwest-oriented valley segments and/or tributaries providing further evidence the figure 4 map area was once crossed by an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which evolved into the present day figure 4 drainage network by headward erosion of deep south-oriented valleys from the deep Missouri River valley to the south.

Locust Creek-Mussel Fork drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 5 uses a reduced size topographic map to illustrate the Locust Creek-Mussel Fork drainage divide area north of the figure 3 map area (there is a gap between figure 3 and figure 5). Browning is the town near the figure 5 southwest corner. Milan is the town located along the north edge of the figure 5 northwest quadrant. The west to east oriented Sullivan-Linn County line is located near the figure 5 south edge. The south-oriented stream near the figure 5 west edge is Locust Creek. The south-oriented Locust Creek tributary flowing from Milan to join Locust Creek just north of Browning is East Locust Creek. The south-southwest oriented tributary joining East Locust Creek shortly before East Locust Creek joins Locust Creek is Little East Locust Creek. The south-oriented stream east of Little East Locust Creek and slightly east of the figure 5 center is West Yellow Creek. East Yellow Creek flows in a south direction from the figure 5 north edge to the south edge only a short distance east of West Yellow Creek. Long Branch is the south-oriented stream between Browning and West Yellow Creek near the figure 5 south edge. Locust Creek and Yellow Creek as previously mentioned flow independently to the Grand River. The south-oriented stream near the figure 5 east edge is Mussel Fork, which as previously mentioned flows to Chariton River. The closely spaced and roughly parallel south oriented valleys and their converging tributary valleys in the figure 5 map area again provides evidence the figure 5 drainage system evolved as deep valleys eroded headward along channels in what was an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Study of the figure 5 map area reveals a number of north-oriented barbed tributaries draining to the south-oriented valleys, especially in the figure 5 southwest and northwest quadrants, which show more detail than the figure 5 east half. However, close study of the figure 5 east half also reveals evidence of what were once diverging and converging flood flow channels. Mystic is a small town labeled in the figure 5 northeast quadrant. John Branch is a south-southwest oriented East Yellow Creek tributary originating near Mystic. Just west of Mystic is a northwest-oriented East Yellow Creek tributary. The figure 5 map contour interval does not reveal a shallow through valley linking the northwest-oriented East Yellow Creek tributary with the south-southwest oriented John Branch valley, however more detailed topographic maps (not shown in this essay) do show a shallow through valley crossing the drainage divide. On the more detailed topographic map the through valley floor elevation is between 1010 and 1020 feet and elevations on either side of the through valley rise to more than 1030 feet (the contour interval in the figure 5 east half is 20 meters and in the west half is 10 meters). The shallow through valley provides evidence of what was once a diverging and converging flood flow channel along the John Branch alignment, which was beheaded by headward erosion of the deep East Yellow Creek valley.

West Yellow Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 6 uses a reduced size topographic map to illustrate the West Yellow Creek-Chariton River drainage divide area north and east of the figure 5 map area. Green City is the town located in the figure 6 west center region. Green Castle is the town east of Green City and slightly west of the figure 6 center. Novinger is the larger town located south of the figure 6 east center and Connelsville is the smaller town located north of Novinger. West Yellow Creek flows in a south direction near the figure 6 west edge. South of the figure 6 map water flowing in West Yellow Creek eventually reaches the Grand River. Mussel Fork is the south-oriented stream originating in the region between Green City and Green Castle and flowing to the figure 6 south edge (west of center). South of the figure 6 map area Mussel Fork eventually flows to the Chariton River. The south-oriented river near the figure 6 east edge and just east of Connelsville and Novinger is the Chariton River. Note how, unlike further to the south, tributaries to the Chariton River north of Mussel Fork are no longer oriented in south directions, but are instead oriented in southeast directions. Spring Creek is the long southeast-oriented tributary flowing from the figure 6 north edge (near northwest corner) to join the Chariton River near Novinger. South of Spring Creek is southeast-oriented Bully Creek, which flows from the figure 6 center region near Green Castle to join the Chariton River in the figure 6 southeast corner. South of Bully Creek is southeast-oriented Hog Creek which joins the Chariton River south of the figure 6 southeast corner. North of Spring Creek is southeast-oriented Shuteye Creek, which joins the Chariton River near Connelsville. The southeast-oriented stream joining the Chariton River near the figure 6 north edge is Blackbird Creek, which is seen again in figures 8 and 10. The figure 6 map illustrates two fundamentally different, but similar drainage patterns. The southwest half of the figure 6 map area drainage routes were established by headward erosion of deep valleys along channels in what was once an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. In the figure 6 northeast half drainage routes were established by headward erosion of deep valleys from the actively eroding south-oriented Chariton River valley along what was once an immense southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex. In the case of the figure 6 map area headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented valleys beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding south oriented valleys. Figure 7 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Spring Creek-Mussel Fork drainage divide area near Green Castle to better illustrate evidence for beheaded flood flow routes.

Detailed map of Spring Creek-Mussel Fork drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Spring Creek-Mussel Fork 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 Spring Creek-Mussel Fork drainage divide area near Green Castle seen in less detail in figure 6 above. Spring Creek meanders in a southeast direction across the figure 7 northeast corner. Jobs Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary originating near Green Castle and joining Spring Creek near the figure 7 east edge. Note how Jobs Creek has north and northwest oriented tributaries and in the figure 7 northwest quadrant major Spring Creek tributaries are oriented in north directions. The north-oriented tributaries to Spring Creek, Jobs Creek, and other northeast-oriented Spring Creek tributaries are flowing in valleys eroded by reversals of flood flow on the north-ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels. The south-oriented flood flow channels were part of an immense south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channel complex which was beheaded by headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Spring Creek valley. The Spring Creek valley orientation was probably initiated as a channel in a southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex leading to the actively eroding Mississippi River valley and was capturing south-oriented flood flow moving in the south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. However as capture of flood flow moving in the south-oriented anastomosing channel complex by the actively developing southeast-oriented anastomosing channel was taking place headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Chariton River valley from the actively eroding Missouri River valley captured the developing southeast-oriented flood flow channels east of the figure 7 map area and in process beheaded flood flow channels to developing southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributary valleys. The deep Chariton River valley knick point then eroded headward along the captured southeast-oriented flood flow channels to erode deep southeast-oriented Chariton River tributary valleys (such as the Spring Creek valley). Prior to headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Spring Creek valley there was enough flood flow in the region that not only were flood waters moving in a southeast direction toward the Mississippi River valley, but also in a south direction to the south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the deep Spring Creek valley (and its deep northeast-oriented tributary valleys) beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes one at a time from the east to the west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented valleys. Shallow through valleys can be seen linking some of the south-oriented valleys with north-oriented Spring Creek tributary valleys. For example near the corner of sections 2, 3, 10, and 11 a shallow through valley links a south-oriented Mussel Fork headwaters valley with a north-oriented Spring Creek tributary valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 1000 and 1010 feet and spot elevations of 1043 feet can be found on either side of the through valley.

Locust Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Locust Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

  • Figure 8 illustrates the Locust Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area north and west of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Lemons is the town located north of the figure 8 west center area and Pollock is the town in the figure 8 southwest quadrant. Rosewood is the small town in the figure 8 northeast quadrant and Pennville is the small town in the figure 8 southeast quadrant. Locust Creek flows in a south direction near the figure 8 west edge. East Locust Creek originates near Lemons and flows in a south and south-southwest direction to the figure 8 south edge. As seen in figure 5 East Locust Creek flows for a considerable distance parallel to Locust Creek before finally joining Locust Creek, which eventually joins the Grand River. Spring Creek also originates near Lemons and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 8 southeast corner and as seen in figure 6 eventually joins the Chariton River. Note how Spring Creek has well-developed southeast-oriented tributaries from the north and shorter north-oriented tributaries from the south. The north-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. Between East Locust Creek and Spring Creek in the figure 8 south center region is south-southeast oriented West Yellow Creek, which as seen in figures 3, 4, 5, and 6 flows in a south direction to eventually join Yellow Creek south of the study region (and Yellow Creek then joins the Grand River). The southeast-oriented stream flowing from the figure 8 north center edge to the figure 8 east edge (north of center) is South Blackbird Creek, which flows to Blackbird Creek, which in turn flows to the south-oriented Chariton River. The east-southeast oriented stream in the figure 8 northeast corner is Williams Branch of North Blackbird Creek, which east of the figure 8 map area joins South Blackbird Creek to form Blackbird Creek. Note how South Blackbird Creek has north-oriented tributaries from the south. These north-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of south-oriented flood flow routes, meaning headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented South Blackbird Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded southeast-oriented Spring Creek valley (and tributary valleys). Note also how Locust Creek has barbed northwest-oriented tributaries such as Watkins Creek in the figure 8 northwest corner region. The Watkins Creek valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north or northwest end of what was at that time a diverging south- or southeast-oriented flood flow channel which was beheaded by headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Locust Creek valley.

Detailed map of Locust Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 9 provides a detailed topographic map of the Locust Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area near Lemons, which was seen in less detail in figure 8 above. Lemons is located just north of the figure 9 center. East Locust Creek is the south oriented stream originating just east of Lemons and flowing to the figure 9 south center edge. The unnamed south-southwest oriented stream between East Locust Creek and the figure 9 west edge (in the southwest quadrant) is an East Locust Creek tributary (see figure 8). South of figure 9 East Locust Creek joins south-oriented Locust Creek, which eventually joins the south-oriented Grand River. Spring Creek originates a short distance east of East Locust Creek and near Lemons and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 9 southeast corner and then flows to the south-oriented Chariton River. West-oriented streams flowing to the figure 9 west edge are tributaries to south-oriented Locust Creek, which is located a west of the figure 9 map area. Hackett Branch is the major west-northwest oriented Locust Creek tributary originating near Lemons and flowing through the figure 9 northwest quadrant. North of Hackett Branch in section 20 are headwaters of northwest-oriented Watkins Branch, which is also a Locust Creek tributary. The north oriented stream in section 21 flowing to the figure 9 north edge (just east of center) is a tributary to southeast-oriented South Blackbird Creek, which flows to the south-oriented Chariton River. The northeast and southeast oriented stream in the figure 9 northeast quadrant is North Spring Creek, which is a Spring Creek tributary. Note how drainage routes diverge from the Lemons area in all directions with Lemons being located on what is today one of the highest points in the region, although surrounding drainage divides are almost as high. Careful study of the figure 9 map reveals what might be some shallow through valleys, although they are only defined by a single ten foot contour line on each side. The lack of well-defined through valleys suggests flood waters in the figure 9 map area were being drawn in all directions as deep valleys eroded headward into the region from all directions. The north and northwest oriented valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow that must have occurred at approximately the same time as the deep south- and southeast-oriented valleys eroded headward into the region. Volumes of flood water must have great enough to erode these multiple and diverging valleys before all flood flow routes to region were beheaded.

Locust Creek-Blackbird Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Locust Creek-Blackbird Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

  • Figure 10 uses a reduced size topographic map to illustrate the Locust Creek-Blackbird Creek drainage divide area north of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Unionville is the town located near the figure 10 center. Rosewood is the small town in the figure 10 southeast quadrant. Locust Creek flows in a south direction along the figure 10 west edge and eventually (south of the figure 10 map area) joins the Grand River. Note northwest-oriented Locust Creek tributaries including northwest-oriented Watkins Branch in the figure 10 southwest quadrant. The east-southeast oriented stream flowing from just south of the  Municipal Airport west of Unionville to the figure 10 southeast corner is South Blackbird Creek. Note how South Blackbird Creek has north-oriented tributaries from the south. The southeast-oriented stream seen along the figure 10 south center edge is North Spring Creek, which is a Spring Creek tributary, which in turn is a Chariton River tributary. The southeast-oriented stream flowing from Lake Thunderhead to the figure 10 east edge (just south of center) is North Blackbird Creek. East and south of the figure 10 North and South Blackbird Creeks join to form southeast-oriented Blackbird Creek, which flows to the south-oriented Chariton River. Note how North Blackbird Creek also has north-oriented tributaries from the south. Perhaps the most obvious of these barbed tributaries is the north-oriented tributary valley now flooded by the Lake Thunderhead south arm. The Lake Thunderhead north arm floods the south-southeast oriented North Blackbird Creek valley. Note how the flooded Lake Thunderhead south arm valley is aligned with headwaters of southeast-oriented South Blackbird Creek, suggesting at one time there was a south-oriented flood flow channel to the actively eroding South Blackbird Creek valley, which was beheaded and captured by headward erosion of the southeast-oriented North Blackbird Creek valley. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed direction to erode the north-oriented valley now flooded by the Lake Thunderhead south arm.  Note also the south, southeast, and northeast oriented stream flowing to the Lake Thunderhead south arm from the west and how the south-oriented headwaters of that stream are aligned with a north and north-northeast oriented stream flowing as a barbed tributary to the Lake Thunderhead north arm (or the south-southeast oriented North Blackbird Creek valley). The alignment of these opposing streams suggests the presence of diverging and converging south-oriented flood flow channels. The ten meter contour interval for the figure 10 map does not provide enough detail to see shallow through valleys, although on more detailed topographic maps shallow through valleys exist and are defined by a single ten foot contour line on a side.

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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