Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Warren and St Charles Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to determine Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in eastern Warren and western St Charles Counties, Missouri. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction along the Warren County southern border and then turns to flow in a northeast direction along the St Charles County southern border before entering the southeast-oriented Mississippi River valley as a barbed tributary. Peruque Creek originates in northeast Warren County and flows in an east direction into central St Charles County where it turns to flow in a northeast and north direction to meet the south-oriented Mississippi River, also as a barbed tributary. Between Peruque Creek and the Missouri River is Dardenne Creek, which originates just west of the Warren-St Charles County line and which in central St Charles County turns to flow in a north direction to meet the south-oriented Mississippi River as a barbed tributary. Map evidence suggests north and northeast oriented Peruque and Dardenne Creek valley segments and the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley segment were eroded by reversals of flood flow on south-oriented flood flow routes beheaded by Mississippi River valley headward erosion. The south-oriented flood flow was derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet located north of the study region. Massive south-oriented floods eroded the entire Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes present day valley orientations, asymmetric drainage divides, elbows of capture, barbed tributaries, and through valleys eroded across modern 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 Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Warren and St Charles 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 Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area landform evidence in Warren and St Charles Counties, Missouri will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm. This essay is included in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay collection.

Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Peruque Creek-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 is a location map for the Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area in Warren and St Charles Counties, Missouri. The Mississippi River flows in a south-southesat direction from the figure 1 north edge (just east of center) to the south edge (near southeast corner) and serves as the border between Missouri to the west and Illinois to the east. Note how in the St Louis region the Mississippi River turns from flowing in a south direction to flowing in a north direction and then in a southeast and south-southwest direction before resuming its flow in a south-southeast direction. The Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 1 west edge (north of center) to Brunswick, Missouri and then turns to flow in a southeast, south, east, and southeast direction to Jefferson City. From Jefferson City the Missouri River flows in an east and northeast direction to join the Mississippi River upstream from St Louis. Peruque Creek is not shown on figure 1, but is an east oriented Mississippi River tributary just north of the Missouri River eastern end, originating near Warrenton and flowing near Wentzville and O’Fallon before turning to flow in a north direction to join the Mississippi River near the bend where the Mississippi River turns from flowing in a south direction to flowing in a north direction. South of Peruque Creek is east oriented Dardenne Creek, which is shown on figure 1 (but not labeled), and which also turns to flow in a north direction to meet the south-oriented Mississippi River. This essay focuses on the west half of the Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area and the Mississippi River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in St Charles County, Missouri essay addresses evidence further to the east. What is apparent from figure 1 is most regions north of the Missouri River in eastern Missouri are drained by east- and southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributaries and the Missouri River drainage basin (north of the Missouri River) is very narrow especially when compared with regions further to the west in figure 1 where the Missouri River has multiple long south-oriented tributaries flowing from north of the figure 1 map area. Also note how the Missouri River and its east- and northeast-oriented Osage River tributary have long north-oriented tributaries.
  • Topographic map evidence presented in this essay and in other essays listed under the Missouri in the sidebar category list and contained in the much larger  Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay collection suggests the Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area was eroded by immense south-oriented glacial melt water floods which were first captured by headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Missouri River valley and subsequently captured by headward erosion of the east-oriented Peruque Creek valley. South-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Peruque Creek valley was then captured by headward erosion of more northern east-oriented Mississippi River tributary valleys. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet, which at the time valleys in the figure 1 map area were eroded was located north of the figure 1 map area. Initially the massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage system existed and flowed directly across the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) to the Gulf of Mexico. Headward erosion of the deep Mississippi River valley and its deep tributary valleys in sequence from south to north gradually captured much of the south-oriented flood flow and diverted the flood waters to what was then the actively eroding Mississippi River valley. In the figure 1 map area headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley captured south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding White River tributary valleys located south of the figure 1 map area (the White River is a southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributary in Arkansas). Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Missouri River (and Osage River) tributary valleys.
  • Probably some of the most intriguing figure 1 drainage features are where the south-southeast oriented Mississippi River turns to flow in a north direction and then in a southeast and south-southwest direction before resuming its south-southeast flow direction and the northeast-oriented Missouri River course just before the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi River valley, which makes the Missouri River a barbed tributary. Why would the south-oriented Mississippi River flow in a north direction and why would one of the Mississippi River’s major tributaries flow in a northeast direction to join a south-oriented river? When the deep Mississippi River valley eroded headward into the figure 1 map area it was eroding headward along just one of many south-oriented flood flow channels crossing the figure 1 map area. The numerous south-oriented flood flow channels made up an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex where flood flow channels diverged from each other and then converged again. These south-oriented flood flow channels were located on an erosion (and/or deposition?) surface comparable in elevation to present day drainage divide elevations. While these features are outside the study region and figure 1 does not provide much detail, I will try to use figure 1 map evidence to briefly explain how these unusual geomorphic features evolved
  • The deep Mississippi River valley and its deep tributary valleys eroded headward along and across major flood flow channels carved into a high level topographic surface and in doing so beheaded diverging south-oriented flood flow routes. Flood waters on north ends of these beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented tributary valleys, which now are used by north-oriented and barbed tributaries flowing to the south-oriented Mississippi River. For example near St Marys (south of St Louis) a north-oriented tributary flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River. Also, as deep Mississippi River valley headward erosion captured converging flood flow routes it eroded headward fastest along the most successful of the captured flood flow channels. Note how in the Alton and Wood River, Illinois area (north of St Louis) south-southwest oriented Mississippi River tributaries are aligned with the south-southwest Mississippi River segment near St Louis. These tributaries provide evidence headward erosion of the deep Mississippi River valley captured major south-southwest oriented flood flow channels and eroded headward along them. Note also how the south-oriented Illinois River joins the Mississippi River at the north end of the north-oriented Mississippi River segment. The south-oriented Illinois River route and the south-oriented Mississippi River route immediately to the west were parallel south-oriented flood flow channels in the large anastomosing channel complex. Prior to headward  erosion of the deep Mississippi River valley these south-oriented flood flow channels were located on a topographic surface as high as the regional drainage divides today and probably were relatively shallow channels and had diverging channels to both the east and west.
  • When deep Mississippi River valley headward erosion reached the Wood River-Alton, Illinois area a deep southeast-oriented valley eroded headward along a southeast-oriented flood flow channel diverging from the south oriented Illinois River flood flow channel and that valley captured the south oriented Illinois River flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Mississippi River valley segment, which then captured the south-oriented flood flow channel on the present day south-oriented Mississippi River alignment and the deep Mississippi River valley then continued to erode headward along that channel (a deep valley also eroded headward on the Illinois River alignment). But south of the newly eroded south- and north-oriented Mississippi River valley U-turn were additional southwest-oriented diverging flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding south-oriented White River tributary valleys south of the figure 1 map area. Flood flow on the north ends of those beheaded flood flow channels also reversed flow direction and began to erode northeast-oriented valleys, one of which was the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley segment, which captured massive flood flow from west of the actively eroding Mississippi River valley and eventually became one of the most successful of the Mississippi River tributary valleys in terms of capturing flood flow. As the deep Mississippi River valley eroded headward additional east and southeast oriented tributary valleys eroded from it and beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Missouri River valley. However, the Missouri River valley eroded headward fast enough that it’s actively eroding valley head was always west of the beheaded flood flow routes.

Detailed location map for Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 2 provides a somewhat more detailed location map for the Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area in Warren and St Charles Counties, Missouri. County boundaries and names are provided. The Mississippi River flows in a south direction from the figure 2 north edge between Lincoln County, Missouri and Calhoun County, Illinois to the St Charles County northern border and then turns to flow in a northeast and southeast direction along the St Charles County northern border before turning to flow in a south-southwest direction to the figure 2 south edge. The Missouri River flows from the figure 2 west edge along the southern borders of Montgomery, Warren, and St Charles Counties and joins the Mississippi River in the figure 2 east center area.  While not seen in figure 2 or in topographic maps illustrated in this essay the southeast oriented Missouri River segment north of St Louis represents the Missouri River channel route as it is entering the southeast oriented Mississippi River valley. As previously mentioned the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley segment north of St Louis enters the south oriented Mississippi River valley as a barbed tributary. Note how southwest-oriented Piasa Creek in Illinois flows to the Mississippi River exactly opposite where the northeast-oriented Missouri River enters the Mississippi River valley (and turns to flow in a southeast direction). This evidence suggests the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley was eroded on the northeast end of a beheaded southwest-oriented flood flow channel, although the flood erosion history was considerably more complex as we will see in the topographic maps that follow. Peruque Creek originates near Wright City in northeast Warren County and flows in an east direction just south of Wentzville in northwest St Charles County and after reaching the O’Fallon area turns to flow in a north direction to meet the south-oriented Mississippi River. The north oriented Preuque Creek segment is primarily located in the Mississippi River valley, although it begins before Peruque Creek enters the Mississippi River valley. Dardenne Creek is the east-oriented stream located between Peruque Creek and the Missouri River in western St Charles County and near St Peters turns to flow in a north direction to meet the south-oriented Mississippi River. Missouri River tributaries of interest include south-oriented Dry Fork and Charrette Creek in Warren County and Callaway Fork and Femme Osage Creek in southwest St Charles County. North and west of Peruque Creek in Warren County is north and east oriented Big Creek, which flows into southern Lincoln County and then flows along the Lincoln County southern border as it joins the southeast- and east-oriented Cuivre River, which then flows along the Lincoln County-St Charles County boundary to the Mississippi River.

Big Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 3 illustrates the Big Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area west of the Peruque Creek headwaters in Warren County. Note the west to east oriented Lincoln-Warren County line located in the figure 3 north half. Warrenton and Truesdale are adjacent towns located near the figure 3 southwest quadrant’s northeast corner. Wright City is the town located in the figure 3 east center area and Foristell is the small town located near where the highway and railroad cross the figure 3 east edge. The north-oriented stream originating just west of Warrenton is Big Creek, which near the county line turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 3 north edge. Upon reaching the figure 3 north edge Big Creek then turns to flow in an east direction along and across the north edge to the figure 3 northeast corner. East of figure 3 Big Creek joins the Cuivre River, which then flows in an east direction to the Mississippi River. Yeater Branch is an interesting Big Creek tributary which originates near the figure 3 west center edge and which flows in a north direction to the figure 3 northwest corner before turning to flow in an east-southeast direction to join Big Creek. Hickory Lick Creek is a north-northeast oriented Big Creek tributary originating near Truesdale. Indian Creek is located east of Hickory Lick Creek and flows in a northeast and north direction to the county line and then flows in an east direction to the figure 3 east edge. East of figure 3 Indian Creek joins Big Creek. Peruque Creek originates in the figure 3 center south area and flows in a northeast direction to Wright City and then in an east-southeast direction to the figure 3 east edge south of Foristell. The south-oriented stream just south of Warrenton is Dry Fork, which flows to the Missouri River. The south-southeast and south oriented stream originating near Truesdale is the North Fork Charrette Creek, with Charrette Creek being a Missouri River tributary. Other south-oriented streams in the figure 3 south center area are Charrette Creek tributaries. Note how the north-oriented streams are aligned with south-oriented streams. This alignment is especially good just west of Warrenton where north-oriented Big Creek is aligned with south-oriented Dry Fork. What has happened here is the south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys eroded headward along south-oriented flood flow routes from what was then the newly eroded Missouri River valley north wall. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Big Creek valley then captured the south-oriented flood flow and flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Big Creek tributary and headwaters valleys. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Indian Creek valley was slightly in advance of Big Creek valley headward erosion and was able to behead and reverse flood flow routes to erode the north-oriented Indian Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Peruque Creek valley was slightly in advance of Indian Creek valley headward erosion and beheaded and reversed flood flow routes to erode north-oriented Peruque Creek tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Big Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Big Creek-Missouri River 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 Big Creek-Dry Fork (Missouri River) drainage divide area near Warrenton, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Big Creek is the north-oriented stream flowing in the north-oriented valley on the Warrenton west edge and which originates in the section 32 northeast quadrant in the figure 4 southwest quadrant. South of the Big Creek headwaters in section 32 are south-southwest oriented Dry Fork headwaters which flow to the figure 4 south edge and then to the Missouri River. Note how the north-oriented Big Creek valley is linked in the section 32 northeast quadrant by a shallow through valley with the south-oriented Dry Fork valley. The map contour interval is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 860 and 880 feet. Elevations on either side of the through valley rise to more than 900 feet. While not deep the through valley is a water eroded feature and provides evidence of a south-oriented flood flow route that once flowed across the figure 4 map area. Flood waters were flowing to what was then the actively eroding south-oriented Dry Fork valley, which was eroding headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Big Creek valley north of the figure 4 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow route, which triggered a reversal of flood flow on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route. The reversed flood flow eroded the north oriented Big Creek valley. A close look at figure 4 reveals many other shallow through valleys, although most other through valleys are even shallower. The north-oriented stream flowing from Truesdale to the figure 4 north edge is Hickory Lick Creek. Note how Hickory Lick Creek headwaters are linked by a shallow through valley with a south-southeast stream flowing to the figure 4 south edge (near southeast corner). The south-southeast oriented stream is the North Fork Charrette Creek, which flows to Charrette Creek which in turn flows to Missouri River. The through valley is defined by a single 20-foot contour line on each side, but also provides evidence of a former south-oriented flood flow channel. While the Big Creek-North Fork Charrette Creek drainage divide area is hard to see in the Warrenton urban area it appears as though there is a shallow east-southeast oriented through valley linking the two valleys. The east-southeast oriented through valley provides evidence of diverging and converging flood flow routes typical of flood formed anastomosing channel complexes.

Peruque Creek-Charrette Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 5 illustrates the Peruque Creek-Charrette Creek drainage divide area located east and south of the figure 3 map area and which includes overlap areas with figure 3. Truesdale is located in the figure 5 northwest corner, Wright City is located near the figure 5 north center edge, and Foristell is located east and slightly south from Wright City. New Melle is the town near the figure 5 southeast corner. The North Fork Charrette Creek flows in a south-southeast and south direction from Truesdale to the figure 5 south edge (west half). Note southeast and south-southeast oriented tributaries from the west and south-southeast and southwest oriented tributaries from the east, which converge to form south-oriented Charrette Creek. North of sections 36 and 31 located just west of the horizontal words HICKORY GROVE are the east and northeast oriented Peruque Creek headwaters which flow to Wright City and then turn to flow in an east-southeast direction to the figure 5 east edge (north half). Note how Peruque Creek has a number of northeast and north oriented tributaries. Skunk Creek is the north oriented tributary joining Peruque Creek near Wright City. Note how headward erosion of the northeast-oriented Peruque Creek valley west of Skunk Creek would have beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the Charrette Creek tributary valley originating in section 31. Also note how reversal of flood flow on the Skunk Creek alignment beheaded flood flow to a west-oriented Charrette Creek tributary valley. Also note just north of section 36 (west of HICKORY GROVE) are headwaters of a northeast-oriented stream. North of the figure 5 map area that northeast-oriented turns to flow in a north direction to join east-oriented Indian Creek. These alignments of north- and south-oriented valleys provide additional evidence of former south-oriented flood flow routes which were beheaded by headward erosion of the east-oriented Peruque Creek valley and then by headward erosion of the east-oriented Big Creek-Indian Creek valley north of the figure 5 map area. The east-southeast and east-northeast oriented stream in the figure 5 southeast quadrant and flowing north of New Melle is Dardenne Creek. Dardenne Creek originates in the figure 5 center south region and flows in an east direction between Peruque Creek and the Missouri River and then turns to flow in a north direction to join the Mississippi River just east of where Peruque Creek turns to join the Mississippi River. South of Dardenne Creek along the south edge of the figure 5 southeast quadrant are headwaters of Callaway Fork, which will be seen again in figure 9.

Detailed map of Peruque Creek-Charrette Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Detailed map of Peruque Creek-Charrette Creek 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 Peruque Creek-Charrette Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Wright City is located near the figure 6 northeast corner and Truesdale is located just west of the figure 6 northwest quadrant west edge. The North Fork Charrette Creek flows in a south-southeast direction from the figure 6 west center edge to the figure 6 south edge. Other south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 6 south edge are Charrette Creek tributaries and south of the figure 6 map area Charrette Creek flows to the Missouri River. Peruque Creek originates in the section 25 southeast quadrant and flows in an east direction to the section 30 southeast quadrant and then turns to flow in a northeast direction to the south edge of Wright City where it turns to flow in an east-southeast direction to the figure 6 east edge. Skunk Creek is the north-oriented tributary originating near the figure 6 southeast corner and flowing along the figure 6 east edge to join Peruque Creek near the east edge. Note how the north-oriented Skunk Creek valley is linked by a shallow through valley with a southwest-oriented Charrette Creek tributary valley in the figure 6 southeast corner. The map contour is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 800 and 820 feet. Elevations in the figure 6 southeast corner (east of the through valley) rise to more than 840 feet. West of the through valley elevations along the drainage divide near the through valley do not rise as high, although in the north half of section 32 elevations rise to at least 840 feet. Continuing west to the section 31 northeast quadrant elevations fall to between 800 and 820 feet again, which represents another through valley linking the northeast-oriented Peruque Creek valley with a south-oriented Charrette Creek tributary valley. West of the that section 31 through valley elevations rise to more than 840 feet. What appear to be two separate through valleys are in fact two deeper channels eroded into the floor of a much broader south-oriented former flood flow channel which is defined by elevations greater than 840 feet on either side. Probably flood waters flowed south across elevations higher than 840 feet. However, based on the figure 6 map evidence alone we can only say flood waters eroded the broad channel between the 840 foot plus elevations in the figure 6 southeast corner and 840 foot plus elevation near the corner of sections 25, 30, 31, and 36. Even with this limited evidence we can say south-oriented flood flow significantly lowered the Peruque Creek-Missouri River drainage divide in that channel region perhaps by 20 or more feet before headward erosion of the east-oriented Peruque Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel supplying flood water to what were then actively eroding Charrette Creek tributary valleys.

Peruque Creek-Dardenne Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 7 illustrates the Peruque Creek-Dardenne Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 5 map area. Wentzville is the town in the figure 7 northwest corner and Gilmore is the town north of Lake St Louis. East and north of Gilmore is the town of O’Fallon and St Peter is the town near the figure 7 east edge. Harvester is the unlabeled town south of St Peter. The northeast oriented Missouri River is located in the figure 7 southeast corner. Peruque Creek flows in an east direction from the figure 7 west edge (just south of Wentzville) to Lake St Louis and then turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 7 north edge just north of O’Fallon. Callaway Fork is the east-southeast oriented stream with a flooded valley seen in the figure 7 southwest corner and will be seen again in figure 9. Dardenne Creek flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 7 west edge (south of center) to join east-southeast oriented Little Dardenne Creek, which flows from the west center edge area, and then to flow in an east direction to the small town of Cottleville. At Cottleville Dardenne Creek turns to flow in a north-northeast direction to the figure 7 northeast corner. Note how north and northeast oriented Dardenne Creek tributaries in the figure 7 southeast quadrant originate almost on the edge of the east-northeast oriented Missouri River valley. Remember north and east of the figure 7 map area Dardenne Creek flows in a north direction to join the south oriented Mississippi River as a barbed tributary and the Missouri River is without question one of North America’s largest river systems. How is it possible for north-oriented Mississippi River tributaries to begin on the edge of the Missouri River valley? What we are seeing again is evidence of massive reversals of what was once south oriented flood flow. The flood flow reversals took place as the deep Mississippi River valley eroded headward in the region north and east figure 7 and beheaded south- and southwest-oriented flood flow routes moving across the figure 7 map area. Flood waters on north and northeast ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north- and northeast-oriented valleys. The northeast-oriented Missouri River valley segment seen in figure 7 was eroded by this reversal of flood flow and shortly thereafter (before deep south-oriented tributary valleys could erode headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley north wall) flood flow north of the Missouri River valley was reversed to erode the north-oriented Dardenne Creek valley and the north-oriented Peruque Creek valley. These newly eroded valleys captured south-oriented flood flow moving to the newly eroded Missouri River valley and diverted the flood flow to the newly eroded Mississippi River valley.

Detailed map of Peruque Creek-Dardenne Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Peruque Creek-Dardenne 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 Peruque Creek-Dardenne Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 7 above. Wentzville is located just north and west of the figure 8 northwest corner. Peruque Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 8 north edge and Lake Saint Louis can be seen near the north edge of the figure 8 northeast quadrant. Dardenne Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 8 south edge and has several pronounced incised meanders just south of similar incised meanders on an east-southeast-oriented Dardenne Creek tributary in the figure 8 south center region. North of the west end of the incised meander area is a north-oriented Peruque Creek tributary with an east-oriented headwaters valley. Note how that north-oriented Peruque Creek valley is linked by what appears to be a shallow through valley with the east-southeast oriented Dardenne Creek tributary valley (at the west end of that tributary valley’s incised meanders). The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 640 and 650 feet. As we have seen in earlier figures elevations rise in the west to more than 800 feet. East of the through valley elevations rise to more than 660 feet, but then there is a significant stretch of the Peruque Creek-Dardenne Creek drainage divide where elevations are lower than 640 feet and even locations where the drainage divide elevation is less than 630 feet. But continuing east of the figure 8 map area elevations rise again to at least 668 feet before falling again. Yet continuing east of the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley there is a high point on the west side of the bluff between the northeast-oriented Missouri River and the southeast-oriented Mississippi River with an elevation of 656 feet. While these elevations may at first appear meaningless, what the elevations are saying is that at one time the entire figure 8 map area (and the region east as well) was at least as high the present day high points, if not much higher. Present day drainage elevations evolved as massive south-oriented flood flow moved across the region and stripped the region of tens of feet (if not more) of bedrock material. The incised meanders seen in figure 8 are related to the massive flood erosion which occurred as the deep east-oriented Dardenne Creek valley and its east-southeast oriented tributary valley were eroded into the underlying bedrock material.

Callaway Fork-Missouri River drainage divide area

Figure 9: Callaway Fork-Missouri River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 9 illustrates the Callaway Fork-Missouri River drainage divide area south and west of the figure 7 map area, south and east of the figure 5 map area, and includes overlap areas with both figures 5 and 7. Washington is the urban area seen in the figure 9 southwest corner and is on the southwest side of the southeast-oriented Missouri River valley. Note how the Missouri River flows in a southeast direction in the figure 9 southwest quadrant and then turns to flow in a northeast direction in the figure 9 southeast quadrant. This elbow of capture is significant because it marks where headward erosion of the northeast-oriented Missouri River valley, which was being eroded by reversed flood flow on the northeast end of a beheaded southwest-oriented flood flow route (beheaded by Mississippi River valley headward erosion), captured a major southeast-oriented flood flow route that subsequently enabled the Missouri River valley to capture most south oriented flood flow west of the Mississippi River valley. The south and southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 9 northwest corner area to enter the Missouri River valley at the figure 9 west edge is Tuque Creek. Major Tuque Creek tributaries are west oriented College Creek and west and southwest oriented Wolf Creek, which flows from Lake Sherwood. These tributaries flow in the opposite direction of the present day Missouri River and their orientations are relics of the time when south and southwest oriented flood water flowed across the entire region. Perhaps the most interesting stream on figure 9 in Femme Osage Creek, which originates as a west oriented stream and then turns to flow in a northeast, north-northwest, south-southeast, and northeast direction to join the Missouri River near the figure 9 east edge. Callaway Fork is an east, east-southeast, and south-southeast oriented tributary joining Femme Osage Creek in the figure 9 east center area. Schluersburg Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary originating near the west-oriented Femme Osage Creek headwaters and joining southeast-oriented Femme Osage Creek near the small town of Schluersburg. Note how the west-oriented Femme Osage Creek headwaters originate on one of the highest points in the figure 9 map area (the map contour interval is ten meters and elevations are greater than 240 meters). Other areas of comparable elevation are found in the Cappein area near the figure 9 north edge. These high areas with elevations in the 240-250 meter range suggest the entire figure 9 map area was once at that elevation and deep flood water erosion eroded deep valleys to create the landscape seen today. Bigelow Creek is a south-southeast oriented Missouri River tributary located south of the Femme Osage Creek headwaters and Sehrt Creek is a south-southeast oriented Missouri River tributary located south of the Schluersburg Creek headwaters. Figure 10 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Femme Osage Creek-Bigelow Creek and Schluersburg Creek-Sehrt Creek drainage divide areas.

Detailed map of Femme Osage Creek-Bigelow Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 10 is a detailed topographic map illustrating the Femme Osage Creek-Bigelow Creek drainage divide area and the Schluersburg Creek-Sehrt Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Femme Osage Creek originates in the north half of section 33 and flows in a west direction before turning to flow in a north-northwest direction to the figure 10 north edge (near northwest corner). Schluersburg Creek originates in section 34 and flows in a northeast direction to the figure 10 north edge (near northeast corner). Sehrt Creek originates in the section 4 northeast corner and flows in a south-southeast direction across section 3 to the figure 10 south edge (east half). Femme Osage Creek originates in the north half of section 33 and flows in a west direction before turning to flow in a north-northwest direction to the figure 10 north edge (near northwest corner). Schluersburg Creek originates in section 34 and flows in a northeast direction to the figure 10 north edge (near northeast corner). Sehrt Creek originates in the section 4 northeast corner and flows in a south-southeast direction across section 3 to the figure 10 south edge (east half). Bigelow Creek originates in the section 33 south half and flows in a south-southwest direction to the section 5 southeast corner before turning to flow in a south-southeast direction to the figure 10 south edge. The figure 10 map contour interval is 20 feet and the highest point is in section 33 and is labeled at 903 feet. Some other isolated areas above 900 feet are easily identified. Note how the drainage divide between the west-oriented Femme Osage Creek headwaters and east-oriented Schluersburg Creek headwaters is the high ridge between the isolated areas greater than 900 feet in elevation. Yet, between those isolated 900 foot plus elevations the ridge elevations are slightly lower, suggesting the presence of what were once flood flow channels linking the two opposing streams (which ultimately join north and east of the figure 10 map area). In other words at the top of this ridge are shallow through valleys providing evidence of former flood flow routes. Perhaps easier to visualize is a through valley linking the northeast-oriented Schluersburg Creek valley with the south-southeast oriented Sehrt Creek valley near the boundary between section 34 and section 3. Actually there are two such valleys with the narrower western valley being slightly deeper than the eastern valley. The western valley floor elevation is between 760 and 780 feet. As we have seen elevations to the west rise to 903 feet. Elevations to the east, near the figure 10 east edge just east of the section 2 northeast corner, rise to more than 860 feet. In other words what appear to be narrow through valleys are in fact channels eroded into the floor of a much broader through valley which was at least two miles across. Floors of shallow through valleys linking the Femme Osage Creek headwaters valley with the south-oriented Bigelow Creek valley are between 840 and 860 feet in elevation and provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow at a much higher elevation which was subsequently beheaded and reversed to erode the north-oriented Femme Osage Creek valley segment.

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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