Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area landform origins in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright Counties, Missouri was eroded by immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across the entire state of Missouri and adjacent states. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and were captured in sequence from south to north by headward erosion of deep east and southeast oriented valleys from the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Gasconade River valley flood waters flowing across Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright County area were flowing to what was then the newly eroded southeast oriented White River valley. Headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River valley at the north end of the Osage Fork-Gasconade River drainage divide area beheaded a major south-oriented flood flow route on the present day north-oriented Gasconade River alignment. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction and eroded the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley segment. The actively eroding deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley captured flood flow still moving south on flood flow routes west of the north-oriented Gasconade River valley. The captured flood flow moved in southeast, east, and northeast directions to reach the actively eroding Gasconade River valley. The deep Osage Fork valley then eroded headward across these southeast, east, and northeast oriented flood flow routes, beheading the flood flow to the newly eroded Gasconade River valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of present day valleys, incised meanders aligned with former southeast, east, and northeast oriented flood flow routes, and through valleys eroded across the present day drainage divide.

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 Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area landform origins in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright 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 on 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 the 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 topographic map evidence in the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright 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.

Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade 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 location map for the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright Counties, Missouri and illustrates most of southern Missouri. The Mississippi River flows in a south direction from the figure 1 north edge to St. Louis and then in a south and southeast direction to the figure 1 east center edge. East of the Mississippi River is a region in western Illinois. A thin strip of northern Arkansas is located near the figure 1 south edge. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north center edge to Jefferson City and then in an east direction to join the Mississippi River near the figure 1 north edge. The Gasconade River is a northeast, north, and north-northeast oriented tributary originating near Seymour (east and south of Springfield) and joining the Missouri River near Gasconade (midway between Jefferson City and Washington). The Osage Fork (Gasconade River) originates north of Seymour and flows in a north, northeast, north, and northeast direction to join the Gasconade River north and east of Lebanon. South-oriented streams located south of the Gasconade River headwaters are tributaries to the southeast-oriented White River which flows from Table Rock Lake (Reservoir) to Bull Shoals Lake (Reservoir) before flowing south of the figure 1 map area. The east and northeast oriented Missouri River tributary flowing from Harry S. Truman Reservoir to Lake of the Ozarks and then to join the Missouri River near Jefferson City is the Osage River. West of the Osage Fork are northwest and north oriented Osage River tributaries including (from east to west) the Ninangua River, Pomme de Terre River, and Sac River. This essay is one of several hundred similar essays describing similar Missouri River drainage divide areas. Essays for other drainage divide areas are listed under appropriate Missouri River segments or tributaries and states in which they are located. Collectively these essays describe immense south-oriented floods which flowed across the entire state of Missouri and adjacent states. Floods were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flood waters were captured in sequence from south to north by headward erosion of deep east and southeast oriented valleys from the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. In the figure 1 map area flood waters originally flowed across the entire figure 1 map area to what was then the newly eroded southeast-oriented White River valley. Headward erosion of the deep east oriented Missouri River valley then began to capture the south-oriented flood flow and divert flood waters east to the Mississippi River. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented valleys. Because headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley beheaded flood flow routes in sequence from east to west, reversed flood flow eroding deep north-oriented valleys was able to capture flood flow still moving south on routes west of the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. This captured flood flow moved in southeast, east, and northeast directions which are today reflected in orientations of north-oriented valleys and their tributary valleys. Once the deep Missouri River valley eroded further west it (or its east and northeast-oriented Osage River tributary valley) beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes further west, causing additional flood flow reversals, which eroded additional deep north-oriented valleys, and which captured flood flow from flood flow routes further to the west.

Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area detailed location map. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 2 provides a more detailed location map for the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area in Laclede, Pulaski, Webster, and Wright Counties, Missouri. County boundaries are shown and county names are given. The Gasconade River is formed by the junction of the Woods Fork and the Lick Fork near Hartville in Wright County and then flows in a northeast direction to near Rayborn where it turns to flow in a north and north-northeast direction to join the Osage Fork (Gasconade River) in western Pulaski County. After joining the Osage Fork the Gasconade River flows in a northeast and north direction to the figure 2 north edge and joins the Missouri River north of the figure 2 map area. Woods Fork and Lick Fork originate in southeast Webster County and immediately to the west are west oriented headwaters of the west, northwest, southwest, and south oriented James River, which flows to the southeast-oriented White River. North of the Woods Fork headwaters are headwaters of north-oriented Cantrell Creek, which flows to northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River). The Osage Fork (Gasconade River) originates just west of the Cantrell Creek headwaters and flows in a northwest direction toward Marshfield in Webster County before turning to flow in a northeast direction to the Webster County northeast corner and then in a north-northeast direction across eastern Laclede County and to Pulaski County border area, where it joins the Gasconade River. Osage Fork (Gasconade River) tributaries in the Osage Fork-Gasconade River drainage divide area are north-oriented with some being north-northeast oriented and others north-northwest oriented. Gasconade River tributaries in the drainage divide area are also north-oriented with northeast-oriented valley segments. All north, north-northeast, and north-northwest valleys in the figure 2 map area were eroded during an immense south-oriented flood, which was reversed by headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley (north of the figure 2 map area) and its deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River tributary valley segment. North, north-northwest and north-northeast valleys and valley segments were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes. Flood flow routes were beheaded in sequence from east to west and flood waters continued to move south at locations west of newly beheaded and reversed flood flow routes. The newly beheaded and reversed flood flow routes eroded deep north-oriented valleys which captured south-oriented flood waters from yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes in the west. Captured flood waters moved in southeast, east, and northeast directions to the actively eroding north-oriented valleys. Note in Webster County northwest-oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River), East Fork Niangua River, Pomme de Terre River, and James River valley segments. Those valley segments were originated by captured flood water moving in a southeast direction to what was then the actively eroding and deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley. Subsequently headward erosion of deep east-oriented valleys north and south of the figure 2 map beheaded and reversed those southeast-oriented flood flow channels to erode the northwest-oriented valley segments.

North end of Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area

Figure 3: North end of Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 3 illustrates the north end of the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area in Laclede and Pulaski Counties where the Osage Fork joins the Gasconade River. The north-south oriented Laclede County-Pulaski County boundary divides the figure 3 map area. Hazelgreen is the small town located near the figure 3 north center edge. The Osage Fork (Gasconade River is located in Laclede County (figure 3 west half) and meanders in a north and northeast direction to join the Gasconade River near the figure 3 north center edge. The Gasconade River meanders in a north and northwest direction in Pulaski County (figure 3 east half) to the near Hazelgreen and then meanders in a southwest direction to join the Osage Fork before meandering in a north direction to the figure 3 north edge. Both the Osage Fork and the Gasconade River display rather well-developed incised meanders which form one of the more interesting figure 3 landscape features. The incised meanders may be related to flood flow channels that existed as the deep Gasconade River and Osage Fork valleys eroded headward or south. To understand what flood flow channels existed at that time it is important to know the Gasconade River north of the figure 3 map turns to meander in a northeast direction. Headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River valley north of the figure 3 map area beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes across the figure 3 map area. Before beheading and reversing south-oriented flood flow routes across the figure 3 map area headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River valley had beheaded and reversed flood flow routes east of the figure 3 map area and deep north-oriented valleys were actively being eroded there. The deep north-oriented valleys east of the figure 3 map area captured flood flow from west of the figure 3 map area where south-oriented flood flow routes had not been beheaded. The captured flood water moved in an east (including southeast and northeast) direction to reach the actively eroding north-oriented valleys. When south-oriented flood flow on the present day north-oriented Gasconade River alignment was beheaded flood waters on the north end of that beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction and began to erode another deep north-oriented valley headward across the east oriented flood flow channels to the previously eroded deep north-oriented east of the figure 3 map area. As the deep Gasconade River valley eroded headward or south, for short distances it made use of the east, northeast, and southeast oriented flood flow channels it crossed, first eroding headward in one direction and then eroding headward across a divide to an adjacent channel and then eroding headward in an opposite direction. The deep Osage Fork valley then eroded headward across these same east, northeast, and southeast oriented flood flow channels. Osage Fork tributaries from the west are east oriented, with some flowing in an east-northeast direction while others are flowing in an east-southeast direction which probably reflect orientations of earlier east oriented flood flow channels. West of the Osage Fork are some short northwest, west, and even southwest-oriented tributaries, which may also be related to those earlier flood flow channels. The longest tributary in the Osage Fork-Gasconade River drainage divide is relatively straight north-northwest oriented Prairie Creek, which joins the Osage Fork and Gasconade River at their confluence point. West of Prairie Creek is parallel Murrell Hollow and east of Prairie Creek is parallel Cole Creek. Figure 4 below provides a detailed map of the Murrell Hollow-Prairie Creek-Cole Creek drainage divide area.

Murrell Hollow-Prairie Creek-Cole Creek drainage divide areas

Figure 4: Murrell Hollow-Prairie Creek-Cole Creek drainage divide areas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Murrell Hollow-Prairie Creek drainage divide and the Prairie Creek-Cole Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above. A Gasconade River meander is located in the figure 4 northeast quadrant and the Gasconade River flows in a south-southwest, west, and north direction. Cole Creek is the north and north-northwest oriented stream near the figure 4 east edge flowing to the south-southwest oriented Gasconade River meander segment as a barbed tributary. Prairie Creek is the north-northwest oriented stream flowing from the figure 4 south edge (east half) to the figure 4 north center edge. Note the major north-northeast and north oriented Prairie Creek tributary. Murrell Hollow is the north-northwest oriented valley near the figure 4 west edge. Note how the north-south oriented Murrell Hollow-north-oriented Prairie Creek tributary drainage divide, the north-oriented Prairie Creek tributary-Prairie Creek drainage divide, and the Prairie Creek-Cole Creek drainage divide are all crossed by numerous shallow west to east oriented through valleys. For example, south of the “6” in section 6 is a west to east oriented through valley across the north-oriented Prairie Creek tributary-Prairie Creek drainage divide. The through valley floor elevation at the drainage divide is between 1090 and 1100 feet (the map contour interval is 10 feet). The hill immediately to the north rises to more than 1140 feet. Elevations to south along the figure 4 south edge rise to more than 1200 feet and a short distance south of the figure 4 map area to 1236 feet. The through valley is a water eroded feature and was eroded by east-oriented flood water moving to what at one time was the actively eroding north-oriented Prairie Creek valley. At that time the deep north-oriented Prairie Creek tributary valley did not exist, nor did the deep north-oriented Murrell Hollow of the deep north-oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River) west of the figure 4 map area exist. Captured south-oriented flood waters from flood flow routes west of the figure 4 map area was moving in an east direction to the actively eroding deep north-oriented Prairie Creek valley. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Prairie Creek valley the east-oriented flood flow had been moving to what was then the newly eroded north-oriented Cole Creek valley. And prior to headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Cole Creek valley the east-oriented flood waters had been moving to what was then the newly eroded north-oriented Gasconade River valley segment east of the figure 4 map area. Note how the south-southwest oriented Gasconade River meander segment is on approximately the same alignment as the north-oriented Cole Creek valley. Apparently headward erosion of the deep Gasconade River valley made use of a short segment an earlier eroded north-south oriented flood flow channel on the Cole Creek alignment as it eroded headward in what was overall a south direction.

Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area near Walker Hollow

Figure 5: Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area near Walker Hollow. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 illustrates the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide area near Walker Hollow. The Gasconade River flows in a north-northeast direction in the figure 5 east half from the figure 5 south edge to the north edge. Note northwest-oriented tributaries from the west. The northwest-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on southeast-oriented flood flow routes to actively eroding north-oriented valleys east of the figure 5 map area. The reversals of flood flow were triggered by headward erosion of the deep north-northeast oriented Gasconade River valley, which beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow routes in sequence from north to south. Note how many of the Gasconade River incised meanders have a northwest and southeast orientation suggesting headward erosion of the deep Gasconade River valley followed short segments of previously eroded southeast-oriented flood flow channels as it eroded headward in an overall south-southwest direction. The Osage Fork (Gasconade River) is located in the figure 5 west half and meanders from the figure 5 west edge (south of center) in an east, north, east-southeast, and then north direction to figure 5 north edge. Walker Hollow is a northwest-oriented valley joining the Osage Fork near the figure 5 north edge. Cobb Creek is the northeast-oriented stream in the figure 5 northwest quadrant and obtains most of its flow from southeast-oriented tributaries some of which can be seen. The Niangua River-Osage Fork (Gasconade River drainage divide in Dallas, Laclede, and Webster Counties essay (listed under Osage River and Gasconade River on sidebar category list) illustrates through valleys linking the southeast-oriented Cobb Creek tributaries with northwest-oriented Niangua River tributaries, providing evidence the actively eroding north-oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley captured flood flow still moving south in the yet to be beheaded and reversed Niangua River drainage basin. A close look at the figure 5 map reveals a shallow, but broad northwest-southeast oriented through valley eroded across the Cobb Creek-Osage Fork drainage divide providing evidence the captured southeast-oriented flood flow once moved to the deep Osage Fork valley prior to headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Cobb Creek valley. Little Cobb Creek is the north-northwest oriented stream flowing to the Osage Fork at the elbow of capture (where it turns from flowing in a southeast direction to flowing in a north direction). The elbow of capture was created when headward erosion of the deep Osage Fork valley which proceeded headward along one of the southeast-oriented flood flow channels before continuing to erode headward in a south direction. Figure 6 provides a detailed map of the Little Cobb Creek-Gasconade River drainage divide area in the figure 5 south center area.

Detailed map of Little Cobb Creek-Gasconade River drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 provides a detailed map of the Little Cobb Creek-Gasconade River drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 5 above. The Gasconade River meanders in a north-northeast direction along and across the figure 6 east edge. Little Cobb Creek originates in section 2 and flows in a north-northwest direction across section 35 to the figure 6 north edge (west half). North and west of the figure 6 map area Little Cobb Creek flows to the north-northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River). Note how the north-northwest oriented Little Cobb Creek valley is linked by a northwest-southeast oriented through valley with an east-southeast oriented Gasconade River tributary valley and how the Gasconade River downstream from that tributary flows for a short distance in an east direction before turning to flow north again. The through valley actually consists of multiple channels eroded into the floor of what is a much broader and deeper through valley. The deepest channel is located near Moot’s Store in the section 1 northwest corner. The drainage divide elevation in that deepest channel is between 1160 and 1170 feet. The hill in section 36 immediately to the north rises to elevation of 1285 feet. A hill in the section 11 northwest corner to the south rises to an elevation of 1283 feet. The through valley has been eroded between those two hills, which are erosional remnants providing evidence of a higher level topographic surface that once existed in the figure 6 map area. The southeast-oriented through valley was eroded by southeast-oriented flood flow moving initially to north-oriented valleys east of the figure 6 map area, but subsequently was captured by headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley. The east-oriented Gasconade River jog in sections 5 and 6 is probably related to the deep Gasconade River valley eroding west on an east-oriented flood flow channel eroded by the east-oriented flood flow route. The east-southeast oriented Gasconade River tributary valley in sections 1 and 6 was eroded by southeast-oriented flood flow moving into the newly eroded and deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley. Headward erosion of the deep north-northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley north and west of the figure 6 map area beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow route. Flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow reversed flow direction to erode the north-northwest oriented Little Cobb Creek valley. North-northeast oriented Little Cobb Creek tributary valleys provide evidence of routes used by flood waters flowing from south of the figure 6 map area to reach the actively eroding Little Cobb Creek valley.

Steins Creek-Elk Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Steins Creek-Elk Creek drainage divide area located south of the figure 5 map area (there is a gap between figure 5 and figure 7). Bowman Creek is a southeast-oriented tributary to the Woods Fork Gasconade River which flows in a northeast and southeast direction along the south edge in the figure 7 southwest corner area. South of the figure 7 map area Woods Fork joins the northeast oriented Gasconade River (Lick Fork on figure 2) and the Gasconade River then flows in a northeast direction across the figure 7 southeast corner area to join north-oriented Whetstone Creek and then to meander in a north direction along the figure 7 east edge. West of the figure 7 map area the Gasconade River (or Lick Fork) originates as a southeast-oriented stream near the Bowman Creek headwaters and flows in a southeast direction before turning to flow in a northeast direction into the figure 7 south center edge area. Note southeast-oriented tributaries to the northeast oriented Gasconade River in the figure 7 southeast quadrant. The southeast-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by southeast-oriented flood flow captured by headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River valley. Grovespring is a small town located near the figure 7 northwest corner. The north-oriented stream west of Grovespring is Parks Creek and the north-oriented stream east of Grovespring is Steins Creek. Both Parks Creek and Steins Creek flow to the northeast-oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River) located north of the figure 7 map area. Dublin is a small town located in the figure 7 north center area. The north-oriented stream west of Dublin is Scotts Branch and the north-oriented stream east of Dublin is Elk Creek. North of figure 7 Scotts Branch joins Elk Creek and Elk Creek then flows in a northeast direction to join the north-oriented Gasconade River. The Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide is located between the north-oriented Steins Creek valley and the north-oriented Elk Creek (and Scotts Branch) valley. Note how Scotts Branch and Elk Creek have northeast- and east-oriented tributaries and how Steins Creek has west and northwest oriented tributaries. The tributary orientations provide evidence reversed flood flow eroding the north-oriented Elk Creek and Scotts Branch valleys headward from the newly eroded and deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley captured yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow moving on what is now the north-oriented Steins Creek alignment. At that time the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley north of the figure 7 map area did not exist and flood waters were flowing south across figure 7 to the actively eroding Gasconade River valley and its tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Steins Creek-Elk Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 provides a detailed map of the Steins Creek-Elk Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 7 above (the figure 8 map area is located slightly north of Boyer). Steins Creek flows in a north direction along the figure 8 west edge. Note north-northwest, northwest, and west oriented Steins Creek tributaries. North of the figure 8 map area Steins Creek flows to the north-northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River). Elk Creek originates in section 2 and flows in a southeast direction to the section 2 southeast corner and then in an east direction along the section 1 south edge before turning to flow in a northeast and north-northeast direction in sections 6 and 31 to the figure 8 east edge. Note east-southeast and southeast oriented Elk Creek tributaries. East and north of the figure 8 map area Elk Creek flows in a north-northeast, north, and northeast direction to join the north-oriented Gasconade River. The Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide separates the north-oriented Steins Creek and Elk Creek drainage basins and extends in a north-south direction across the figure 8 center. The drainage divide elevation decreases in a northward direction, but note how shallow through valleys have been eroded across the drainage divide. Perhaps the easiest through valley to see is located in section 35 and links the valley of a north-northwest oriented Steins Creek tributary with the valley of an east-southeast oriented Elk Creek tributary. The through valley provides evidence of a flood flow route used by flood water moving south on what is today the north-oriented Steins Creek alignment, south-southeast on what is today the north-northwest oriented Steins Creek tributary alignment, east-southeast on what was then the actively eroding Elk Creek tributary valley alignment, and finally north-northeast in what was then the newly eroded Elk Creek valley, to what was then the newly eroded north-oriented Gasconade River valley. At that time headward erosion of the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley north of the figure 8 map area had not beheaded and reversed flood flow on the Steins Creek alignment. Probably at about the same time as the section 35 through valley was being eroded headward the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley was actively eroding headward north of the figure 8 map area. The section 35 through valley is one of numerous such through valleys linking the Steins Creek and Elk Creek valleys. Because the deep north-oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River) and the Gasconade River valleys eroded headward in a south direction the south-, southeast, east, northeast, and north oriented flood flow movements eroded the landscape more in the north than in the south, which accounts for the northward decrease in elevation along the Steins Creek-Elk Creek drainage divide seen in figures 7 and 8.

Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Woods Fork (Gasconade River) drainage divide area

Figure 9: Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Woods Fork (Gasconade River) drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 9 illustrates the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Woods Fork Gasconade River drainage divide area located west of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Niangua is the town located in the figure 9 northwest corner. Grovespring is the small town located near the figure 9 northeast corner. Odin is the small town located near the figure 9 southeast corner and High Prairie is the small town located in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. Duncan is the small town located midway between High Prairie and Odin on the highway. The Osage Fork (Gasconade River) originates south of High Prairie and flows in a northwest direction from High Prairie to the figure 9 west center edge area and then turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 9 north edge (west half). Cantrell Creek originates in the figure 9 south center edge area near Duncan and flows in a north, north-northwest, and north direction to the figure 9 north edge and joins the Osage Fork north of the figure 9 map area. Hyde Creek is the northwest and north-northwest oriented stream directly east of Cantrell Creek and joins Cantrell Creek just north of the figure 9 map area. Parks Creek is the north-oriented stream west of Grovespring and Steins Creek is the north-oriented stream flowing to the figure 9 northeast corner. Parks Creek and Steins Creek both flow in north directions to join the northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River). Woods Fork Gasconade River flows in a northeast and southeast direction to the figure 9 southeast corner and is joined by southeast oriented Bowman Creek and south-southeast and south-southwest oriented Little Creek. South and east of the figure 9 map area Woods Fork joins the northeast and north-oriented Gasconade River. The figure 9 map area is interesting because it shows how headward erosion of the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley beheaded and reversed multiple southeast oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding southeast-oriented Gasconade River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley occurred when headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River beheaded south-oriented flood flow on the north-oriented Gasconade River valley alignment. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction and began to erode the deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley headward. The deep north-oriented Gasconade River valley then captured flood water still moving south on flood flow routes further to the west. The captured flood water moved in south, southeast, and northeast directions to the actively eroding north-oriented Gasconade River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley then captured the south-, southeast-, and east-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Gasconade River valley and its actively eroding tributary valleys. Flood waters on north and northwest ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode northwest, north-northwest, and north oriented tributary and headwaters valleys and to create the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide.

Cantrell Creek-Bowman Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Cantrell Creek-Bowman Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 10 provides a detailed map of the Cantrell Creek-Bowman Creek drainage divide area near Duncan which was seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Cantrell Creek flows in a north-northeast and north direction from the figure 10 west edge (south half) to the figure 10 north edge (west half). North of the figure 10 map area Cantrell Creek turns to flow in a north-northwest and north direction to join the northeast oriented Osage Fork (Gasconade River). Bowman Creek flows in a southeast direction in section 25 to the figure 10 east center edge. East of the figure 10 map area Bowman Creek joins the southeast-oriented Woods Fork Gasconade River which flows to the northeast and north oriented Gasconade River. Southeast-oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 south edge and southeast corner are tributaries to the northeast and southeast-oriented Woods Fork Gasconade River located south and east of the figure 10 map area. Note the west to east oriented through valley linking a west oriented Cantrell Creek tributary valley with an east oriented Bowman Creek tributary valley in sections 27 and 26. The through valley floor elevation at the drainage divide is between 1460 and 1480 feet (the map contour interval is 20 feet). The hill to the north along the figure 10 north edge rises to an elevation of at least 1560 feet and the hill to the south rises to at least 1540 feet. Other somewhat shallower west to east and northwest to southeast oriented through valleys are also present. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple east and southeast-oriented flood flow channels eroded by flood waters which had been flowing south on the Cantrell Creek alignment and which had been captured by headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Gasconade River valley (south and east of the figure 10 map area). The captured flood flow moved in an east and southeast direction across the figure 10 map area and was eroding the deep Woods Fork Gasconade River-Bowman Creek valley headward into the figure 10 map area. Headward erosion of the deep Osage Fork (Gasconade River) valley north of the figure 10 map area next beheaded the south-oriented flood flow route on the Cantrell Creek alignment. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction and began to erode the deep north-oriented Cantrell Creek valley and its west and northwest-oriented tributary valleys and to create the Osage Fork (Gasconade River)-Gasconade River drainage divide (the Cantrell Creek-Bowman Creek drainage divide in figure 10).

Additional information and sources of maps

This essay has only provided a sample of the drainage divide evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” geomorphology paradigm. Many additional examples could be provided, especially by using more detailed topographic maps. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of supporting data. Maps used in this study were created by the United States Geological Survey and can be purchased in hard copy from the United States Geological Survey or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories located in major research libraries and elsewhere throughout the United States and in other countries. Illustrations used in this essay were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital data. National Geographic Society digital maps can be purchased from the National Geographic Society or from dealers offering National Geographic Society digital maps.

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