Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in Buchanan and Platte Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map evidence is used to interpret Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in Buchanan and Platte Counties, Missouri. The Platte River referred to in this essay originates in southern Iowa and flows in a south direction into northwest Missouri and then into eastern Buchanan County where it flows in a south direction just east of St. Joseph, Missouri. From the St. Joseph area the Platte River continues to flow in a south and south-southwest direction into and across Platte County where it eventually joins the south-southeast oriented Missouri River. The south-southeast oriented Missouri River turns at St. Joseph, Missouri to flow in a southwest direction before turning to flow in a south-southeast direction again. The drainage divide between the Missouri River to the west and the Platte River to the east was eroded by immense south-oriented melt water floods from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, the southern margin of which was located in southeastern South Dakota. The deep south-southeast oriented Missouri River valley eroded headward along and across a major flood flow route. South-oriented tributary valleys including the Platte River and other south-oriented valleys eroded headward from the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. Headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Missouri River valley segment, which eroded across the south-oriented flood flow, reversed large volumes of flood waters on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. These large-scale reversals of flood flow eroded north-oriented tributary valleys, Headward erosion of tributary valleys from the deep south-oriented Platte River and other south-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys also beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes to erode north-oriented barbed tributary valleys. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes valley orientations, numerous barbed tributaries, elbows of capture, and shallow through valleys eroded across drainage divides.

Preface:

The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is one of a series of essays describing similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored deep glacial erosion paradigm, which is fundamentally different from most commonly accepted North American glacial history interpretations. Project essays available at this site may be found by selecting desired Missouri River tributaries and/or states from this essay’s sidebar category list.

Introduction:

  • The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore the Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in Buchanan and Platte 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 Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area landform evidence in Buchanan and Platte 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.

Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area location map (select and click on maps to enlarge). National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

  • Figure 1 provides a Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area in Buchanan and Platte Counties, Missouri location map. Figure 1 shows a region in northwest Missouri, southwest Iowa, southeast Nebraska, and northeast Kansas. The south-southeast oriented Missouri River flows from the figure 1 north edge near Omaha, Nebraska (Council Bluffs, Iowa is east of Omaha) to Kansas City, Missouri (Kansas City, Kansas is west of the river) and then turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick, Missouri before turning to flow in a south-southeast direction to the figure 1 south edge. South of the figure 1 map area the Missouri River turns to flow in more of an east direction to join the south-oriented Mississippi River (which is located east of the figure 1 map area). Note how north of Kansas City the Missouri River is oriented in southwest direction for a short distance downstream from St. Joseph, Missouri. The Platte River originates near Creston, Iowa (near the figure 1 north center edge) and flows in a south-southwest and south direction to the St. Joseph area, but does not join the Missouri River there. Instead the Platte River continues to flow in a south direction to join the Missouri River near Platte City, Missouri (which is located just north of Kansas City). The Buchanan and Platte County area in Missouri includes St. Joseph and extends south to the Kansas City area and this essay is concerned with landform origins in the Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area located downstream from St. Joseph. Note how in northwest Missouri most Missouri River tributaries and/or their tributaries are closely spaced and flow parallel to each other in a south direction generally have elongate drainage basins. A somewhat similar pattern can be seen for Kansas River tributaries in northeast Kansas.The One Hundred and Two River is a south-oriented Platte River tributary also originating in southern Iowa, which joins the Platte River near St. Joseph. The Nodaway River-One Hundred and Two River drainage divide area landform origins in Andrews and Nodaway Counties essay describes the region immediately to the north of St. Joseph. This essay and other essays describing Missouri River drainage divide areas in Missouri  can be found in the list under Missouri or MO Missouri River on the sidebar category list.
  • Drainage routes seen in figure 1 were established during immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across the entire figure 1 map area. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, the southern margin of which (at the time figure 1 drainage routes were established) was located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet had been large, probably comparable in size to the present day Antarctic Ice Sheet, and had been located in a deep “hole”. The deep “hole” had been created by a combination of deep glacial erosion and crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s great weight. The figure 1 map region was located along the deep “hole’s” southern rim and was deeply eroded by melt water flood erosion prior to the establishment of present day drainage routes. In other words, there are no preglacial drainage routes shown on figure 1, only drainage routes established as deep valleys and tributary valleys eroded headward into the figure 1 map area to capture immense south-oriented melt water floods. Initially the melt water floods probably over whelmed whatever drainage systems existed and flowed in a south direction across the figure 1 map area (and a much broader region) to reach the Gulf of Mexico. The south-oriented flood waters were then captured in sequence as deep tributary valleys eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Mississippi River valley in both east and west directions. 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. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley (preceded by its east and northeast oriented tributary valleys in southern Missouri) next beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded White River valley. Valleys of south-oriented Missouri River tributaries seen in figure 1 then eroded headward from the newly eroded Missouri River valley along the south-oriented flood flow routes, which were probably channels in a giant and ever-changing south-oriented anastomosing channel complex.

Detailed Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area location map

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

 

  • Figure 2 provides a slightly more detailed location map for the Missouri River-Platte River drainage divide area  located in Buchanan and Platte Counties, Missouri. County boundaries and names are shown. Andrew, Buchanan, and Platte Counties are located in Missouri while Doniphan, Atchison, and Leavenworth Counties are located in Kansas. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction along the Kansas-Missouri border from the figure 2 north edge (west half) to St. Joseph, Missouri (in Buchanan County) and then flows in a south-southwest direction along the Kansas-Missouri border to Atchison, Kansas before turning to flow in a southeast direction along the state border to Kansas City. From Kansas City the Missouri River meanders in an east direction near the figure 2 south edge to the figure 2 east edge. Note the Missouri River tributaries in Buchanan and Platte Counties. One of the most interesting tributaries in Buchanan County flows in a north and east direction (just south of Contrary Lake) to join the south-oriented Missouri River. This tributary, which on more detailed maps is named Contrary Creek, is a barbed tributary in that it flows in the opposite direction of the river to which it flows. Bee Creek is a north, south, and south-southwest oriented tributary originating in south central Buchanan County and joining the Missouri River near Beverly in Platte County. The north-oriented Bee Creek headwaters also flow in the opposite direction of the stream to which they flow. These barbed tributaries (and others seen on more detailed maps) provide evidence of large-scale flood flow reversals on the north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. The Platte River flows in a south direction from the figure 2 north center edge in eastern Andrew and Buchanan Counties to the Platte County northeast corner area and then turns to flow in a south-southwest direction to flow across Platte County and to join the Missouri River. Note in figure 2 the predominance of elongate south-oriented Platte River tributaries from the east and the parallel south-oriented One Hundred and Two River (just east of the Platte River north of St. Joseph). The closely spaced and parallel south-oriented drainage routes seen in the figure 2 map area suggest south-oriented valleys eroded headward along what were once channels in a large-scale south-oriented anastomosing channel complex which was captured by headward erosion of the deep southeast (and south-southwest) oriented Missouri River valley. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley the flood water flowed south across the region to what was then the actively eroding Marais Des Cygnes River valley and prior to headward of that valley to south-oriented Arkansas River tributary valleys.

Contrary Creek-Platte River drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 3 illustrates the Contrary Creek-Platte River drainage divide area south of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is the city straddling the figure 3 north center edge. The Missouri River can be seen meandering on the floor of the wide south-southwest oriented Missouri River valley just west of St. Joseph. Contrary Lake is an oxbow lake located just south of the northwest-oriented Missouri River meander segment. Note north–oriented Contrary Creek, which flows from the figure 3 south edge (west half) to the Missouri River valley edge (just south of St. Joseph) and then turns to flow in an east-oriented channel (which probably is a human constructed channel) to the figure 3 west edge (just south of center) to join the south-oriented Missouri River west of the figure 3 map area. Contrary Creek headwaters will be seen in figures 5 and 6 below. Contrary Creek is a classic barbed tributary and flows in the opposite direction of the river to which it flows. Other barbed tributaries can also be seen in the figure 3 map area. Whitehead Creek originates near the figure 3 center and flows in a north-northwest and northwest direction to join the south-oriented Missouri River near the highway bridge just west of St. Joseph. The Platte River is the south-oriented river located near the figure 3 east edge and meanders in its south-oriented valley from the figure 3 north edge to the south edge. The Platte River also has barbed tributaries, the most notable of which is Candy Creek located east of Whitehead Creek.Candy Creek flows in a north-northeast direction to enter the south-oriented Platte River valley. South of the north-oriented Whitehead Creek and Candy Creek headwaters are headwaters of south-oriented tributaries to southeast, east-northeast, and southeast oriented Pigeon Creek, which is a Platte River tributary. A close look at the drainage divide north of Pigeon Creek reveals shallow through valleys linking the north-oriented Whitehead Creek and Candy Creek valleys with the south-oriented Pigeon Creek tributary valleys. Figure 4 below provides a detailed topographic map to better illustrate the through valleys. The south-oriented stream at Willow Brook flows to south-oriented Bee Creek, which will be seen better in figures 5 and 6. In figure 3 a shallow through valley links a north-oriented Pigeon Creek tributary valley segment with the south-oriented Willow Brook valley. The valley orientations, barbed tributaries, elbows of capture (where a stream makes an abrupt change of direction), and shallow through valleys provide evidence headward erosion of the deep south-oriented Platte River valley and of the south-southwest oriented Missouri River valley beheaded diverging south-oriented flood flow channels in what was a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Missouri and Platte River tributary valleys. The number of north-oriented tributary valleys and the size of some those tributary valleys (especially the Contrary Creek valley) suggests the volume of reversed flood flow was very large, which suggests the volume of south-oriented flood water was much larger. Other essays describe the flood water origin as being an immense southeast and south oriented melt water river which was emerging from the mouth of a giant ice-walled and bedrock-floored canyon carved into the decaying ice sheet surface. Evidence for this ice-walled and bedrock-floored canyon is described in essays listed under North Dakota and South Dakota on the sidebar category list.

Detailed map of Whitehead Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 4 provides a detailed topographic map of the Whitehead Creek-Pigeon Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 4 above. Whitehead Creek originates in section 11 (just west of center) and flows in a north and north-northwest direction to the figure 4 north edge (the railroad follows Whitehead Creek). The unnamed northwest and north oriented stream in sections 10 and 3 is a Whitehead Creek tributary. Pigeon Creek originates near Maxey (just west of section 15 northwest corner) and flows in a southeast direction across section 15 to near the figure 4 south edge and then in an east-northeast direction into section 13 where it turns to flow in an east-southeast direction to the figure 4 southeast corner area. Note how Pigeon Creek has many south-oriented tributary valleys. Also note how the south-oriented tributary valleys west of the north-south major highway (in figure 4 center) are linked by shallow through valleys with north-oriented Whitehead Creek tributary and headwaters valleys. Perhaps the most obvious of these shallow through valleys is used by the railroad in section 11 and appears to have a valley floor elevation of slightly less than 1060 feet (the map contour interval is 20 feet). Hills on either side of the through valley rise to elevations greater than 1120 feet suggesting the through valley is at least 60 feet deep. Proceeding west along the drainage divide at least seven more somewhat shallower through valleys can be found. These shallow through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented diverging flood flow channels which were captured by headward erosion of the deep Pigeon Creek valley prior to beheading and reversal of south-oriented flood flow on the present day Whitehead Creek alignment by Missouri River valley headward erosion. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River subsequently beheaded the south-oriented flood flow route and reversed flood flow on the north and northwest end of the beheaded flood flow route eroded the north-oriented Whitehead Creek and tributary valleys. Candy Creek originates in the north half of section 12 and flows in an east and north-northeast direction to the figure 4 northeast corner area. Note how north-oriented Candy Creek tributary valleys are also linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Pigeon Creek tributary valleys. The through valley in the section 7 west half has a valley floor elevation of between 1020 and 1040 feet and elevations on either side rise to more than 1060 feet. While not deep it does provide evidence of deeper flood water erosion of the figure 4 east half prior to beheading and reversal of south-oriented flood flow by the headward erosion of the south-oriented Platte River valley (which beheaded and reversed the flood flow on the present day north-northeast oriented Candy Creek alignment).

Missouri River-Bee Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 5 illustrates the Missouri River-Bee Creek drainage divide area located south of the figure 3 map area. Faucett is the town located near the figure 5 northeast corner and is located directly south of Willow Brook seen in figure 3 and just north of where south oriented Willow Brook joins the south oriented Bee Creek segment, which is located along the figure 5 east edge. Upstream from Faucett Bee Creek flows in a north, northeast, and southeast direction before reaching south oriented Willow Brook.The south-southwest and south-southeast oriented Missouri River valley is located along the figure 5 west edge. West of the north-oriented Bee Creek headwaters are north-northwest, north, and north-northeast oriented headwaters of Contrary Creek, which flows to the figure 5 north edge (just east of center). De Kalb is the town just north of the word BLOOMINGTON and north of De Kalb are headwaters of an unnamed north-northwest oriented Missouri River tributary. Note south and southeast-oriented Bee Creek tributary headwaters located south of the north-oriented Bee Creek headwaters including southeast-oriented Bleazard Branch and south and southeast-oriented Jordan Branch. Figure 6 provides a more detailed map of the drainage divide between the north-oriented Bee Creek headwaters and the south and southeast oriented Bee Creek tributaries near the small town of Wallace. The north-oriented tributaries, including Contrary Creek, to the south-oriented Missouri River and the north-oriented Bee Creek headwaters flowing to south-oriented Bee Creek all provide evidence of massive flood flow reversals when headward erosion of deep south-oriented valleys beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes. Volumes of water involved must have been immense not only to erode the large and deep south-oriented valleys, but also to erode the deep north-oriented barbed tributary valleys. South of De Kalb is west-oriented Sugar Creek, which has northwest, west-southwest, and south-southwest oriented segments and several northwest and north-northwest oriented tributaries. Note how those north-oriented tributaries are linked by shallow through valleys with south- and west-oriented Missouri River tributaries and also further east near Mock Corner with a southeast-oriented Bee Creek tributary. Study of the figure 5 drainage divides reveals numerous shallow through valleys providing evidence that prior to headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley multiple south-oriented flood flow channels crossed the figure 5 map area on an upland (erosion and/or deposition) surface at least as high as the highest figure 5 elevations today. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley and its deep south- and west-oriented tributary valleys and deep north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys and Bee Creek headwaters valleys, which were eroded by massive flood flow reversals, created the landscape seen today, which has changed little since.

Detailed map of Bee Creek-Jordan Branch drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 6 provides a detailed topographic map of the Bee Creek-Jordan Branch drainage divide area near Wallace, Missouri, which was seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Wallace is the small town located just east of the figure 6 south center area. The southeast-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 south edge (east of Wallace) is Bleazard Branch, which flows in a southeast direction to join south oriented Bee Creek. The south-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 south center edge is Jordan Branch, which south of the figure 6 map area turns to flow in a southeast direction to join south-oriented Bee Creek. The north-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 north center edge, is Bee Creek and north of the figure 6 map area turns to flow in a northeast, southeast, and south direction (east of the figure 6 map area) and to eventually join the Missouri River south of the figure 6 map area. East-oriented streams flowing to the figure 6 east edge are Bee Creek tributaries. The northwest and north-northwest oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 northwest corner is Contrary Creek, which north and west of the figure 6 map area flows in a north direction to eventually join the south-oriented Missouri River valley. The southwest-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 southwest corner is Sugar Creek, which south and west of the figure 6 map area flows in a west direction to join the south-oriented Missouri River. Note how north of Wallace the north-oriented Bee Creek valley is linked by several well-defined north-south oriented through valleys with the south-oriented Jordan Branch valley. The deepest through valley floor elevation is between 1140 and 1150 feet (the map contour interval is 10 feet) and hills to the east rise to at least 1170 feet and at least 1190 feet to the west. Two other slightly shallower through valleys provide evidence of at least three south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Jordan Branch valley prior to reversal of flood flow on the north-oriented Bee Creek valley segment. Study of other figure 6 drainage divides reveals numerous other shallow through valleys. For example in the figure 6 southwest quadrant multiple shallow through valleys cross the Contrary Creek-Sugar Creek drainage divide and provide evidence of multiple diverging south-oriented flood flow routes from the Contrary Creek drainage basin to what was then the actively eroding west-oriented Sugar Creek valley. At that time headward erosion of the Missouri River valley had not yet beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow in the Contrary Creek drainage basin. Shallow through valleys also link Contrary Creek headwaters valleys with south and south-southeast oriented Jordan Branch tributary valleys providing evidence flood waters flowed in a south direction from the Contrary Creek drainage basin to the actively eroding Jordan Branch valley.

Sugar Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 7 illustrates the Sugar Creek-Missouri River drainage divide area located south of the figure 5 map area  and includes overlap areas with figure 5. The southeast-oriented Missouri River valley extends from the figure 7 northwest corner area to the figure 7 south center edge. Note north-oriented barbed tributaries flowing to the southeast-oriented Missouri River in the figure 7 southwest corner area. The north-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south oriented flood flow routes as the deep southeast-oriented Missouri River valley eroded headward across the region. New Market is a small town located just north of the figure 7 east center edge area. Bee Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 7 east edge (just north of New Market) to the figure 7 south edge (near the southeast corner). Note southeast-oriented Bee Creek tributaries. Bleazard Branch is the southeast-oriented tributary flowing from Wallace (near north edge) to join Bee Creek near the east edge and Jordan Branch is the south- and southeast-oriented tributary flowing from near Wallace to join Bee Creek downstream from New Market. The northwest, southwest, northwest, southwest, and south-southwest oriented Missouri River tributary near the figure 7 north edge is Sugar Creek. South Sugar Creek is the northwest-oriented Sugar Creek tributary originating just north of the word MARSHALL. Bear Creek is the south-oriented Missouri River tributary located directly south of the word MARSHALL. Study of the South Sugar Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide reveals multiple shallow through valleys linking multiple north-oriented South Sugar Creek tributary valleys with multiple south-oriented Bear Creek tributary valleys. Figure 8 below provides a detailed topographic map of the drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys. The tributary valley orientations and the shallow through valleys provide evidence of diverging and converging south-oriented flood flow channels prior to headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Sugar Creek valley, which beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding and deep south-oriented Bear Creek valley system. The diverging and converging channel pattern is typical of flood formed anastomosing channel complexes and provides further evidence supporting the flood origin interpretation. Study of other figure 7 drainage divides reveals similar patterns and provides evidence that prior to headward erosion of the present day deep valleys south-oriented flood waters flowed across the entire figure 7 map area on an erosion and/or deposition surface at least as high as the highest figure 7 elevations today.

Detailed map of South Sugar Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 8 illustrates a detailed topographic map of the South Sugar Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in the figure 7 map area above. South Sugar Creek flows in a northwest direction from the figure 8 center area to the northwest corner. Other north and northwest oriented streams flowing to the figure 8 north edge are Sugar Creek tributaries, with Sugar Creek (north of the figure 8 map area) flowing in a northwest, southwest, northwest, and southwest direction to join the southeast-oriented Missouri River. The second northwest-oriented Sugar Creek valley segment is directly downstream from where northwest-oriented South Sugar Creek joins Sugar Creek. Bear Creek is labeled and flows in a south-southwest direction in the figure 8 south center area to the figure 8 south edge and south of figure 8 flows in a south direction to join the southeast-oriented Missouri River. Other south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 8 south edge are Bear Creek tributaries. Study of the Sugar Creek-Bear Creek drainage divide reveals numerous shallow through valleys linking north-oriented Sugar Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Bear Creek tributary valleys. For example, near the figure 8 center in the section 1 west half a north-south oriented through valley links a north-oriented Sugar Creek tributary valley with the southwest-oriented Bear Creek headwaters valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley floor elevation is between 1130 and 1140 feet. Hills on either side of the through valley rise to elevations greater than 1180 feet. Further west in the section 3 southeast quadrant a shallow north-south oriented through valley links a north-oriented South Sugar Creek tributary valley with a south-oriented Bear Creek tributary valley. The section 3 through valley floor elevation is between 1070 and 1080 feet and hills to the west rise to elevations greater than 1130 feet while as already noted hills to the east rise to elevations greater than 1180 feet. Many other through valleys are present, with many being shallower than the two examples cited. The through valleys and valley orientations north and south of the through valleys describe what was at one time a large south-oriented flood formed anastomosing channel complex. The south-oriented Bear Creek valley system eroded headward from the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. Next headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Sugar Creek valley from the deep and actively eroding southeast-oriented Missouri River valley head beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow channels so as to erode the northwest-oriented South Sugar Creek valley and its north-oriented tributary valleys while at the same the Sugar Creek valley eroded further to the west to beheaded and reverse additional south-oriented flood flow channels.

Bee Creek-Platte River drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 9 illustrates the Bee Creek-Platte River drainage divide area located south and east of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. The south-southeast oriented Missouri River valley is located in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. The south-southwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 9 north center edge to enter the Missouri River valley at the town of Beverly is Bee Creek. Dearborn is the town near where Bee Creek crosses the figure 9 north edge and New Market is located a short distance downstream from Dearborn. The southeast-oriented tributary joining Bee Creek downstream from New Market is Jordan Branch. Edgerton is the town located in the figure 9 northeast corner and is located on west-oriented Grove Creek, which flows to the south-southwest oriented Platte River. The Platte River flows from the figure 9 north edge (north of Edgerton) to join the Missouri River just south of the figure 9 south center edge. Platte City is the town located next to the Platte River near the figure 9 south center edge. Note how the Platte River valley consists of a series of incised meanders and also has a number of north-oriented barbed tributaries and/or north-oriented tributaries to east and west oriented Platte River tributaries. Numerous shallow through valleys can be found in the figure 9 map area linking north-oriented valleys with south-oriented valleys providing evidence of former south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels similar to those described in previous figures. A somewhat different type of through valley can be seen just east of Camden Point, a town located slightly north and east of the figure 9 center. The Camden Point area through valley of interest links east-oriented Bell Creek with south-southwest and south-southeast oriented Alger Creek. Figure 10 below provides a detailed topographic map to better illustrate the through valley. Note on figure 9 how the Alger Creek valley is aligned with drainage routes to the north. North of south-oriented Alger Creek headwaters are headwaters of north-oriented Holland Branch which joins a south-southeast oriented stream and then turns to flow in an east direction to the south-oriented Platte River. Further alignments of valleys can be traced north of the figure 9 map to eventually reach a south-oriented Platte River valley segment. In other words the south-oriented Alger Creek valley is the south end of what was at one time a major south-oriented flood flow route parallel to the present day Platte River. This flood flow route diverged from the present day Platte River channel north of the figure 9 map area and then converged with the Platte River channel where Alger Creek joins the Platte River today. The east-oriented Bell Creek valley and Holland Branch valley segment (along with east-oriented valleys north of figure 9) provide evidence the parallel south-oriented flood flow channels were interconnected. As the deep Platte River valley eroded headward along the eastern channel (or present day Platte River route) from the actively eroding Missouri River valley headward erosion of east-oriented tributary valleys in sequence from the south to north dismembered the south-oriented flood flow channel to the west. For example Bell Creek valley headward erosion captured some of the south-oriented flood flow and somewhat later headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Holland Branch valley beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow to erode the north-oriented Holland Branch valley.

Detailed map of Bell Creek-Alger Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 10 provides a detailed topographic map of the Bell Creek-Alger Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Camden Point is the town located near the figure 10 west center edge. The south-and southeast-oriented stream located just east of Camden Point is Alger Creek and flows in a southeast direction across section 4 to the figure 10 south edge. Note south and south-southwest oriented headwaters valleys draining to Alger Creek south of the word GREEN (near north edge). The south-oriented Platte River valley meanders from the figure 10 northeast corner to the figure 10 south edge (east half) and is joined by northwest-oriented Dicks Creek just south of the figure 10 east center area. Note north-oriented Dicks Creek tributaries and north-oriented tributary valleys to the west oriented Platte River valley segment in the figure 10 northeast quadrant. Bell Creek is an east-oriented Platte River tributary located near the figure 10 north edge. Note how the northeast-oriented Bell Creek headwaters valley in the section 27 north half is linked by shallow through valleys with an unnamed southeast-oriented Platte River tributary valley and also with the south-oriented Alger Creek valley. The southeast-oriented Platte River tributary valley eroded headward into what was at one time a west and southwest-oriented flood flow channel moving flood water along the northeast-oriented Bell Creek valley segment alignment to the south-oriented Alger Creek valley. The old railroad grade best defines the route the southwest oriented flood flow channel used. Between Camden Point and the Platte River there is a maze of former through valleys suggesting flood waters flowed along multiple routes as deep valleys eroded headward into the region and captured the south-oriented flood flow. North and northwest oriented valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow. While I will not try to decipher all steps in this very complex drainage history, I will note that for a time flood waters from the south-oriented Platte River valley area (north of figure 10) were flowing in southwest direction along the present day Bell Creek drainage route to the Alger Creek valley at the same time as flood waters were flowing along the present day Platte River route. Headward erosion of the previously mentioned deep unnamed southeast-oriented Platte River tributary valley captured the southwest-oriented flood flow which was next headward erosion of the deep Platte River valley, which reversed the flood flow to erode the east-oriented Bell 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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