West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map evidence is used to interpret landform origins in the West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area located in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri. The Missouri River flows in an east direction and forms the southern border of Callaway (west), Montgomery, and Warren (east) Counties with Audrain County being located north of Callaway and Montgomery Counties. The West Fork Cuivre River originates as a north-oriented stream in Audrain County north of the Callaway County northeast corner and then turns to flow in an east-southeast direction to join the southeast and east oriented Cuivre River, which then joins the south-oriented Mississippi River. South of the West Fork headwaters are headwaters of the southeast-oriented Loutre River, which joins the Missouri River. The West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide is an asymmetric drainage divide with much steeper gradients to the south than to the north. Major West Fork Cuivre River tributaries from the south originate as north-northwest or north oriented streams near the drainage divide and then turn to flow in northeast directions. Barbed tributaries, the asymmetric drainage divide, alignment of valleys on opposite sides of drainage divides, and valleys eroded across drainage divides all provide evidence the study region was eroded by massive south-oriented floods moving to what was then an actively eroding Missouri River valley and actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep West Fork Cuivre River valley then beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes so as to erode the north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributary valleys and to create the north-oriented slope toward the West Fork Cuivre River valley.

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 West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren 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 West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform evidence in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren 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.

West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: West Fork Cuivre 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 is a location map for the West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri. The south-southeast oriented Mississippi River flows in the figure 1 east half and serves as the boundary between Illinois (east) and Missouri (west). The Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 1 west center edge area 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 direction to join the south-oriented Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. Upstream on the Mississippi River from where the Missouri River joins it the first significant tributary from the west is unlabeled, but has a labeled southeast oriented North Fork and a labeled southeast oriented West Fork (flowing through the town of Moscow Mills) and is the southeast and east oriented Cuivre River. The West Fork Cuivre River has headwaters near Mexico, Missouri and flows in a northeast direction before turning to flow in a southeast direction. South of the southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River is an unlabeled and shorter east-oriented Cuivre River tributary, which is Big Creek. The West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren Counties discussed in this essay is located south of the West Fork Cuivre River, north of the Missouri River, east of the West Fork Cuivre River headwaters, and west of the Big Creek headwaters and includes the towns of Wellsville, Montgomery City, New Florence, and Jonesburg. Essays describing other regional Missouri River drainage basin drainage divide areas can be found under Missouri or MO Missouri River on the sidebar category list. West of the West Fork Cuivre River headwaters is the north-oriented South Fork Salt River, which flows to the northeast and southeast oriented Salt River, which is also a Mississippi River tributary.
  • Based on topographic maps illustrated and described in this essay as well as on topographic map evidence illustrated and described in essays interpreting landform origins for other Missouri River drainage basin drainage divide areas the figure 1 map area was eroded by immense south-oriented floods derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located north of the figure 1 map area. Initially the south-oriented melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage system that existed and flowed directly in a south direction across the entire figure 1 map area to the Gulf of Mexico. Headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Mississippi River valley and its tributary valleys (in sequence from south to north) systematically captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted the massive floods to the Mississippi River valley. For example, south of the figure 1 map area, in the state of Arkansas, the southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward from the deep Mississippi River valley to capture the south-oriented flood flow prior to headward erosion of the southeast-oriented White 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 valley next captured the south-oriented flood flow and triggered massive flood flow reversals along north ends of beheaded flood flow routes to erode north-oriented Missouri River and Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley west of the Jefferson City area (where the Osage River joins the Missouri River) next captured the south-oriented flood flow. Continuing north along the west side of the Mississippi River headward erosion of the Cuivre River valley and its tributary valleys next captured south-oriented flood flow routes and then headward erosion of the Salt River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Cuivre River tributary valleys, and west of the West Fork Cuivre River headwaters (near Mexico) beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Missouri River valley so as to erode the north-oriented South Fork Salt River valley.

Detailed location map for West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 2 provides a more detailed location map for the West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Audrain, Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri. County names and boundaries are shown. The Missouri River flows in an east direction along the southern borders of Callaway, Montgomery, Warren, and St Charles Counties to the Mississippi River east of the figure 2 map area. The Mississippi River flows along the western and southern boundaries of Calhoun County, Illinois in the figure 2 northeast quadrant. The West Fork Cuivre River originates near Benton City (south and east of Mexico in Audrain County) and flows in a northeast and east-southeast direction in Audrain County so as to flow across the Montgomery County northeast corner to join the southeast-oriented North Fork Cuivre River just north of Troy in Lincoln County. From the Troy area the Cuivre River flows in a southeast direction to join east-oriented Big Creek and then to flow in an east direction along the Lincoln County-St Charles County border to join the Mississippi River. Labeled West Fork Cuivre River tributaries from the south include east-oriented Coon Creek, northwest and northeast oriented Elkhorn Creek, and north and northeast oriented Bear Creek. An unlabeled north-northeast West Fork tributary flowing near New Truxton in northern Warren County is Camp Creek. South of these north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributaries are south-oriented Missouri River tributaries. The longest of these Missouri River tributaries is the southeast-oriented Loutre River which originates in Audrain County south of Benton City (also south of the northeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River headwaters) and which flows across the Callaway County northeast corner into southeast Montgomergy County, where it joins the Missouri River near McKittrick. An interesting Loutre River tributary from the northeast is southeast and south-southwest oriented Little Loutre Creek near the Audrain, Callaway, and Montgomery County common corner. An interesting tributary from the southwest is in the Callaway County northeast corner area and is northwest and east-southeast oriented Whetstone Creek. South of Whetstone Creek is north- and southeast-oriented Prairie Fork. Orientations of these tributary streams provide evidence of former southeast-oriented flood flow routes across the study region which were systematically captured and dismembered by headward erosion of deep valleys. For example the northwest-oriented Whetstone Creek headwaters valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the northwest end of a beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow route. The same could be said for the northwest-oriented Bear Creek headwaters. North-oriented tributary valleys in general were eroded by reversals of south-oriented flood flow. Topographic maps and the related discussions below illustrate and describe these and other examples.

West Fork Cuivre River-Loutre River drainage divide area

Figure 3: West Fork Cuivre River-Loutre River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 3 illustrates the West Fork Cuivre River-Loutre River drainage divide area in the Audrain, Callaway, and Montgomergy common corner region seen in figure 2. Wellsville is the town located in the figure 3 southeast quadrant and is the largest town shown. Martinsburg is the smaller town located just west of the Audrain-Montgomery County line near the figure 3 center and Benton City is the smaller town located in the figure 3 northwest quadrant. The north-northeast oriented stream originating south of Benton City and flowing (just east of Benton City) to the figure 3 north edge is the West Fork Cuivre River, which north of the figure 3 map area turns to flow in an east-southeast direction across the figure 3 northeast corner area. North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 3 north edge west of the West Fork Cuivre River are north-oriented tributaries flowing to the Salt River, which joins the Mississippi River north of the Cuivre River (see figure 1). Northwest-oriented streams seen along the north half of the figure 3 west edge are tributaries to the north-oriented South Fork Salt River while south-oriented streams in the figure 3 southwest corner are headwaters of a south-oriented Auxvasse Creek tributary, with Auxvasse Creek being a south-oriented Missouri River tributary. The east and east-northeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 east edge (north half) is Coon Creek, which joins the West Fork Cuivre River east of the figure 3 map area. White Oak Creek is the east and east-southeast oriented stream originating near Wellsville and flowing to the figure 3 east edge. East of figure 3 White Oak Creek joins Elkhorn Creek, which then joins the West Fork Cuivre River. The east- and southeast-oriented stream in the figure 3 south center region is the Loutre River, which is a Missouri River tributary. Note how southeast-oriented Loutre River headwaters valleys are aligned with northwest-oriented South Fork Salt River tributary valleys and also with north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River headwaters valleys. The Loutre River and its tributaries are flowing in deeper valleys than the north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River headwaters and tributaries, which is evidence the north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River valleys were eroded by reversals of what had been south-oriented flood flow. The flood flow reversals occurred as the southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River valley and its east-oriented tributary valleys eroded headward across south-oriented flood flow routes to what were actively eroding Loutre River tributary and headwaters valleys. Flood flow routes were beheaded and reversed in sequence from east to west so as to erode north-oriented valleys.

Elkhorn Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Elkhorn Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 4 illustrates the Elkhorn Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide area south and east of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Wellsville is the town in the figure 4 northwest corner. Montgomergy City is the town in the figure 4 west center area and New Florence is near the south edge and west of center. Bellflower is the town east of the figure 4 center. Northwest-oriented Elkhorn Creek headwaters are located east of New Florence and Elkhorn Creek flows in a northwest and north-northwest direction before turning to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 4 north edge (just east of center). North of the figure 4 map area Elkhorn Creek joins the southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River which flows across the figure 4 northeast corner region. White Oak Creek is the east and east-southeast oriented tributary flowing from near Wellsville to join northeast-oriented Elkhorn Creek near the small town of Buell. Bear Creek is a north-northwest and northeast oriented stream flowing from the figure 4 south center edge to join southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River near the figure 4 east edge (near northeast corner). Camp Creek is the north-northeast oriented stream near the figure 4 southeast corner flowing to the figure 4 east center edge (and joining the West Fork Cuivre River just east of the figure 4 map area). The northwest, west, and southwest oriented stream in the figure 4 southwest corner area is Smith Branch, which flows to the southeast-oriented Loutre River. Note north-oriented tributaries to north-northeast and northeast oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributaries. Some of the north-oriented tributaries are oriented in northwest and north-northwest directions yet end up flowing to the southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River. These confused drainage routes, which make complete U-turns to flow in the opposite direction, make sense in the context of the dismemberment of an immense southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex by headward erosion of deep valleys into the region. Flood waters were probably flowing on an erosion (or deposition?) surface at least as high the highest figure 4 elevations today. Initially flood waters were probably oriented in a south direction, but began to flow in southeast directions as the deep east-oriented Missouri River valley eroded headward into the region (just south of figure 4 map area). Headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River valley and its northeast-oriented tributary valleys into the region then beheaded and reversed the south and southeast oriented flood flow to erode its north, north-northwest, and northwest oriented tributary valleys. Flood flow on the northwest-oriented Smith Branch alignment was beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Smith Branch valley from the deep southeast-oriented Loutre River valley, which eroded headward from the deep Missouri River valley.

Elkhorn Creek-Loutre River drainage divide area

Figure 5: Elkhorn Creek-Loutre River 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 Elkhorn Creek-Loutre River drainage divide located south and slightly west of the figure 4 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 4. Danville is the town north of the word DANVILLE in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. New Florence is the larger town located east of Danville. High Hill is a much smaller town located on the railroad and highway near the figure 5 center and Jonesburg is a somewhat larger town east and south of High Hill. The Loutre River meanders for a short distance in a south direction along and across the figure 5 west center edge and then turns to flow in a southeast direction across the figure 5 southwest quadrant to the figure 5 south edge. South of the figure 5 map area the Loutre River joins the east-oriented Missouri River. Note how the Loutre River and its tributaries have eroded deep valleys into an erosion (or deposition?) surface drained by north-oriented drainage routes just north of the highway. Northwest and north-northwest oriented Elkhorn Creek headwaters are located just east of New Florence and just east of those (near the Ranch Roy L Landing Strip) are north-northwest oriented Bear Creek headwaters. Between High Hill and Jonesburg north-oriented streams originating near the highway are Bear Creek tributaries and east of Jonesburg the north-oriented streams are Camp Creek headwaters and tributaries. South of High Hill is south-southeast and west-southwest oriented Bear Creek (south), which flows to the south-oriented Loutre River and which is different from the Bear Creek (north) north of High Hill, which flows to the West Fork Cuivre River. Note how the west-southwest oriented Bear Creek (south) has south and south-southwest oriented headwaters, which are aligned with the north and north-northwest streams north of the asymmetric drainage divide, which is the Mississippi River-Missouri River drainage divide. The alignment of tributaries on both sides of the asymmetric drainage divide suggests the deep Loutre River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward into the region to capture immense volumes of south and south-southeast oriented flood flow. As the Loutre River valley and its tributary valleys were eroding headward the deep West Fork Cuivre River valley and its northeast-oriented tributary valleys were also eroding headward in the region just to the north and were beheading the south and south-southeast oriented flood flow routes in sequence from east to west so as to cause a gradual, but massive flood flow reversal. While large volumes of water were involved in the flood flow reversal, the water volumes were much smaller than the water volumes that had eroded the deep Loutre River valley and tributary valleys. As a result the north-oriented valleys were not eroded as deep, although there was enough reversed flow erosion to change the regional slope.

Loutre River-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 6 illustrates the Loutre River-Missouri River drainage divide area located south and west of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. High Hill is the small town located in the figure 6 northeast corner. The east-oriented Missouri River can be seen flowing along and across the figure 6 south edge. The unlabeled urban area south of the Missouri River in the figure 6 southeast quadrant is Hermann. On the north side of the Missouri River valley from Hermann is the small town of McKittrick and the town on the highway north of McKittrick is Big Spring. The south oriented river flowing to the Missouri River near McKittrick is the Loutre River. The Loutre River flows in a south direction from the figure 6 north edge (just west of center) and then joins east-southeast oriented Prairie Fork and then flows in a southeast direction to near Big Spring. Near Big Spring the Loutre River is joined by west-southwest oriented Bear Creek (south) and flows in a southwest and then southeast direction to join the Missouri River. The east-oriented tributary joining the Loutre River near Big Spring is the Warren Branch. Note how the Warren Branch has at least two significant north and north-northeast oriented tributaries from the south. Americus is a small town located in the north-northeast-oriented Dry Fork valley and will be a reference point in the northwest corner of figure 7, which is a more detailed topographic map of the region south and east of Americus. In brief the figure 6 drainage routes began to develop as the deep Missouri River valley eroded headward into the region to capture the immense south and southeast oriented flood flow. South oriented deep tributary valleys then began to erode headward along and across the south-oriented flood flow routes, although some tributary valleys were more successful than others and were able capture flood flow from adjacent flood flow routes, which resulted in headward erosion of southeast-oriented and even southwest-oriented valleys. Such captures resulted in complex valley systems and also in flood flow reversals on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes. For example, the north-oriented Warren Branch tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes. Sometimes, but not always through valleys can be seen crossing drainage divides linking north-oriented stream valleys with south-oriented stream valleys on the other side. The alignment of valleys and the through valleys document former south-oriented flood flow channel locations. Sometimes the through valleys are deep. For example the highway between Big Spring and McKittrick uses a water eroded through valley where it crosses the drainage divide between the southwest-oriented Loutre River valley and the southeast-oriented Loutre River valley Several such through valleys cross that drainage divide and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow routes which were beheaded by headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Loutre River valley along the present day Loutre River valley route to the north.

Detailed map of Dry Fork-Warden Branch drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 7 provides a detailed topographic map of the Dry Fork-Warden Branch drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 6 above. Americus is the small town located in the figure 7 northwest corner and is located in the north-northwest and north-northeast oriented Dry Fork valley. Starkenburg is a small town near the figure 7 southwest corner. The edge of the Missouri River valley can be seen in the figure 7 southeast corner area. The Loutre River meanders in its large valley in a southwest direction from the northeast corner area to the figure 7 center and then the valley turns so the river meanders in a southeast direction to the figure 7 east edge (south half) and joins the Missouri River east of the figure 7 southeast corner. Warden Branch originates in the section 14 and 13 area north of Starkenburg and flows in a, southeast, east-southeast, and northeast direction to join the Loutre River at its elbow of capture (where it changes from flowing in a southwest direction to flowing in a southeast direction). Modoc Creek flows in a southeast direction across section 23 just west of Starkenburg and joins the Missouri River south of the figure 7 map area. Just east of Starkenburg is a south-oriented Modoc Creek tributary valley which is linked by a through valley with the Warden Branch headwaters valley. The map contour interval is 20 feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 740 and 760 feet. Looking at adjacent hills on either side of the through valley first impressions are the through valley is relatively narrow and may only be 100 feet deep (the hill immediately to the east rises to more than 840 feet and to the west even higher). But following the drainage divide further to the west finds elevations greater than 900 feet and Boland Knob in section 20 (to the east) has a spot elevation of 898 feet at its top. In other word what looked like a narrow through valley was actually a channel eroded into the floor of what was once a much broader south-oriented flood flow channel (extending completely across at least three sections from the figure 7 west edge to Boland Knob). And east of Boland Knob is the Loutre River valley suggesting the through was even broader. Much shallower through valleys can be seen crossing the drainage divide between north-oriented Dry Fork and the southeast-oriented Warden Branch headwaters. For example near the corner of sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 a shallow through valley has a floor elevation of between 840 and 860 feet with elevations on either side rising to more than 900 feet (920 feet if one looks just west of the figure 7 map area). The through valley provides evidence of south-oriented flood flow routes which were beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Loutre River valley north of the figure 7 map area to erode the north-oriented Dry Fork valley. Also note several well-developed north-south oriented through valleys crossing the drainage divide between the southwest-oriented Loutre River valley and the southeast-oriented Loutre River valley in the figure 7 east half.

Bear Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 8 illustrates the Bear Creek-Big Creek drainage divide area north and east of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. High Hill is the small town located in the figure 8 southwest quadrant, Hawk Point is a larger town located in the northeast quadrant, and Bellflower is located in the northwest quadrant. New Truxton is located in the figure 8 north center area and Truxton is located north of New Truxton. The West Fork Cuivre River can be seen along the north edge of the figure 8 northeast quadrant. South-oriented drainage in the figure 8 southwest corner flows to the Loutre River and then to the Missouri River. Bear Creek (north) originates as a north-northwest oriented stream north of High Hill and turns to flow in a northeast direction to join the West Fork Cuivre River just north of the figure 8 north center edge. West of Bear Creek are northeast- and north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributaries. Bear Creek tributaries from the west are short and usually oriented in southeast directions. Tributaries from the east are much longer and are oriented in north and north-northwest directions. This evidence suggests the northeast-oriented Bear Creek valley eroded headward across south, south-southeast, and/or southeast oriented flood flow routes. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Bear Creek tributary valleys. At the same time additional northeast-oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributary valleys beheaded and reversed flood flow routes to the newly eroded Bear Creek valley before flood waters could erode long Bear Creek tributary valleys from the north and west. East of Bear Creek is north and north-northeast oriented Camp Creek, which joins the West Fork Cuivre River just east of the figure 8 north center edge. Note how Camp Creek headwaters and tributaries, including Camp Branch, are oriented in north directions These north-oriented Camp Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of south-oriented flood flow routes beheaded by headward erosion of the deep West Fork Cuivre River valley and the north-northeast oriented Camp Creek valley segment. The northeast- and east-oriented stream in the figure 8 southeast quadrant is Big Creek, which flows directly to the Cuivre River east of the figure 8 map area. Yeater Branch is a north and east-southeast oriented Big Creek tributary seen in the figure 8 southeast quadrant that illustrates how Big Creek headwaters are oriented in north directions before turning to flow in northeast and east directions. The multiple north-oriented tributaries provide evidence headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley also beheaded and reversed multiple south-oriented flood flow routes.

Camp Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 9 illustrates the Camp Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area located south and slightly west of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Warrenton is the town located in the figure 9 southeast corner. High Hill is located in the figure 9 west center area, Jonesburg is located on the railroad line east of High Hill and Pendleton is located midway between Jonesburg and Warrenton. Note how the railroad is located on the asymmetric West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide. Bear Creek (south) flows in a south-southeast and west-southwest direction in the figure 9 southwest quadrant region south of High Hill and flows to Loutre River, which flows to the Missouri River. East of the Bear Creek (south) drainage basin all streams flowing to the figure 9 south edge are Missouri River tributaries. North of High Hill and extending east to Joneburg are north-northwest oriented headwaters of Bear Creek (north) and/or of north-oriented Bear Creek (north) tributaries, with Bear Creek (north) flowing to the West Fork Cuivre River. Between Jonesburg and Pendleton are headwaters of north-oriented Camp Creek tributaries including north-oriented Camp Branch. East of Penleton are north-oriented headwaters of Big Creek and Big Creek tributaries, with Big Creek being an east oriented Cuivre River tributary. No deep north-south oriented through valleys cross the asymmetric West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide or Big Creek-Missouri River drainage divide suggesting south-oriented flood flow was fairly evenly distributed across the entire figure 9 map area. Headward erosion of the Big Creek valley first beheaded and reversed flood flow routes, but headward erosion of the Big Creek valley ended when headward erosion of the West Fork Cuivre River valley to the north beheaded and reversed flood flow routes west of the actively eroding east- and northeast-oriented Big Creek valley head (which was actually the head of the east-southeast oriented Yeater Branch valley). As already mentioned the reversal of flood flow to erode the north-oriented West Fork Cuivre River tributary valleys occurred in sequence from east to west, meaning reversed flood flow on newly beheaded flood flow routes could capture south-oriented flood flow from west of the actively eroding West Fork Cuivre River valley head. Such captures created northeast and north-northeast oriented flood flow movements which eroded northeast and north-northeast oriented tributary valleys, which also beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes.

Detailed map of Camp Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Camp Creek-Missouri River 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 Camp Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area between Jonesburg and Pendelton, which was seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Jonesburg is located in the figure 10 northwest corner and Pendelton is located in the southeast quadrant, with both towns being located on the West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide. South-oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 south edge are Missouri River tributaries. North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 north edge are West Fork Cuivre River tributaries. Most of the north-oriented streams are Camp Creek headwaters and/or headwaters of north-oriented Camp Creek tributaries with two exceptions. The north-oriented streams in the figure 10 northwest corner are Bear Creek (north) headwaters (with Bear Creek flowing to the West Fork Cuivre River) and north-oriented Yeater Branch, which flows to the figure 10 east edge (south of the northeast corner), and which is a Big Creek tributary (which is a Cuivre River tributary). As previously noted the railroad follows the drainage divide, which suggests there are fewer elevation changes along the drainage divide than to the north or south. A close look at the drainage divide reversal some shallow north-south oriented valleys eroded across it. One such shallow valley is located in section 22 south and west from Pendelton. The map contour interval is 20 feet and the valley floor elevation is between 900 and 920 feet and elevations on either side rise to more than 920 feet. Continuing west along the drainage divide another similar valley can be seen in section 21. Further west along the divide a more subtle north-northeast to south-southwest oriented valley can be seen in section 17. The next identifiable group of north-south oriented valleys are in the section 12 and 7 area in and around Jonesburg. The valleys are all shallow, but they link north-oriented valleys with south-oriented valleys and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow routes prior to headward erosion of the West Fork Cuive River valley. At that time flood waters could freely flow south across what is now a north-oriented slope to the West Fork Cuivre River valley. In other words, while the valleys crossing the West Fork Cuivre River-Missouri River drainage divide are shallow, the flood flow reversal caused by headward erosion of the deep West Fork Cuivre River valley completely changed the slope north of the drainage divide.

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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