Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to interpret landform origins in the Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area located in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri. The Thompson River and Medicine Creek are south-oriented drainage routes, which flow from southern Iowa across Mercer and Grundy Counties, Missouri to join the southeast-oriented Grand River in Livingston County, Missouri. The Thompson River is located west of Medicine Creek and between the Thompson River and Medicine Creek are multiple south-oriented Thompson River tributaries and their tributaries including the Weldon River, Muddy Creek, Honey Creek, and No Creek. These closely spaced and converging south-oriented drainage routes suggest the valleys eroded headward from the Grand River valley along what were flood flow channels in a large south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Evidence supporting this anastomosing channel complex origin includes numerous north-oriented barbed tributaries to the primary south-oriented valleys and shallow through valleys linking heads of the north-oriented tributary valleys with heads of south-oriented valleys leading to adjacent drainage routes. Flood waters responsible for this massive anastomosing channel complex are interpreted to have been derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located north of the study region. This interpretation is based on topographic map evidence presented in this and other similar essays and may differ from interpretations based on other types of evidence.

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 Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston 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 Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area landform evidence in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston 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.

Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Thompson River-Medicine 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 provides a Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri location map. Iowa is the state occupying most of the figure 1 northern third while Missouri occupies most the southern two-thirds. The south-southwest and south-southeast oriented Mississippi River can be seen along the figure 1 east margin and forms the border with Illinois to the east. The Missouri River flows in a south-southeast direction from Council Bluffs, Iowa (in northwest corner) to Kansas City and forms the border with Nebraska in the north and Kansas in the south. At Kansas City the Missouri River turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick and then flows in a southeast and south direction to the figure south edge. South of the figure 1 map area the Missouri River turns to flow in more of an east direction and south and east of the figure 1 map area joins the south-oriented Mississippi River. The Grand River is a south, southeast, and south oriented tributary which joins the Missouri River near Brunswick. Named Grand River tributaries shown on figure 1 are south-oriented Locust Creek, Medicine Creek, and the Thompson River and its south-oriented Weldon River tributary. The Grand River and its major south-oriented tributaries originate in southern Iowa i(just west of the figure 1 north center edge area). The Thompson River begins near Greenfield, Iowa (very close to figure 1 north edge) and flows in a south-southeast direction to Davis City, Iowa near the Iowa-Missouri state line before entering Missouri and flowing near Trenton and then continuing in a south direction to join the Grand River near Utica. The south-oriented Weldon River is located east of the Thompson River and flows in a south direction from southern Iowa to join the Thompson River near Trenton, Missouri. Medicine Creek is located east of the Weldon River and flows in a south direction from near the Iowa-Missouri state line to join the Grand River south and east of Chillicothe. Locust Creek is east of Medicine Creek and is also a Grand River tributary. East of Locust Creek is the south-oriented Chariton River, which has east-oriented headwaters in southern Iowa north of the south-oriented Weldon River, flows directly to the Missouri River (the south-oriented Mussel Fork is a Chariton River tributary located between Locust Creek and the Chariton River). West of the Thompson River are several unlabeled south-oriented Grand River tributaries and the south-oriented Grand River headwaters. Further west are additional south-oriented streams and rivers which flow directly to the Missouri River upstream from Kansas City. The Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri represents all areas between the Thompson River and Medicine Creek in Missouri. The Chariton River-Grand River drainage divide area landform origins in Lucas. Decatur, and Wayne Counties, Iowa essay describes the region directly to the north. Areas west of the Thompson River in Missouri are described in the East Fork Grand River-Thompson River drainage divide area landform origins in Worth, Gentry, and Harrison Counties, Missouri essay and the Grand River-Shoal Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Daviess, Caldwell, and Livingston Counties, Missouri essay. These and essays describing other adjacent drainage divide areas can be found by selecting MO Grand River or Chariton River from the sidebar category list.
  • Topographic map evidence presented in this essay and in other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays indicates the entire figure 1 map area was deeply eroded by massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located north of the figure 1 map area. The ice sheet had been located in a deep “hole” formed by deep glacial erosion and by crustal warping caused by the ice sheet’s tremendous weight. The figure 1 map area was located on the deep “hole’s” southern rim, although today evidence of that southern rim is subtle. The southern rim was completely removed by melt water flood erosion as immense south-oriented melt water floods flowed from the ice sheet’s southern margin to the Gulf of Mexico. These huge south-oriented melt water floods were captured by headward erosion of the south-oriented Mississippi River valley and its tributary valleys. Tributary valleys eroded headward from the actively eroding Mississippi River in sequence from south to north. Of interest to this essay are tributary valleys which eroded headward on the west side of the Mississippi River valley. South of the figure 1 map area in the state of Arkansas the southeast-oriented Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward in advance of the southeast-oriented White River valley and its tributary valleys. Further north in the state of Missouri, but still south of the figure 1 map area, the Missouri River valley and its east and northeast oriented tributary Osage River valley next captured the south oriented flood flow and beheaded flood flow routes to the actively eroding White River valley and its south-oriented tributary valleys. 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 into the figure 1 map area next captured flood flow routes to the newly eroded Osage River valley and south-oriented tributary valleys began to erode headward from the newly erode Missouri River valley north wall. Grand River valley headward erosion from the newly eroded Missouri River valley next captured south-oriented flood flow routes and deep south-oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Grand River valley northeast wall. The Locust Creek, Medicine Creek, Weldon River, Thompson River, and other south-oriented Grand River tributary valleys eroded headward at this time. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Chariton River headwaters valley next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Locust Creek, Medicine Creek, and Weldon River valleys while headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Des Moines River valley (from the Mississippi River valley) next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Chariton River valley, Thompson River valley, and other western south-oriented Grand River tributary and headwaters valleys.

Detailed location map for the Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area

Figure 2: Detailed location map for the Thompson River-Medicine 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 Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties, Missouri. County boundaries and names are shown. The Iowa-Missouri state line is located near the figure 2 north edge. Mercer County is directly south of the state line, Grundy County is directly south of Mercer County, and Livingston County is south of Grundy County. The Grand River flows in a southeast direction to the Daviess County southeast corner and then across Livingston County to the Linn County southwest corner before flowing to the figure 2 south edge. The Thompson River flows in a south direction from the Harrison County northeast corner along the Harrison County-Mercer border to northwest Grundy County and then flows in a south-southeast direction across Grundy County and then in a south direction to join the southeast-oriented Grand River west of Chillicothe in Livingston County. Note south-oriented Thompson River tributaries from the east. These tributaries are almost all oriented in south directions roughly parallel to the Thompson River and many have south-oriented tributaries of their own. The south-oriented Weldon River joins the Thompson River near Trenton in Grundy County and named tributaries include south-oriented West Muddy Creek and south-oriented Little River. East of the Weldon River is south-oriented Muddy Creek, which originates just north of the figure 2 map area and which joins the Thompson River in southern Grundy County (south of Trenton). East of Muddy Creek is south-oriented Honey Creek, which originates at the confluence of south-oriented West and East Honey Creeks in northeast Grundy County and which joins the Thompson River in northern Livingston County. East of Honey Creek in eastern Grundy County is south-southwest oriented No Creek, which joins Honey Creek near the Grundy-Livingston County border. East of No Creek in the Grundy County northeast quadrant and along the Grundy-Sullivan County border is south-oriented Little Medicine Creek, which joins south-oriented Medicine Creek near Galt. Medicine Creek flows in a south direction near the Putnam and Sullivan County west boundaries and near Galt (along Grundy-Sullivan County border) turns to flow in a south-southwest direction across southeast Grundy County and then to flow in a south direction near the Livingston County east border to join the southeast-oriented Grand River. Drainage basins in Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston Counties and adjacent counties are closely spaced, narrow, elongate, roughly parallel with each other, and converge in a south direction. These characteristics suggest the drainage systems evolved as deep valleys eroded headward along south-oriented flood flow channels in what was at one time a large south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Anastomosing channel complexes are flood formed landforms composed of ever-changing diverging and converging flood flow channels. Should deep valleys erode headward along the most successful of the south-oriented flood flow channels the less successful diverging flood flow channels would be beheaded and the result would look like the drainage system in figure 2. In the case of figure 2 the deep valleys eroded headward from the deep Grand River valley, which eroded headward from the deep Missouri River valley.

South end of the Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: South end of the Thompson River-Medicine 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 Thompson River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area in Livingston County. Chillicothe is the larger town in the figure 3 south center area. Wheeling is the smaller town east of Chillicothe and near the figure 3 east edge and Utica is the smaller town southwest of Chillicothe and near the figure 3 south edge. The Grand River flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 3 west edge (south half) to the south edge. The Thompson River is the south-oriented river joining the Grand River north of Utica.  Indian Branch is the south-oriented Grand River tributary west of the Thompson River and near the figure 3 west edge. The south-oriented stream flowing from the figure 3 north edge (east half) to the south edge is Medicine Creek, which joins the Grand River just south of the figure 3 map area. Immediately east of Medicine Creek and flowing in the same valley (in the figure 3 southeast quadrant) is Muddy Creek (there will be more than one Muddy Creek in this essay). Muddy Creek flows in a south-southwest, south, and south-southeast direction from the figure 3 north edge (near northeast corner) to the south edge (near southeast corner) and joins the Grand River just south of the figure 3 map area. Between the Thompson River and Medicine Creek are several shorter south-oriented Grand River tributaries. One is unnamed and is located just west of Chillicothe, another is south-oriented Blackwell Branch, and a third is south-oriented Leeper Branch. The multiple south-oriented Grand River tributaries suggests the headward erosion of the deep east-southeast oriented Grand River valley captured multiple south-oriented flood flow channels, such as might be found in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. The deep Medicine Creek and Thompson River valleys then eroded headward along what were then two of the more successful south-oriented flood flow channels and beheaded flood flow to less successful diverging south-oriented flood flow channels. Evidence supporting this interpretation is found in the north-oriented tributary to west-oriented Crooked Creek, which joins the south-oriented Thompson River near the figure 3 north edge, and also in the north-oriented Sapp Branch headwaters, which then turn to flow in a northeast and east direction to join south-oriented Medicine Creek. In both cases flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented (barbed) tributary valleys. Further evidence supportive of this interpretation is found in the shallow through valley linking the north-oriented barbed tributary valleys with the short south-oriented Grand River tributary valleys to the south. On figure 3 the through valley is defined by a single ten-meter contour line. On a more detailed topographic map there are several through valleys with the deepest valley being where the railroad is located and being defined by two 4-meter contour lines on each side.

Thompson River-North Fork Crooked Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Thompson River-North Fork Crooked Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

  • Figure 4 uses a reduced size topographic map to illustrate the Thompson River-North Fork Crooked Creek drainage divide area located north of the figure 3 map area. Laredo is the town located in the figure 4 northeast quadrant and Chula is the town located near the figure 4 south center edge. There are multiple south-oriented drainage routes crossing the figure 4 map area and from the west to the east they are: the Thompson River (with south-oriented Muddy Creek joining it in the northwest quadrant), Honey Creek, No Creek (which flows in a south-southwest and south direction), the North Fork Crooked Creek (which flows west of Laredo), Medicine Creek (which flows in the larger valley east of Laredo), and Muddy Creek (which flows directly to the Grand River as seen in figure 3). Note how almost all tributaries to these south and south-southwest oriented drainage routes are also oriented in south directions. These multiple south and south-southwest oriented valleys are again defining the type of closely spaced and roughly parallel channels found in a large-scale south-oriented flood formed anastomosing channel complex. As seen in figures 2 and 3 the channels do converge in the south and tributary valley orientations suggest alignments of previous diverging channels. A few shallow through valleys can be seen in figure 4, although even on detailed topographic maps.  the shallow through valleys are usually defined by only one or two contour lines, which suggests when beheaded the diverging channel floors were almost as high as the present day drainage divides. In other words prior to headward erosion of the deep Grand River valley into the figure 3 map area (south of figure 4) flood waters were flowing on a surface as high as the present day drainage divides and as deep valleys eroded headward along the south-oriented channels from the newly eroded deep Grand River valley the figure 4 surface was eroded to create the landscape seen today. The south-oriented valleys eroded headward from the deep Grand River valley in sequence from east to west. Evidence of this sequence can be seen in how Medicine Creek valley headward erosion beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to what were once actively eroding southeast-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valleys and North Fork Crooked Creek valley headward erosion beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to southeast-oriented Medicine Creek tributary valleys, etc.

Weldon River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 5 uses reduced size topographic maps to illustrate the Weldon River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area located north of the figure 4 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 4. Trenton is the larger town located in the figure 5 southwest quadrant. Laredo is the smaller town straddling the figure 5 south edge. Dunlap is the small town near the figure 5 center, Galt is the small town in the east center area, and Humphreys is the small town east of Galt and near the figure 5 east edge. The south-southeast oriented Thompson River can be seen west of Trenton flowing from the figure 5 west edge (south half) to the south edge (near southwest corner). The south-oriented Weldon River flows from near the figure 5 west edge to join the Thompson River north and west of Trenton (the map shows the present channel and the old channel). Muddy Creek is the south-oriented stream flowing from the north edge to the south edge and is located on the east side of Trenton. As seen in figure 4 Muddy Creek joins the Thompson River south of the figure 5 map area. Honey Creek is the south-oriented stream located east of Muddy Creek and joins the Thompson River near the figure 3 north margin. No Creek is the south-southwest oriented stream flowing near Dunlap and joins Honey Creek and the Thompson River near the figure 3 north margin. Between No Creek and Laredo in the figure 5 south half are headwaters of south-oriented North Fork Crooked Creek. Medicine Creek is the south and south-southwest oriented stream in the large valley located in the figure 5 east half. Little Creek is the south-oriented tributary (located west of Medicine Creek) and which joins south-southwest oriented Medicine Creek near Galt. The south-oriented stream just east of Humphreys is the Muddy Creek which flows directly to the Grand River and south of Humphreys south-oriented Little Muddy Creek is located east of Muddy Creek. Again the closely spaced and roughly parallel valleys provide evidence of a what was once a large south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Note how Medicine Creek in the Humphreys area has several short northwest oriented tributaries and how those barbed tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys to south-southeast oriented Muddy Creek tributary valleys. The northwest oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south-oriented diverging flood flow channels. Similar shallow through valleys can be seen near Dunlap linking the south-oriented South Fork Crooked Creek valley with a northwest- and southwest-oriented No Creek tributary valley. Figure 6 below provides a detailed topographic map to illustrate examples of shallow through valleys eroded across the Muddy Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide area located in the figure 5 northwest quadrant.

Detailed map of Muddy Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 6 provides a detailed topographic map of the Muddy Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in the figure 5 northwest quadrant above. Muddy Creek is the south-oriented stream in the large valley in the figure 6 west half. Honey Creek flows in a south-southwest direction in the large valley in the figure 6 east half. Note how Muddy Creek has several (barbed) northwest-oriented tributaries and in particular the north-northwest oriented tributary originating in section 25 and how the north-oriented headwaters valley is linked by a shallow though valley with a south-oriented valley. The south-oriented valley continues parallel to the Muddy Creek valley across more than three sections before finally joining with the Muddy Creek valley. The shallow through valley and the north-northwest-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley to the north complete the links needed to demonstrate this channel was once a diverging and converging flood flow channel in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the deep Muddy Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel and flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-northwest oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley. Evidence for a different type of diverging flood flow channel can be seen in section 24 in the figure 6 north center area. Shallow through valleys cross the drainage divide between northwest-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valleys and southeast-oriented tributary valleys to a south and south-southeast oriented Honey Creek tributary valley. The tributary valley orientations and the shallow through valleys provide evidence of two or more diverging flood flow channels which once moved flood waters from the south-oriented Muddy Creek channel to the south-oriented Honey Creek channel. Again headward erosion of the deep Muddy Creek valley along the south-oriented and higher elevation Muddy Creek channel beheaded the higher elevation southeast-oriented diverging flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded diverging channels reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valleys.

Thompson River-Weldon River drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 7 illustrates the Thompson River-Weldon River drainage divide area located north and slightly west of the figure 5 map area and there is a gap between figure 5 and figure 7. Princeton is the larger town near the south edge in the figure 7 southeast quadrant. Cainsville is the smaller town located just west of the Harrison-Mercer County line in the figure 7 southwest quadrant. The Thompson River flows in a south direction along the figure 7 northwest quadrant west edge and then turns to flow in south-southeast direction to the figure 7 south edge (near southwest corner). Coal Creek is a south, southwest, and south oriented tributary flowing from the small town of Saline (near north edge in northwest quadrant) to join the Thompson River north of Cainsville. Note how the southwest-oriented Coal Creek segment south of Saline has short northwest-oriented tributaries. Little Creek is south and west oriented Coal Creek tributary located south of Coal Creek. Note how a southwest-oriented Little Creek headwaters valley is linked by a shallow through valley with a northwest-oriented Coal Creek tributary valley. Brushy Creek is a south and southwest oriented Thompson River tributary located south of Little Creek. Note how the south oriented Brushy Creek headwaters valley is linked by a shallow through valley with the southwest-oriented Little Creek headwaters valley. Close inspection of the figure 7 map area permits at least partial reconstructions of former flood flow channels, which once moved flood waters on a surface as high as or higher than the present day figure 7 drainage divides. The meandering south oriented valley in the figure 7 east half is the Weldon River valley. Brush Creek is a south and east-oriented Weldon River tributary originating near the figure 7 north edge (just east of Saline). Brush Creek has several north-oriented tributaries some of which are linked by shallow through valleys with south and southeast-oriented headwaters valleys of southeast-oriented Big Branch, which joins the Weldon River a short distance upstream from Princeton. Figure 8 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Brush Creek-Big Branch drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys. Also note how the east-oriented Brushy Creek valley is linked by through valleys south of Saline with the south- and southwest-oriented Coal Creek valley. The through valleys provide evidence south-oriented flood flow diverged in the Saline region with some of the flood flow moving in a southeast direction to the south-oriented Weldon River channel while other flood flow moved to the southwest to the Thompson River channel.

Detailed map of Brush Creek-Big Branch drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 8 provides a detailed topographic map of the Brush Creek-Big Branch drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 7 above. The Weldon River flows in a south direction from the figure 8 north edge (it is the south-oriented river north of section 27 near the figure 8 northeast corner) and quickly turns to flow for a short distance in a southeast direction when joined by southeast-oriented Little River before flowing in a south-southwest direction to the figure 8 south edge (east half). The Little River flows in a south direction from the figure 8 north edge and then flows in southeast direction to join the Weldon River in the section 27 northwest quadrant. Brush Creek flows in a southeast direction in section 26 near the figure 8 northwest corner and then turns to flow in an east-northeast direction across sections 25 and 30 to join the Little River near the figure 8 north edge. The southeast-oriented stream originating in section 35 (near the figure 8 west edge) and flowing to the figure 8 south center edge is Big Branch, which south of the figure 8 map area joins the south-oriented Weldon River. The south-oriented stream flowing through sections 5 and 8 is an independent Weldon River tributary. Note how in section 35 a northeast-oriented Brush Creek tributary valley is linked by shallow through valleys with southeast-oriented Big Branch headwaters valleys. The map contour interval is 4 meters and the deeper through valleys are defined by two contour lines on each side. Additional shallow through valleys can be found in the section 36 southeast quadrant and the south half of section 31 which link south-oriented Big Branch tributary valleys with north-oriented Brush Creek tributary valleys. The deepest through valley in section 31 is defined by three contour lines on each side. Study of the figure 8 drainage divides reveals many additional shallow through valleys, many of which are defined by a single contour line on each side. Orientations of valleys, including valleys of minor tributaries, and the shallow through valleys permit at least partial reconstructions of what were once south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels eroded into a surface at least as high as the present day figure 8 drainage divides. Headward erosion of the Weldon River valley and its tributary Big Branch valley and their south-oriented tributary valleys first captured the south-oriented flood flow. Next headward erosion of the deep Brush Creek valley across the south-oriented flood flow channels captured the flood flow and beheaded flood flow routes to the actively eroding south-oriented Weldon River and Big Branch tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Brush Creek tributary valleys. Remember headward erosion of the deep Brush Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels one at a time from the east to the west, and reversed flood flow in a newly beheaded channel could capture flood waters from yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels west of the actively eroding Brush Creek valley head.

Weldon River-Medicine Creek drainage divide area

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

 

  • Figure 9 uses a reduced size topographic map to illustrate the Weldon River-Medicine Creek drainage divide east of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Princeton is the town located near the figure 9 southwest corner. Powersville is located near the northeast corner. Ravanna is the town south and west of the figure 9 center and Lucerne is the town slightly south of center near the figure 9 east edge. Mercer is the town near the highway in the figure 9 northwest quadrant. The Weldon River flows in a south direction near the figure 9 west edge. The south oriented stream east of Mercer and west of Ravanna is Muddy Creek and the south oriented stream east of Ravanna and flowing from the figure 9 north center edge to the south center edge is Little Medicine Creek. The south-oriented stream near the figure 9 east edge is Medicine Creek. Note how each of these south-oriented streams has at least some short northwest oriented (barbed) tributaries entering from the east. At the same time most tributaries entering from the west are oriented in south and southeast directions. For example, just west of Ravanna is a northwest and southwest-oriented Muddy Creek tributary and continuing north along Muddy Creek there are additional northwest-oriented tributaries. The northwest-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on the north ends of beheaded diverging flood flow channels. Shallow through valleys can also be found linking the northwest-oriented tributary valleys with south- and southeast-oriented valleys further to the east. South of Ravanna for example are headwaters of south-oriented West Honey Creek and the highway between Princeton and Ravanna, just east of Muddy Creek, crosses a north-south oriented through valley linking a northwest-oriented (barbed) Muddy Creek tributary valley with a south-oriented West Honey Creek tributary valley. Figure 10 below provides a detailed topographic map of the Muddy Creek-West Honey Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate landform features in that area. Northwest-oriented (barbed) tributaries can be seen along the east wall of the Weldon River valley north of Princeton. Another well-defined north-south oriented through valley can be seen along Medicine Creek valley east wall just south of Lucerne where a northwest-oriented (barbed) Medicine Creek tributary valley is linked by a through valley with a south-oriented tributary to Little West Locust Creek, which is in the Locust Creek drainage basin and not in the Medicine Creek drainage basin. On a more detailed topographic map (not shown) the through valley floor elevation is between 980 and 990 feet and elevations rise to more than 1030 feet on either side. The through valley provides evidence of what was once a diverging flood flow channel to what was developing as the adjacent south-oriented Locust Creek valley system. Headward erosion of the deep Medicine Creek valley beheaded the diverging flood flow channel and flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Medicine Creek tributary valley.

Detailed map of Muddy Creek-West Honey Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Muddy Creek-West Honey 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 Muddy Creek-West Honey Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail near the figure 9 south edge. The highway which extends from the figure 10 southwest quadrant to the figure 10 northeast quadrant is the highway between Princeton and Ravanna seen in figure 9. South-oriented Muddy Creek is located in the large valley extending from the figure 10 north edge to the south edge in the figure west half. The south-oriented stream in sections 15, 22, and 27 is the headwaters of West Honey Creek and turns to flow in a southwest direction near the figure 10 south edge. South of figure 10 West Honey Creek is joined by the south-oriented stream in section 29 and then flows in a south direction to join East Honey Creek and form south-oriented Honey Creek. Note how in section 20 the south-oriented West Honey Creek tributary valley is linked by shallow through valleys with a north-northwest oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley and also with a west-oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley. The north-south oriented through valley floor elevation is between 1030 and 1040 feet (the map contour interval is ten feet). Elevations west of the through valley rise to more than 1060 feet while east of the through valley elevations rise to more than 1070 feet. The north-northwest oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley orientation, the shallow through valley, and south-oriented West Honey Creek tributary valley alignment and orientation provide evidence of what was once a diverging south-oriented flood flow channel from the south-oriented Muddy Creek flood flow channel. Headward erosion of the deep Muddy Creek valley along the higher elevation south-oriented Muddy Creek flood flow channel beheaded the diverging flood flow channel to what was then the actively eroding West Honey Creek valley. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-northwest oriented Muddy Creek tributary valley. Diverging and converging flood flow channels as seen in this essay are evidence of an immense south-oriented floods which once moved across the entire Mercer, Grundy, and Livingston County region. Erosion of deep north-oriented tributary valleys, such the north-northwest oriented tributary valley seen in figure 10, require large volumes of reversed flood flow, which is only possible where there are much larger volumes of non reversed flood flow. In other words, evidence seen in this essay documents gigantic south-oriented melt water floods across the entire region.

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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