Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri, USA

· Missouri, MO Grand River, MO Missouri River
Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to interpret Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri. Medicine Creek and Locust Creek are streams originating in southern Iowa and flowing in a south direction across Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri (in that order) to join the southeast and south oriented Grand River, which then flows to the Missouri River. Medicine Creek is located west of Locust Creek and between Medicine Creek and Locust Creek are south-oriented Muddy Creek, Parsons Creek, and south-oriented Locust Creek tributaries.The closely spaced and roughly parallel stream valleys and their tributary valleys suggest present day valleys eroded headward along south-oriented flood flow channels in what was a large south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. The south-oriented anastomosing channel complex had been formed by massive south-oriented melt water floods moving from a rapidly decaying thick North American ice sheet (located north of the study region) to the actively eroding southeast and south oriented Grand River valley. Prior to headward erosion of deep south-oriented valleys the anastomosing channel complex consisted of ever-changing diverging and converging flood flow channels. Headward erosion of deep south-oriented valleys along what are today major south-oriented drainage routes beheaded less successful diverging south-oriented flood flow channels to adjacent south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded diverging flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented (and barbed) tributary valleys. Shallow through valleys link present day north-oriented barbed tributary valleys with adjacent south-oriented valleys. Sample topographic maps illustrate evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation.

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 Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn 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 links 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 Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area landform evidence in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn 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.

Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Medicine Creek-Locust Creek 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 illustrates a location map for the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri. Missouri is the state occupying much of the figure 1 map area and is labeled. Iowa is the state north of Missouri, Illinois is east of Iowa and Missouri and the south-oriented Mississippi River forms the Illinois western border. West of Missouri in the figure 1 southwest corner region is the state of Kansas. The Missouri River flows from the figure 1 west center edge to St. Joseph, Missouri and then turns to flow in a southwest direction before turning to flow in a southeast direction to Kansas City, Missouri. From Kansas City the Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick and then turns to flow to Jefferson City located along the figure 1 south edge (Jefferson City is the state capital and is shown with a star in a circle, but the name has been cut off in the figure 1 map). From Jefferson City the Missouri River flows in more of an east direction to join the south-oriented Mississippi River near the figure 1 southeast corner. The Grand River is a southeast and south oriented tributary which joins the Missouri River near Brunswick, Missouri and which has several major south-oriented tributaries. South-oriented Grand River tributaries shown and labeled in figure 1 include (from east to west) Locust Creek, Medicine Creek, and the Thompson River with its south-oriented Weldon River tributary. Locust Creek and Medicine Creek originate just north of the Iowa-Missouri state line in the figure 1 north center and flow in south directions parallel to each other to join the southeast and south oriented Grand River a short distance upstream from Brunswick. The Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri represents the entire Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area between the Iowa-Missouri state line and the southeast-oriented Grand River. Drainage divide areas north of the Medicine and Locust Creek headwaters areas are described in the Chariton River-Grand River drainage divide area in Lucas, Decatur, and Wayne Counties, Iowa essay and the Chariton River and tributary drainage divide area landform origins in Appanoose County, Iowa essay. Areas directly west of Medicine Creek are described in the Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri essay. These and other adjacent drainage basins can be found by selecting Chariton River or MO Grand River on the sidebar category list
  • Based on topographic map evidence presented in this essay and in other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn Counties, Missouri was eroded by immense south-oriented glacial melt water floods. The flood source was a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, which at the time the figure 1 drainage networks evolved was located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet had been located in a deep “hole” created by the ice sheet’s great weight and also by deep glacial erosion. The figure 1 map area represents a region on what had been the deep “hole’s” southern rim, although deep melt water flood water erosion has removed almost all topographic evidence of the southern rim. The ice sheet had at one time been comparable in size to the modern-day Antarctic Ice Sheet, if not larger, and at least late in its history had melted fast. Melt water floods overwhelmed whatever drainage systems existed and flowed from the decaying ice sheet in a south direction across the entire figure 1 map area (and a much larger region) directly to the Gulf of Mexico. The present day drainage network evolved as deep valleys eroded headward from the Gulf of Mexico to capture the south-oriented flood flow. The most successful of these valleys was the Mississippi River valley, which with its tributaries from the east and west captured much of the south-oriented flood flow. The Missouri River drainage basin is located west of the Mississippi River and evolved during this flood capture process. South of the figure 1 map area in the state of Arkansas the southeast oriented Arkansas River valley eroded headward prior to headward erosion of the southeast-oriented White River valley, which beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley and its east and northeast oriented Osage River tributary (in Missouri, but south of figure 1 map area) next beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded White River valley and flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Missouri River and Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley north and west of Jefferson City, Missouri then captured south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Osage River valley.
  • South-oriented tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley north wall along the south-oriented flood flow routes while the Grand River- Shoal Creek valley eroded headward across south-oriented flood flow routes moving directly to the newly eroded Missouri River. Headward erosion of southeast-oriented Grand River valley next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded east-oriented Shoal Creek valley. At the same time headward erosion of southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributary valleys, including the southeast-oriented Des Moines River valley, was beheading south-oriented flood flow routes to actively eroding south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Study of the figure 1 map area reveals a pattern of closely spaced south-oriented Missouri River and Grand River tributaries flowing from southern Iowa across northern Missouri and a similar pattern of closely spaced southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributaries in northeast Missouri and southeast Iowa. The closely space parallel drainage routes suggests the south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys were initiated as channels in what was once an immense south-oriented anastomosing channel complex captured by Missouri River valley headward erosion. The southeast-oriented Mississippi River tributary orientations suggest those drainage routes were initiated as channels in what was once a giant southeast-oriented anastomosing channel, which beheaded the south-oriented anastomosing channel complex supplying flood water to the newly eroded Missouri River valley. Samples of topographic map evidence supporting this anastomosing channel complex origin for the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area landforms are illustrated and discussed in the following essay.

Detailed location map for Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area

Figure 2: Detailed location map for Medicine Creek-Locust Creek 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 Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in Putnam, Sullivan, and Linn, Counties, Missouri. County boundaries are shown and names are given. Mercer, Putnam, and Schuyler Counties are in Missouri and the west to east oriented Iowa-Missouri state line is located directly north of them and south of the figure 2 north edge. The Grand River flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 2 west edge (south half) across Livingston County to the figure 2 south edge (west of center). Medicine Creek originates a short distance north of the figure 2 map area and flows in a south direction in western Putnam County to the Sullivan County northwest corner and then in a south direction along the Sullivan County west border to Galt (in Grundy County, but on Grundy-Sullivan County border). From Galt Medicine Creek flows in a south-southwest and south direction into eastern Livingston County and joins the Grand River a short west of the Linn County southwest corner. Note how most Medicine Creek tributaries shown are also oriented in south directions and flow parallel to Medicine Creek before joining Medicine Creek. For example, in figure 2 Muddy Creek originates north of Humphreys in southwest Sullivan County and flows in a south-southwest direction across the Linn County northwest corner to “join” parallel Medicine Creek in eastern Livingston County. Locust Creek also originates just north of the figure 2 map area and flows in a south direction just east of Midway in eastern Putnam County (West Locust Creek is the south-oriented stream just west of Midway). From Putnam County Locust Creek flows in a south direction across west-central Sullivan County and western Linn County to join the Grand River at the figure 2 south edge. Note  how Locust Creek tributaries are almost all south-oriented and also flow parallel to Locust Creek for considerable distances. There are two West Locust Creeks shown in the figure 2 map area. The northern West Locust Creek originates near the Iowa-Missouri state line and joins Locust Creek near the Putnam-Sullivan County border. The southern West Locust Creek originates in southwest Putnam County (west of the northern West Locust Creek) and flows in a southwest and south direction into and across western Sullivan County to join Locust Creek in northern Linn County. East Locust Creek originates a short distance east of Pollock on the Putnam-Sullivan County border and flows in a south-southwest direction to Boynton, Milan, and Cora before joining Locust Creek near the Sullivan-Linn County border. East of Locust Creek in Linn County are other south-oriented streams, which flow to the south and south-southwest oriented Yellow River, which joins the Grand River south of the figure 2 map area. Also note south-oriented Parson Creek, which originates in southwest Sullivan County and which flows in a south direction across in western Linn County (between Medicine Creek and Locust Creek) directly to the Grand River.

South end of Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: South end of Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 3 illustrates the south end of the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area. The east-southeast oriented Grand River is located a short distance south of the figure 3 map area and all south oriented streams flowing to the figure 3 south edge flow directly to the Grand River. Wheeling is the town located in the figure 3 west center area. The north-south oriented Livingston-Linn County line is located one mile east of Wheeling (the grid defines squares one mile on a side). Meadville is the town located near the figure 3 center and Laclede is the town near the figure 3 east center edge. Medicine Creek is labeled and flows from the figure 3 west edge (north half) in a south and south-southeast direction to the figure 3 south edge. Immediately east of Medicine Creek and sharing the Medicine Creek valley is Muddy Creek, which flows in a south-southwest, south, and south-southeast direction from the figure 3 north edge (near northwest corner) to the figure 3 south edge  (west half). Between Wheeling and Meadville is south-oriented Parson Creek and its south-oriented tributary, Little Parson Creek. Between Meadville and Laclede is south-oriented Locust Creek. West of Locust Creek is a south-oriented tributary, Hickory Branch, which is entirely located in the figure 3 map area. Note how the south-oriented Hickory Branch headwaters are linked by a shallow through valley with a north-northeast oriented (and barbed) Locust Creek tributary. The north-northeast oriented Locust Creek tributary valley, the shallow through valley, and the south-oriented Hickory Branch valley provide evidence of what was once a diverging and converging flood flow channel in what was a large flood formed south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. South-oriented flood flow to the diverging and converging Hickory Branch channel was beheaded when the deep south-oriented Locust Creek valley eroded headward along the channel that now is the south-oriented Locust Creek valley. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-northeast oriented Locust Creek tributary valley. East of Locust Creek and flowing from near the figure 3 northeast corner is a south-southwest oriented Muddy Creek, which joins Locust Creek near Laclede. Also in the figure 3 southeast corner area is south-oriented Turkey Creek, which south of the figure 3 map area joins south- and southwest-oriented Yellow Creek, which then joins the Grand River. A close look at figure 3 drainage divides reveals a number of other subtle shallow through valleys crossing drainage divides, although they are better seen on more detailed topographic maps. Orientations of tributaries to all major figure 3 south-oriented streams and the shallow through valleys provide evidence of numerous former diverging and converging flood flow channels.

Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area southeast of Laredo

Figure 4: Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area southeast of Laredo. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 4 illustrates the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area southeast of Laredo, Missouri and north of the figure 3 map area. Laredo is the town located in the figure 4 northwest corner. Medicine Creek flows in a south direction along the figure 4 west edge. East of Medicine Creek is south-southwest oriented Muddy Creek, which flows from the figure 4 north edge (just east of the county line) across the Linn County line into the Grundy County southeast corner and then in a south direction into Livingston County and then to the figure 4 south edge. Little Muddy Creek is south-southwest oriented Muddy Creek tributary flowing from the figure 4 north center edge to join Muddy Creek in the figure 4 southwest quadrant. Coon Creek is the south-oriented stream originating near the figure 4 center and located directly east of the Linn County line. East of Coon Creek is Smokey Creek, which originates north of the figure 4 center and which flows to the figure 4 south center edge. East of Smokey Creek is south, south-southwest, and south oriented Parson Creek which flows from the figure 4 north edge (east of center) to the south edge (slightly east of center). South of the figure 4 map area Coon Creek and Smokey Creek are Parson Creek tributaries and Parson Creek flows directly to the Grand River. Locust Creek flows in a south-southwest direction from the figure 4 northeast corner to join south-oriented West Locust Creek in the figure 4 east center and then to flow in a south direction to the figure 4 south edge. Lowes Branch is the named northwest-oriented tributary joining Locust Creek north of the figure 4 east center edge. Generally tributaries to major figure 4 south-oriented streams are oriented in south directions, although inspection of figure 4 map reveals several barbed north oriented tributaries. For example, in the figure 4 southwest quadrant a north-northwest and southwest oriented tributary joins Little Muddy Creek just before Little Muddy Creek joins Muddy Creek. Or in the figure 4 east center region southeast-oriented Lick Branch flowing to the south-oriented Locust Creek is joined by a north- and east-oriented tributary and just to the north, northeast and east oriented Linn Branch fits the definition of a barbed tributary. Also close inspection of the figure 4 map reveals several shallow through valleys crossing drainage divides. The shallow through valleys are subtle even when seen on more detailed topographic maps, but can be observed on the figure 4 map. For example in the figure 4 northwest quadrant south of Laredo is a smaller town of Alpha. East of Alpha is a southeast-oriented Muddy Creek tributary, which is linked by a shallow through valley to a short west-oriented Medicine Creek tributary valley to the west. The map contour is ten meters and shallow through valleys when visible are defined by a single contour line on each side. Tributary orientations and the shallow through valleys again permit at least partial reconstructions of south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels captured by headward erosion of the deeper valleys

Medicine Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Medicine Creek-East Locust Creek 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 Medicine Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area north and slightly east of the figure 4 map area. The north-south oriented Sullivan-Grundy County line is located near the figure 5 west edge. Humphreys is the town located in the figure 5 southwest quadrant and Milan is located in the figure 5 northeast quadrant. Osgood is the smaller town located in the northwest quadrant and Reger is the smaller town located on the highway east of Humphreys in the southeast quadrant. Medicine Creek is the south and south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 5 north edge (near northwest corner) to the west edge (near southwest corner). Muddy Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream originating in the figure 5 northwest quadrant and flowing just east of Humphreys to the figure 5 south edge (near southwest corner). West Locust Creek is the south, south-southeast, and south oriented stream meandering in the figure 5 center region from the north to south edge. Locust Creek also meanders in a south direction from the figure 5 north edge (east of center) to the south edge (again east of center) and Reger is located in the Locust Creek valley. Further east is south-southwest oriented East Locust Creek, which flows from near the figure 5 northeast corner past Milan to the figure 5 south edge. Little East Locust Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream flowing across the figure 5 southeast corner. South of the figure 5 map area Little East Locust Creek joins East Locust Creek, which then joins Locust Creek, which is then joined by West Locust Creek as seen in figure 4. Note how Medicine Creek has a number of short northwest-oriented tributaries in the figure 5 southwest quadrant and a longer northwest-oriented tributary east of Osgood. Also note how the longer northwest-oriented tributary is linked by a shallow through valley with headwaters of south-oriented Muddy Creek. The valley orientations and the shallow through valley provide evidence of a former diverging flood flow channel, which south of figure 5 eventually rejoins the Medicine Creek valley (see figure 3). Just east of the Muddy Creek headwaters is a northeast-oriented (and barbed) tributary to south-oriented West Locust Creek. Close inspection of the drainage divide between that northeast-oriented tributary and headwaters of a southeast and south-southeast oriented West Locust Creek tributary directly to the south reveals a shallow through valley linking the two opposing West Locust Creek tributary valleys. The tributary valleys and the through valley provide evidence of what was once a diverging and converging flood flow channel. Close inspection of the figure 5 map area reveals additional through valleys and barbed tributaries, although detailed topographic maps provide even better evidence. Figure 6 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area near Milan.

Detailed map of Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 6 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area near Milan which was seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Locust Creek meanders in a south direction in the figure 6 west half. The meanders are incised meanders and at least some of the incised meander orientations are on the same alignments as southeast and northwest oriented tributaries to south-oriented Locust Creek. For example in section 4 west of Milan a northwest-oriented tributary joins Locust Creek at an elbow of capture where a southeast oriented Locust Creek segment turns to flow in a south direction. Also at that elbow of capture a south-southwest tributary from the north (most of which is north of figure 6) joins Locust Creek. Further south in section 8 a northwest-oriented Locust Creek segment flows to meet an east-southeast oriented tributary from the west. And, near the corner of sections 4, 5, 8, and 9 a northwest-oriented tributary valley drains to meet a short southeast oriented Locust Creek segment. Whether all of the incised meanders can be related to the southeast- and northwest-oriented tributary alignments can be debated, but at least some of the incised meanders appear to have been formed as the deep Locust Creek valley eroded headward along first one flood flow route and then another flood flow route. The northwest-oriented tributary valleys also provide evidence of reversals of flood waters on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. Note in section 9 how a north-northwest oriented Locust Creek tributary valley is linked by a shallow through valley with a south-southwest oriented Locust Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 940 and 950 feet. Elevations west of the through valley rise to more than 960 feet and east of the through valley elevations rise even higher. The tributary valley orientations and the shallow through valley provide evidence of what was once a diverging and converging south-oriented flood flow channel, which had been eroded into a surface equivalent to the highest figure 6 elevations today. The south-oriented stream just east of Milan is East Locust Creek. Note northwest and west-northwest oriented tributaries to East Locust Creek. Headwaters are linked with south-oriented East Locust Creek tributary valleys although the shallow through valleys are generally defined by only one or two contour lines along the crests of the present day drainage divides. For example in the section 12 southwest quadrant shallow through valleys defined by two contour lines on each side link a northwest-oriented East Locust Creek tributary valley with a south and south-southwest oriented East Locust Creek tributary valley.

West Locust Creek-West Yellow Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 7 illustrates the West Locust Creek-West Yellow Creek drainage divide area south and east of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Reger is the small town in the figure 7 northwest quadrant and Browning is the larger town located along the Sullivan-Linn County border in the southwest quadrant. West Locust Creek is the westernmost of the south-oriented streams flowing from the figure 7 north edge to the south edge and is near the figure 7 west edge. Locust Creek is the south-oriented stream directly to the east (Reger is in the Locust Creek valley). East Locust Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 7 north center edge to join Locust Creek near Browning (a railroad line is located in the East Locust Creek valley). Cora is a small town located in the East Locust Creek valley north of the figure 7 center and will be seen again in figure 8, which is a more detailed topographic map of the West Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area west of Cora. The south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 7 north edge (east of center) to join East Locust Creek north of Browning is Little East Locust Creek. The south-oriented stream near the figure 7 east edge is West Yellow Creek, which is a Yellow Creek tributary. Between Browning and West Yellow Creek in the figure 7 southeast quadrant is south-southwest oriented Long Branch, which south of figure 7 flows for a considerable distance between south-oriented Locust Creek and West Yellow Creek before finally joining West Yellow Creek. Note the northwest-oriented (and barbed) Locust Creek and East Locust Creek tributaries in the Browning area. A close inspection of their headwaters areas reveals they are linked by shallow through valleys to south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 7 south edge (and to Long Branch south of the figure 7 map area). Paw Paw Creek is a south-southwest and west oriented tributary joining Little East Locust Creek near the small town of Paw Paw in the figure 7 center region. Observe how northwest-oriented (and barbed) Paw Paw Creek tributaries are linked by shallow through valleys with the south-southwest oriented Long Branch headwaters valley. Also note in section 6 (north and east of Paw Paw) through valleys linking the Little East Locust Creek valley with the Paw Paw Creek valley. The deepest of the through valleys is defined by two ten-meter contour lines on each side. The through valleys provide evidence of diverging and converging flood flow channels and also evidence the anastomosing channel complex also included channels east of the Locust Creek drainage basin.

Detailed map of West Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 8 is a detailed topographic map of the West Locust Creek-East Locust Creek drainage divide area located west of Cora and seen in less detail in figure 7 above. Cora is the small town located near the figure 8 east center edge. West Locust Creek is the south-oriented stream near the figure 8 west edge, Locust Creek is the south-oriented stream near the figure 8 center, and East Locust Creek is the south-oriented stream near the figure 8 east edge. Note how in the figure 8 northwest quadrant West Locust Creek has north-oriented (and barbed) tributaries and how those north-oriented tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented West Locust Creek tributary valleys. For example in the section 12 southwest quadrant there is northwest-southeast oriented through valley defined by three 10-foot contour lines on each side. Also note in the section 1 southeast quadrant an equally deep through valley linking a northeast-oriented (and barbed) Locust Creek tributary valley with a south-southwest oriented West Locust Creek tributary valley. The north-oriented barbed tributary valleys, the through valleys, and the south-southwest oriented West Locust Creek tributary valley provide evidence of diverging and converging flood flow channels that once crossed the figure 8 map area. At that time flood waters were flowing across the entire figure 8 map area on a surface at least as high as the highest figure 8 elevations today. Further east note northwest-oriented Locust Creek tributaries near the figure 8 north edge and how a northwest-oriented tributary valley in section 32 is linked by a series of shallow through valleys with a dismembered south-southeast oriented through valley extending across section 5 into the section 8 northeast quadrant. Headward erosion of a west-southwest oriented Locust Creek tributary valley dismembered what had been a south-southeast flood flow route to a south-oriented Locust Creek tributary valley which joins Locust Creek just south of the figure 8 map area. Also note in the section 8 west half a northwest-oriented Locust Creek tributary valley linked by a shallow through valley with the same south-oriented Locust Creek tributary in the section 8 southeast quadrant. The through valleys are not deep relative to valleys on either side, however the through valleys and adjacent valley orientations do provide evidence of diverging and converging flood flow channels that once crossed the figure 8 map area.

Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in southern Putnam County

Figure 9: Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area in southern Putnam County. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 9 uses a reduced size topographic map to show the Medicine Creek-Locust Creek drainage divide area along the Putnam County-Sullivan County border region and is located north of the figure 5 map area (there is a gap between figure 5 and figure 9). County lines are shown and labeled. Lucerne is the town located in the figure 9 northwest quadrant and Newtown is located in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. Medicine Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 9 north edge near Lucerne to the south edge in the figure 9 west half. Barber Creek is the south-oriented Medicine Creek tributary located west of Lucerne and joining Medicine Creek near Newtown. Elm Branch is the south and southwest oriented tributary joining Medicine Creek east of Lucerne. Terre Haute is a place-name in the figure 9 north center area. The southwest and south oriented stream originating near Terre Haute and flowing to the figure 9 south edge is Little West Locust Creek, which is the headwaters for West Locust Creek seen in figures 5 and 7 above. Note how the southwest-oriented Little West Locust Creek valley is linked by through valleys with north-oriented Elm Branch tributary valleys. Also note how a north-northwest oriented Medicine Creek tributary valley south of Lucerne is linked by a shallow through valley with a south-oriented Little West Locust Creek tributary valley. Figure 10 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Medicine Creek-Little West Locust Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate that through valley. Further note the prominent northwest-oriented (and barbed) Little West Locust Creek tributary. The south-oriented stream near the figure 9 east edge is Locust Creek and the south-southeast oriented tributary joining Locust Creek near the county line is West Locust Creek (this is a second West Locust Creek and is independent of the West Locust Creek seen in previous figures). Note northwest-oriented Locust Creek tributaries especially Watkins Creek in the figure 9 northeast corner region. Northwest-oriented tributary valleys to the major south-oriented figure 9 streams were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded diverging south-oriented flood flow channels as deep south-oriented valleys eroded headward into the figure 9 map region. Tributary valley orientations and shallow through valleys provide evidence of at least some of the diverging and converging flood flow channels.

Detailed map of Medicine Creek-West Locust Creek drainage divide area

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

 

Figure 10 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the Medicine Creek-Little West Locust Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Medicine Creek flows in a south direction in the large valley located in the figure 10 west half. Elm Branch is a south and west oriented Medicine Creek tributary seen along the figure 10 north center edge. Note the north-northwest oriented Medicine Creek tributary flowing from section 17 to join Medicine Creek as a barbed tributary in section 7. Another northwest-oriented stream joins Medicine Creek as a barbed tributary in section 18. The southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 10 east center edge to the south center edge is Little West Locust Creek and south of the figure 10 map area flows in a south direction to become West Locust Creek, which eventually joins south-oriented Locust Creek. Note also the unnamed southwest and south oriented Little West Locust Creek tributary flowing from section 16 to and across section 20 to join Little West Locust Creek near the figure 10 south edge. Further note the through valley located in section 17 linking the south-oriented segment of that southwest and south oriented tributary valley with the section 17 north-northwest oriented Medicine Creek tributary valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 980 and 990 feet. Elevations west of the through valley rise to at least 1036 feet (see spot elevation in section 20 northwest quadrant) and east of the through valley elevations rise to more than 1050 feet. In other words the through valley provides evidence of what was once a diverging south-oriented flood flow channel leading from the present day Medicine Creek valley alignment to the south-oriented West Locust Creek valley alignment and the channel was at least 46 feet deep and probably deeper. Headward erosion of the deep Medicine Creek valley along the south-oriented channel following the present day Medicine Creek valley alignment beheaded the diverging south-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north end of the diverging flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-northwest oriented Medicine Creek tributary valley.

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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