Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area landform origins in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas is the divide between the Missouri River drainage basin to the north and the Arkansas River drainage basin to the south and was eroded by immense south-oriented floods. Floods were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flowed into and across Kansas, where systematic headward erosion of deep valleys from the Mississippi River valley and their tributary valleys captured the flood flow and diverted flood waters east to the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. Headward erosion of the Arkansas River-Neosho River valley and tributary valleys captured the Bourbon and Crawford County area south-oriented flood flow first. Next headward erosion of the east-oriented Marmaton River valley from what were then newly eroded Osage River and Missouri River valleys beheaded flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Neosho River tributary valleys. Finally headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River valley from the newly eroded Osage River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded Marmaton River valley. Evidence supporting this flood erosion interpretation includes positions and orientations of major valleys and their tributary valleys and north-south oriented through valleys of various sizes which have been eroded across the present day west to east oriented drainage divides.

Preface

The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is provided as evidence in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project, which is compiling similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with and within certain adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored geomorphology paradigm, which is briefly described in the introduction below. Project essays are listed on the sidebar category list under their appropriate Missouri River tributary drainage basin, Missouri River segment drainage basin (by state), or states in which the Missouri River drainage basin is located.

Introduction:

  • The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area landform origins in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas, 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 Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays 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 Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Little Osage River-Neosho 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 Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas and illustrates the southwest corner of Missouri, the Kansas southeast corner, and the Oklahoma northeast corner. Springfield is a large city located in southwest Missouri, Chanute is a city located in southeast Kansas, and Miami is a city located in northeast Oklahoma. The Neosho River flows in a south-southeast direction from Burlington in the figure 1 northwest corner area to Chanute and Oswego, Kansas before crossing into Oklahoma and flowing to Miami and the figure 1 south edge. South of figure 1 the Neosho River flows in a south-southwest direction to eventually join the southeast-oriented Arkansas River, which flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River (located east of the figure 1 map area). The Little Osage River is shown, but not labeled in figure 1 and is the east oriented stream flowing through Fulton, Kansas and then crossing the Kansas-Missouri state line (just south of the figure 1 north edge). The east and northeast oriented Marmaton River is located south of the Little Osage River and joins the Little Osage River and the southeast-oriented Marais des Cygnes River near Schell City, Missouri to form the east and northeast oriented Osage River. North and east of the figure 1 map area the Osage River joins the east-oriented Missouri River, which flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River. The Bourbon and Crawford County area is located south of the Little Osage River and extends south to the Pittsburg, Kansas area. The Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area actually consists of two major west-east oriented drainage divides. The northern drainage divide is between the Little Osage River and the Marmaton River and is between two east-oriented Osage River tributaries. The second drainage divide is between the east oriented Marmaton River and several south-oriented Neosho River tributaries and is in reality the drainage divide between the Missouri River drainage basin to the north and the Arkansas River drainage basin to the south. Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays as a group present evidence for massive south-oriented floods from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. Flood waters flowed south into and across Kansas and were captured in sequence by deep valleys, which eroded headward from the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. Headward erosion of the Arkansas River-Neosho River valley and tributary valleys captured the flood flow first (in the figure 1 map area) and diverted flood waters to the Mississippi River valley. Headward erosion of the Marmaton River valley from what were then newly eroded Missouri River and Osage River valleys beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Neosho River tributary valleys in the Bourbon and Crawford County area and diverted flood water east to the newly eroded Osage and Missouri River valleys. Soon thereafter Little Osage River valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Marmaton River valley.

Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Little Osage River-Neosho 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 Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area in Bourbon and Crawford Counties, Kansas. Allen, Bourbon, Neosho, Crawford, Labette, and Cherokee are Kansas County names and county boundaries are shown. Vernon, Cedar, Barton, Dade, Jasper, and Lawrence are Missouri county names. The Neosho River flows in a south-southeast direction through Chanute in Neosho County and then to the Neosho County southeast corner before turning to flow south along the Labette County eastern edge. Major south-oriented Neosho River tributaries in Bourbon and Crawford Counties from west to east are Walnut Creek, Lightning Creek, and Cow Creek. Walnut Creek joins the Neosho River in Neosho County. Lightning Creek joins the Neosho River is east central Labette County. Cow Creek joins south-oriented Spring River in Cherokee County and the Spring River joins the Neosho River south of the figure 2 map area. The Marmaton River originates in eastern Allen County and flows in an east direction across central Bourbon County into Vernon County where it turns to flow in a northeast direction to join the Little Osage River in the Vernon County northeast corner. Major north-oriented Marmaton River tributaries in Bourbon and Crawford Counties from west to east include northeast-oriented Paint Creek, northeast-oriented Pawnee Creek, and northeast-oriented West Fork Dry Wood Creek (which flows to north-oriented Dry Wood Creek in Vernon County with Dry Wood Creek joining the Marmaton River in west-central Vernon County). The major southeast-oriented Marmaton River tributary in Bourbon County is Mill Creek. The Little Osage River is formed at the junction of the northeast-oriented South Fork and southeast-oriented North Fork in the Bourbon County northwest corner and once formed the Little Osage River flows in an east direction across northern Bourbon County and northern Vernon County to join the Marmaton River in northeast Vernon County. The figure 2 map area does include any named north oriented Little Osage River tributaries in Bourbon County. West to east oriented drainage divides illustrated in this essay from north to south are the Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide, the Little Osage River-Maramaton River drainage divide, the Marmaton River-West Fork Dry Wood Creek drainage divide, the West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Cow Creek drainage divide, and the Paint Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide. Evidence presented in the topographic maps below demonstrates headward erosion of the West Fork Dry Wood Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to south oriented Cow Creek headwaters, headward erosion of the Paint Creek valley beheaded south oriented flood flow to Walnut Creek headwaters. Marmaton River valley headward erosion beheaded south oriented flood flow to the West Fork Dry Wood Creek valley, and Little Osage River valley headward erosion beheaded south oriented flood flow to the Mill Creek headwaters and to other south oriented Marmaton River tributary valleys.

Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide area in the Bourbon County northwest corner. Bronson is the town located near the figure 3 southwest corner and Mapleton is the town located in the figure 3 northeast quadrant. Devon is the smaller town located near the east edge in the southeast quadrant. Berlin is the place-name located in the figure 3 southeast quadrant and almost directly west of Devon. Turkey Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 south center edge. The southeast-oriented North Fork (little Osage River) and northeast-oriented South Fork join in the figure 3 northwest corner to form the Little Osage River, which flows in an east direction to the figure 3 north center area and then makes a jog to the south before turning to flow in an east and east-northeast direction to the figure 3 northeast corner area. Limestone Creek is the north-northeast, east, and north-northeast oriented tributary originating near Bronson and joining the Little Osage River at the elbow of capture where the Little Osage River turns from flowing in a south direction to flowing in an east direction. Note northwest and southeast oriented Limestone Creek tributaries. Regan Branch is the north oriented Little Osage River tributary flowing from the figure 3 center area. South of figure 3 Turkey Creek flows to the east oriented Marmaton River, which is located south of the figure 3 map area. Mill Creek originates near Berlin and flows in a southeast and east direction to the figure 3 east edge (south of Devon). East and south of the figure 3 Mill Creek flows in southeast direction to join the east-oriented Marmaton River. Little Mill Creek is the south oriented stream flowing along the figure 3 east edge to join Mill Creek south of Devon. Note shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valleys crossing the Limestone Creek-Turkey Creek and the Regan Branch-Mill Creek drainage divide. Shallow through valleys can be seen crossing other figure 3 drainage divides including the South Fork Little Osage River-Limestone Creek drainage divide. The through valleys and orientations of Limestone Creek tributary valleys and other tributary valleys provide evidence the major valleys were eroded headward across multiple south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Marmaton River valley south of the figure 3 map area captured the flood flow first and the Mill Creek and Turkey Creek valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Marmaton River valley. Next headward erosion of the Little Osage River-Limestone Creek valley beheaded south and southeast oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Marmaton River tributary valleys. North and northwest oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north and northwest ends of beheaded flood flow routes. The north oriented Limestone Creek valley segment was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on a beheaded flood flow route. The south-oriented Little Osage River valley segment was eroded along a captured south-oriented flood flow channel. Figure 4 below provides a detailed map of the Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide to better illustrate the through valleys.

Detailed map of Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Little Osage River-Mill Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Regan Branch is the north-oriented stream in the figure 4 northwest quadrant and north of the figure 4 map area flows to the Little Osage River (see figure 3). Other north-oriented streams flowing to the figure 4 north edge including the northwest-oriented stream in section 18 near the figure 4 north center are Little Osage River tributaries. Mill Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream in section 29 near the figure 4 south edge and south and east of the figure 4 map area flows to the Marmaton River. Other south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 4 south edge also flow to the Marmaton River. Note shallow through valleys crossing the Regan Branch-Mill Creek drainage divide and the drainage divide between the northwest-oriented Little Osage River tributary in section 18 and the south-oriented Mill Creek valley. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valleys appear to be defined by a single contour line although a larger scale through valley between the hill-top in the section 19 southwest quadrant and the hilltop in the section 20 northeast quadrant is defined by four contour lines to the west and three contour lines to the east. Study of the figure 4 map area and adjacent regions reveals multiple through valleys at various scales. These through valleys are water eroded features and were eroded by south-oriented flood water moving to what was then the actively eroding east-oriented Marmaton River valley south of the figure 4 map area. At that time the Little Osage River valley north of the figure 4 map area did not exist. Flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide. Through valleys were eroded as headward extensions of actively eroding south-oriented Marmaton River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Little Osage River valley north of the figure 4 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys. Reversed flow captured flood flow from yet to be beheaded flood flow channels further to the west. The reversal of flood flow was responsible for creating the Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide.

Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide area

Figure 5: Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide area east of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Fort Scott, Kansas is the city straddling the figure 5 south edge. Mapleton is the town located near the north edge in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. Redfield is the town located near the south edge in the figure 5 southwest quadrant. Berlin is the place-name located midway between Mapleton and Redfield and Devon is the small town located east of Berlin. Fulton is the town near the figure 5 north edge and located north of Fort Scott. Hammond is the place-name located midway between Fulton and Fort Scott. The Marmaton River meanders in an east direction just north of the east half of the figure 5 south edge and is located just south of the west half of the figure 5 south edge. The Little Osage River flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 5 west edge (north half) to the figure 5 north center edge and then flows in an east direction just south of the figure 5 north edge. Mill Creek originates near Berlin and flows in a southeast and east direction to join south-oriented Little Mill Creek south of Devon before flowing in a southeast direction to join the Marmaton River near Fort Scott. The south-oriented stream flowing from near Hammond to join the Marmaton River near Fort Scott is Wolverine Creek and the southeast-oriented stream originating east of Hammond and joining the Marmaton River near the figure 5 east edge is Shiloh Creek. Note how the Shiloh Creek valley is linked by a shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valley with the north-northwest oriented headwaters of a northeast-oriented Little Osage River tributary. Figure 6 below provides a detailed map to better illustrate this broad, but shallow through valley. Clever Creek is the north-northeast oriented tributary joining the Little Osage River just north of the figure 5 north center edge. Fish Creek is the north- and northeast-oriented tributary joining the Little Osage River near Fulton. Note how north-oriented Clever Creek and Fish Creek headwaters are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented Mill Creek tributaries. The through valleys again provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River valley. Flood waters were moving to what were then the actively eroding Shiloh Creek and Mill Creek tributary valleys which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Marmaton River valley. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River valley beheaded the flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys and to create the Little Osage River-Marmaton River drainage divide.

Detailed map of Little Osage River-Shiloh Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Detailed map of Little Osage River-Shiloh Creek 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 Osage River-Shiloh Creek drainage divide area near Hammond, Kansas which was seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Hammond is the small cluster of buildings near the figure 6 southwest corner. Shiloh Creek is the south-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6 south edge in section 27 (along the figure 6 south edge). South of the figure 6 map area Shiloh Creek flows in a southeast direction to join the east-oriented Marmaton River. Other south-oriented drainage flowing to the figure 6 south edge flows to Shiloh Creek south of the figure 6 map area. The north-oriented stream originating near Hammond and other north-oriented streams flowing to the figure 6 north edge are Little Osage River tributaries. Note the broad, but shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Shiloh Creek valley. A northwest-southeast oriented through valley can be seen in sections 20 and 21. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley is defined by at least 5 contour lines on each side. The valley extends from the hill-top in section 16 to the hill-top west of Hammond in section 19 and is more than one mile in width (the sections are one mile square). Another north-south oriented through valley can be seen in section 15 and is defined by at least three contour lines on each side. The section 15 through valley is also more than one mile in width. The through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River valley. Flood waters were moving to what was then the actively eroding Shiloh Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Marmaton River valley. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River valley north of the figure 6 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys and to create the Little Osage River-Shiloh Creek drainage divide.

Marmaton River-West Fork Dry Wood Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Marmaton River-West Fork Dry Wood Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 7 uses reduced size map to illustrate the Marmaton River-West Fork Dry Wood Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Fort Scott is the city straddling the figure 7 north edge. Redfield is the town located in the figure 7 northwest corner. The north-south oriented Kansas-Missouri state line is located near the figure 7 east edge. Strip mines areas are shown by light brown shading. The Marmaton River flows in an east-southeast and east-northeast direction from Redfield to the figure 7 north edge near Fort Scott. East of Fort Scott the east-oriented Marmaton River flows north of the figure 7 north edge. Paint Creek is the east-northeast oriented Marmaton River tributary flowing from the figure 7 west edge to join the Marmaton River where it turns from flowing in an east-southeast direction to flowing in an east-northeast direction. Pawnee Creek is the north-northeast and north oriented tributary flowing from the figure 7 south edge (west half) to join Paint Creek in the figure 7 northwest quadrant. Note other north-oriented Marmaton River tributaries, including north-oriented Rock Creek with two reservoirs flooding its valley located in the figure 7 north center area. The West Fork Dry Wood Creek flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 7 south center edge across the figure 7 southeast quadrant to the figure 7 east edge. East of the figure 7 map area the West Fork Dry Wood Creek joins north-northeast oriented Dry Wood Creek, which flows to east-oriented Marmaton River. Note southeast-oriented tributaries to the West Fork Dry Wood Creek. Richland Creek is the southeast-oriented tributary joining the West Fork Dry Wood Creek near the county boundary in the figure 7 south center edge area. Walnut Creek is the southeast-oriented tributary located north of Richland Creek. Note shallow northwest-southeast and north-south oriented through valleys linking the Richland Creek headwaters with northwest-oriented Pawnee Creek tributaries and linking south-oriented Walnut Creek headwaters with north-oriented Rock Creek headwaters. Figure 7a below provides a detailed map of the Pawnee Creek-Richland Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valley there. Note north-northeast oriented Pawnee Creek in the figure 7a northwest corner and southeast-oriented Richland Creek near the figure 7a south center edge. Pawnee Station is the town located in the broad northwest-southeast oriented through valley linking northwest-oriented Pawnee Creek tributary valleys with southeast-oriented Richland Creek head waters valleys. The figure 7a through valley is defined by at least five 10-foot contour lines on each side and is approximately two miles across. The through valley was eroded by southeast-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Richland Creek valley prior to headward erosion of the Pawnee Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Pawnee Creek valley beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow to the actively eroding Richland Creek valley and flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Pawnee Creek tributary valleys.

Figure 7a: Detailed map Pawnee Creek-Richland Creek drainage divide area seen in figure 7. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 


West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Cow Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Cow Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 8 illustrates the West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Cow Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Note the west to east oriented county line located next to the figure 8 north edge and the north-south oriented Kansas-Missouri state line located adjacent to the figure 8 east edge. Girard, Kansas is the town just west of the figure 8 south center area. Farlington is the much smaller town located just west of the figure 8 north center area and north of Girard. Farlington Lake is the reservoir located just to the northeast of Farlington and floods the West Fork Dry Wood Creek valley. From Farlington Lake the West Fork Dry Wood Creek flows in an east-northeast direction to the figure 8 north edge. The north-oriented stream along the figure 8 east edge (north half) is Cox Creek, which is a West Fork Dry Wood Creek tributary. Bone Creek is the northeast and north-northeast oriented West Fork Dry Wood Creek tributary located east of Farlington and west of the north-south oriented highway. The north-oriented stream west of Farlington is the headwaters of north-northeast oriented Pawnee Creek, which as seen in figure 7 flows to the east-oriented Marmaton River. The Marmaton River as previously mentioned flows to the Osage River, which flows to the Missouri River. The south-oriented stream west of Girard is Lightning Creek which south of the figure 8 map area flows to the Neosho River, which then flows to the Arkansas River. The south-oriented stream originating near Farlington and flowing to the figure 8 south center edge is Second Cow Creek. First Cow Creek is the south-oriented stream originating in WASHINGTON township in the figure 8 southeast quadrant. South of the figure 8 map area First and Second Cow Creeks join to form south-oriented Cow Creek, which flows to the southwest-oriented Spring River, which then flows to the Neosho River. In other words the drainage divide between the north-oriented figure 8 drainage and the south-oriented figure 8 drainage is the divide between the Missouri River drainage basin to the north and the Arkansas River drainage basin to the south. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking north-oriented valleys with south-oriented valleys. Figure 8a below provides a detailed map of the West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Second Cow Creek drainage divide area near Farlington to better illustrate the through valley there. Farlington is located in the figure 8a north center and the north-northeast oriented stream at Farlington is the West Fork Dry Wood Creek. The south-oriented stream flowing to the figure 8a south center edge is Second Cow Creek. The north-south oriented through valley in sections 13, 24, 18, and 19 is defined by at least five 10-foot contour lines on each side and is approximately two miles wide. The through valley provides evidence of a south-oriented flood flow route prior to headward erosion of the West Fork Dry Wood Creek valley. In other words, south-oriented flood flow moved from a rapidly melting ice sheet to the figure 8 map area and then south to the Arkansas River valley without being captured by any Missouri River tributary valleys until headward erosion of the northeast-oriented West Fork Dry Wood Creek valley captured the flood flow and diverted flood waters north and east to what were then newly eroded and actively eroding Osage River and Missouri River valleys.

Figure 8a: Detailed map of West Fork Dry Wood Creek-Second Cow Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Paint Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Paint Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area west of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Walnut is the town located in the figure 9 southwest corner and is located on south-southwest oriented Little Walnut Creek. Helper is the town located near the figure 9 center. South-southwest oriented Walnut Creek and a south- and southwest-oriented Walnut Creek tributary originate near Helper and flow to the figure 9 south edge (west half). South and west of the figure 9 map area Walnut Creek and Little Walnut Creek flow to south-southwest oriented Flat Creek, which then flows to the south-southeast and south oriented Neosho River. Farlington is the town located near the figure 9 east edge (south half). Second Cow Creek is the south-oriented stream in the figure 9 southeast corner area. Lightning Creek is the south-oriented stream in the figure 9 southeast quadrant located west of Second Cow Creek. Pawnee Creek is the north and northeast oriented stream in the figure 9 northeast quadrant. Paint Creek is the north oriented stream north of Helper. North of figure 9 as seen in figure 7 Paint Creek turns to flow in an east and east-northeast direction to join the Marmaton River. Pawnee Creek is a Paint Creek tributary. Note the broad north-northeast to south-southwest oriented through valley linking the north and northeast oriented Paint Creek and Pawnee Creek valleys with the south-southwest oriented Walnut Creek and Little Walnut Creek valleys. There is what appears to be a low southeast-facing escarpment in the figure 9 northwest quadrant which marks the through valley’s northwest margin. The through valley’s southeast margin is not as neatly defined, but can be seen in a chain of isolated hills near Farlington. The map contour interval is ten meters (maps at this scale use the metric system) and lowest points where the Missouri River-Arkansas River drainage divide crosses the through valley floor are less than 300 meters. The escarpment top in the figure 9 northwest quadrant exceeds 320 meters and the tops of isolated hills near Farlington also exceed 320 meters. Between the two 320 meter plus elevations is the broad through valley where elevations are generally between 300 and 310 meters. The through valley was eroded by sheets of south-oriented flood water moving to what was then the actively eroding south-oriented Neosho River valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the Marmaton River valley and tributary valleys from what were then newly eroded Osage River and Missouri River valleys beheaded and reversed  south-oriented flood flow so as to erode north-oriented Marmaton River tributary valleys and to create the Marmaton River-Neosho River drainage divide, which is also the divide between the Missouri River drainage basin to the north and the Arkansas River drainage basin to the south.

Detailed map of Paint Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Paint Creek-Walnut 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 Paint Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area west of Helper seen in less detail in figure 9. Helper is located near the figure 10 east edge (southeast quadrant). Walnut Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 10 southwest corner. South-oriented drainage east of Walnut Creek flows to south-southeast oriented Little Walnut Creek. The east-southeast oriented stream in section 21 (figure 10 north center area) which turns to flow in a northeast direction in section 22 is Paint Creek. Note the southeast-facing escarpment in the figure 10 northwest corner. The marked high point has an elevation of 1112 feet (maps at this scale use feet). The figure 10 map area shows only the west half of the broad through valley described in the figure 9 discussion. Floors of the deepest through valleys linking the north-oriented Paint Creek valley with the south-oriented Little Walnut Creek valley in sections 27 and 28 are between 980 and 990 feet, although much of the floor of the larger scale through valley described in figure 9 has an elevation of between 990 and 1000 feet. The hills near Farlington, which mark the east margin of the through valley rise to elevations of at least 1060 feet. In other words the largest scale north-south through valley seen in figure 9 is between 60-120 feet deep depending on which valley wall is used for measurement and extends from the southeast-facing escarpment to the hills near Farlington which is a width of at least 8 miles. The size and depth of this large through valley provides some clues as to amount of erosion the south-oriented flood waters caused. Volumes of water involved were immense to accomplish this scale of erosion and the figure 9 and 10 evidence does not include markers to indicate elevations not affected by flood water erosion. It is possible flood waters stripped significant amounts of material from the Little Osage River-Neosho River drainage divide area not determinable from present day evidence. In any case, south-oriented flood flow across the figures 9 and 10 map areas ended when headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Marmaton River valley captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted the flood waters to what were then the newly eroded Osage River and Missouri River valleys.

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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