Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area landform origins in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south-oriented floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flowed into and across eastern Kansas, where systematic headward erosion of deep east-oriented valleys captured the flood flow and diverted the flood waters to the Mississippi River valley. The Marais des Cygnes River flows in a southeast and south-southeast direction across the Miami and Linn County area and then flows into Missouri where it joins the east-oriented Little Osage River to form the Osage River. The Osage River then flows in an east and northeast direction to join the Missouri River, which flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River. The east-oriented Little Osage River flows across northern Bourbon County, which is located south of Linn County. Headward erosion of the Little Osage River valley captured south-oriented flood flow first. As headward erosion of the deep Marais des Cygnes River valley proceeded to the northwest other east-oriented tributary valleys eroded west to capture the south-oriented flood flow. Little Sugar Creek valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Little Osage River valley, Big Sugar Creek valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Little Sugar Creek valley. Middle Creek valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Big Sugar Creek valley. And finally, Marais des Cygnes River valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Middle Creek valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of major stream valleys and their tributary valleys and also numerous through valleys crossing present day east-west 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 Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area landform origins in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon 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 Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage 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 Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas. The eastern half of figure 1 illustrates an area in western Missouri and the figure 1 western half illustrates an area in eastern Kansas. The Missouri River flows along the Kansas-Missouri border from Atchison to Kansas City and then in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick, Missouri before turning to flow in a southeast direction to Jefferson City near the figure 1 east center edge. The Osage River is the northeast-oriented river flowing in a northeast direction from the Lake of the Ozarks in the figure 1 southeast quadrant to join the Missouri River near Jefferson City. The Osage River is formed near Schell City, Missouri (west of Harry S. Truman Lake) and flows in an east direction to Harry S. Truman Lake and then to the Lake of the Ozarks, both of which are large reservoirs flooding the Osage River valley. Rivers joining to form the Osage River near Schell City include the Marais des Cygnes River and Little Osage River. The Marais des Cygnes River originates near Eskridge, Kansas (southwest from Topeka) and flows in a south-southeast, east-northeast, and southeast direction to join the Little Osage River near Schell City, Missouri. The Little Osage River is not labeled in figure 1, but is the east-oriented stream flowing through Fulton, Kansas (near the Kansas-Missouri border) to join the Marais des Cygnes River near Schell City. Just before joining the Marais des Cygnes River the Little Osage River is joined by the northeast-oriented Marmaton River. The Miami, Linn, and Bourbon County, Kansas area is located on the west side of the Kansas-Missouri state line. The Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area discussed here is west of the Kansas state line, north of the Little Osage River, and south of the Marais des Cygnes River. Other essays address evidence in many adjacent drainage divide areas, especially in regions north and west of the Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties area and can be located under Osage River and Marais des Cygnes River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays collectively present significant evidence for immense south-oriented floods which flowed from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet into the figure 1 map area. Evidence presented in these essays suggests flood waters were systematically captured by headward erosion of deep east-oriented valleys, which eroded headward from the south-oriented Mississippi River valley (located east of the figure 1 map area). Headward erosion of the Little Osage River valley from what were then newly eroded Osage and Missouri River valleys captured south-oriented flood flow prior to headward erosion of the Marais des Cygnes River valley, which beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded and actively eroding Little Osage River valley. Headward erosion of the Missouri River-Kansas River valley subsequently beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded and actively eroding Marais des Cygnes River valley.

Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage 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 Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas. Franklin, Miami, Anderson, Linn, Allen, and Bourbon are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. Bates and Vernon are Missouri county names and the north-south oriented Kansas-Missouri state line separates the two states. The Marais des Cygnes River flows in a southeast direction from Franklin County to Osawatomie in Miami County and after a short jog in an east direction turns to flow in a south-southeast direction across the Linn County northeast quadrant and then in a southeast direction across the Bates County southwest quadrant. Middle Creek is the northeast and east oriented tributary joining the Marais des Cygnes River just north of the Miami County-Linn County border. Big Sugar Creek is the east oriented tributary joining the Marais des Cygnes River at Trading Post in Linn County. Little Sugar Creek is the northeast, east, and northeast-oriented Big Sugar Creek tributary flowing through Mound City in south central Linn County and joining Big Sugar Creek just before Big Sugar Creek joins the Marais des Cygnes River. Mine Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary joining the Marais des Cygnes River near the Kansas-Missouri state line. The Little Osage River flows in an east direction just south of the Linn County-Bourbon County border. Lost Creek is a southeast-oriented tributary originating in southern Linn County and flowing to the Little Osage River in Bourbon County. Once in Missouri the Little Osage River and Marais des Cygnes River join to form the east-oriented Osage River, which then serves as the eastern fourth of the Bates County-Vernon County border. The Osage River as seen in figure 1 turns to flow in a northeast direction east of the figure 2 map area to join the Missouri River. The Marais des Cygnes River-Little Osage River drainage divide area in Miami, Linn, and Bourbon Counties, Kansas is actually a series of drainage divides. This essay begins by looking at the Marais des Cygnes-Middle Creek drainage divide and then continues south to the Middle Creek-Big Sugar Creek drainage divide, the Big Sugar Creek-Little Sugar Creek drainage divide, and the Little Sugar Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide. The essay concludes with a look at the Mine Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide in southeast Linn County. Evidence illustrated in the topographic maps shown demonstrates headward erosion of the east-oriented Little Osage River captured south-oriented first, headward erosion of the Little Sugar Creek valley captured the flood water next and headward erosion of the Big Sugar Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the Little Sugar Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Middle Creek valley next beheaded flood flow to the Big Sugar Creek valley and Marais des Cygnes River valley headward erosion finally beheaded flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded Middle Creek valley.

Marais des Cygnes River-Middle Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: Marais des Cygnes River-Middle Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 3 illustrates the Marais des Cygnes River-Middle Creek drainage divide area in southwest Miami County. Osawatomie is the town straddling the figure 3 north center edge. Fontana is the smaller town located in the figure 3 east center area and Beagle is the small town located near the figure 3 center. Beagle is the small town located near the figure 3 center. The Marais des Cygnes River meanders in an east direction from Osawatomie to the figure 3 northeast corner area and then turns to flow in a south and south-southeast direction to the figure 3 southeast corner area. Pottawatomie Creek is the east-northeast oriented tributary joining the Marais des Cygnes River near Osawatomie. Jordan Branch is the southeast and north-northeast oriented tributary also joining the Marais des Cygnes River near Osawatomie. Middle Creek is the northeast, east, northeast, and southeast oriented stream flowing from the figure 3 south edge (west half) to join the Marais des Cygnes River near the figure 3 southeast corner. Mound Creek is the east-northeast and southeast oriented tributary joining Middle Creek south of Beagle. Hushpuckney Creek is the southeast-oriented tributary joining Middle Creek southwest of Fontana. Note how southeast-oriented Mound Creek tributaries are linked by shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valleys with northwest-oriented Pottawatomie Creek tributaries. The tributary orientations and the through valleys provide evidence of southeast-oriented flood flow routes to what at that time was the newly eroded Mound Creek valley and which were subsequently beheaded by Pottawatomie Creek valley headward erosion. The northwest-oriented Pottawatomie Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on northwest ends of the beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow routes. Another shallow through valley can be seen near Beagle linking the north-oriented Jordan Branch valley with south-oriented Mound Creek and Middle Creek tributary valleys and is illustrated in more detail in figure 4 below. Still other through valleys link the southeast-oriented Hushpuckney Creek valley with unnamed north-oriented Marais des Cygnes River tributary valleys. These through valleys provide evidence of significant south-oriented flood flow moving to what was then the newly eroded Hushpuckney Creek and Middle Creek valleys prior to headward erosion of the Marais des Cygnes River valley (north of the Hushpuckney Creek valley). Headward erosion of the Marais des Cygnes River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Hushpuckney Creek valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the unnamed north-oriented Marais des Cygnes River tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Jordan Branch-Hushpuckney Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Jordan Branch-Hushpuckney 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 Jordan Branch-Hushpuckney Creek drainage divide area near Beagle, Kansas which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Beagle is the town located near the figure 4 south edge (west half). The Jordan Branch originates as a southeast-oriented stream flowing into section 35 (north of Beagle) and then turning to flow in a north-northeast direction to the figure 4 north edge. As seen in figure 3 north of the figure 4 map area the Jordan Branch joins the Marais des Cygnes River. Other north-oriented drainage flowing to the figure 4 north edge is either tributary to the Jordan Branch or flows directly to the Marais des Cygnes River. Hushpuckney Creek originates in section 36 near the figure 4 center and after flowing into section 31 turns to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 4 east edge (south half) and south and east of figure 4 joins Middle Creek. Other south-oriented drainage flowing to the figure 4 south edge flows to Middle Creek or to Mound Creek, which is a Middle Creek tributary. Several shallow through valleys link the north-oriented Marais des Cygnes River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Middle Creek tributary valleys. Perhaps the most obvious of these through valleys are located in sections 2 and 3. The floor of the section 2 through valley has an elevation of between 950 and 960 feet and tops of hills on either side are higher than 980 feet. The section 3 through valley floor is slightly higher at between 960 and 970 feet, although hills west of the through valley rise to elevations of at least 1060 feet (and to over 1100 feet just west of the figure 4 map area). While not seen in the figure 4 map area the ridge just west of figure 4 is crossed by shallow through valleys with floor elevations of greater than 1050 feet. The through valleys while shallow and not conspicuous features provide evidence of south-oriented flood channels that once moved flood water across the figure 4 map area. The channels were probably eroded by flood water moving to what was then the newly eroded Middle Creek (and Mound Creek) valley and to south-oriented tributary valleys actively eroding headward from that valley. Headward erosion of the deep Marais des Cygnes River valley north of the figure 4 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes across the figure 4 map area in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Marais des Cygnes tributary valleys and to create the Marais des Cygnes River-Middle Creek drainage divide.

Middle Creek-Big Sugar Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Middle Creek-Big Sugar Creek 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 Middle Creek-Big Sugar Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. The Marais des Cygnes River flows in a south-southeast direction near the railroad in the figure 5 northeast corner. Cadmus is the very small town located east of the figure 5 center area. Parker is the town south and west of the figure 5 center and Goodrich is the town located south of Parker. Goodrich is located at the junction of southeast oriented Goodrich Creek and east-southeast oriented Landers Creek. Downstream the combined stream is named North Sugar Creek, which flows to form east-oriented Big Sugar Creek (which is located south of the figure 5 map area. Middle Creek flows from the figure 5 west center edge area in an east and northeast direction to the Linn County-Miami County line and then in an east and northeast direction to join southeast oriented Hushpuckney Creek near the figure 5 north edge (east half) before turning to flow in a southeast direction to join the Marais des Cygnes River near the figure 5 east edge (north half). Mound Creek is the northeast, east, and southeast-oriented Middle Creek tributary located in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. Elm Creek is the northeast oriented tributary flowing from near Cadmus to join Middle Creek just before Middle Creek joins the Marais des Cygnes River. Note southeast- and northwest-oriented Middle Creek and Elm Creek tributaries. The orientations of these tributaries provides evidence the northeast oriented Elm Creek and Middle Creek valley segments eroded headward across multiple southeast-oriented flood flow channels such as might be found in a southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Note how a shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valley links a north-northeast oriented Middle Creek tributary valley with a southeast-oriented Elm Creek tributary valley just north of the figure 5 center. Also note shallow through valleys crossing the Mound Creek-Middle Creek drainage divide and a shallow north-south oriented through valley near Parker linking the north-oriented Middle Creek valley with the south-oriented Goodrich Creek valley. The through valleys are better seen on more detailed maps and figure 5a below provides a detailed map of the Middle Creek Creek-Elm Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys. Middle Creek flows in a northeast direction in the figure 5a northwest corner. Cadmus is the town located in the figure 5a southeast corner and Elm Creek is the northeast and southeast oriented stream flowing through Cadmus. Through valleys linking a north-northeast oriented Middle Creek tributary valley with an east-oriented Elm Creek tributary valley can be seen in section 35 (figure 5a). The deepest valley floor has an elevation of 970-980 feet while the adjacent hill tops on each side rise to elevations greater than 1020 feet. Study of the figure 5a drainage divide reveals numerous other shallower through valleys. The through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow routes that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Middle Creek valley. South and southeast oriented flood flow was initially moving to what was then the newly eroded Big Sugar Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Elm Creek valley then captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters to the actively eroding Marais des Cygnes River valley. Next headward erosion of the deep Middle Creek valley and tributary valleys beheaded flood flow routes to what was then the actively eroding Elm Creek valley.

Figure 5a: Detailed map of Middle Creek-Elm Creek drainage divide near Cadmus. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Big Sugar Creek-Little Sugar Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Big Sugar Creek-Little Sugar Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 illustrates the Big Sugar Creek-Little Sugar Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 5 map area and includes a thin overlap strip with figure 5. Goodrich is located in the figure 6 northwest corner. Trading Post is the town located near the figure 6 northeast corner. Mound City is the town located east of the figure 6 south center area. Pleasanton is the town located just south of the figure 6 east center area. The south-southeast oriented Marais des Cygnes River is located in the figure 6 northeast corner area. The South Fork Sugar Creek flows in an east and northeast direction from the figure 6 west center to join southeast-oriented North Sugar Creek (which flows from the figure 6 northwest corner) to form east oriented Big Sugar Creek, which flows from the figure 6 northwest quadrant to join the Marais des Cygnes River near the figure 6 northeast corner.  Coffeebean Creek is the northeast and northwest oriented South Sugar Creek tributary in the figure 6 west center area. Turkey Creek and Hazel Creek are northeast-oriented tributaries joining Big Sugar Creek in the figure 6 north center area. Little Sugar Creek is the east oriented stream flowing from the figure 6 southwest quadrant to Mound City and then flowing in a north and north-northeast direction to join Big Sugar Creek just east of the figure 6 northeast corner area. North Fork is the northeast and east-southeast oriented tributary joining Little Sugar Creek in the figure 6 southwest quadrant. Alexander Branch is the southeast and south-southeast oriented tributary joining east-oriented Little Sugar Creek east of North Fork. Mine Creek is the east-northeast, east, and northeast oriented stream originating south of Mound City and flowing to the figure 6 east edge east of Pleasanton. East of the figure 6 map area Mine Creek flows to the Marais des Cygnes River. Note the large northwest-southeast oriented through valley linking the north-oriented Little Sugar Creek valley with the east- and northeast-oriented Mine Creek valley. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the Little Sugar Creek-Mine Creek through valley area. Elevation of the through valley floor is between 890 and 900 feet. Hills to the southwest rise to elevations in excess of 1060 feet and hills to the northeast rise to elevations in excess of 1030 feet. The through valley is a water eroded feature and provides evidence of southeast-oriented flood flow to what was once an actively eroding Mine Creek valley, which had eroded headward from the newly eroded Marais des Cygnes River valley. At the time the Little Sugar Creek-Mine Creek through valley was eroded Marais des Cygnes River headward erosion had not yet beheaded south-oriented flood flow on the Little Sugar Creek alignment. When headward erosion of the Marais des Cygnes River valley did behead flood flow on the Little Sugar Creek alignment flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Little Sugar Creek valley segment. Note how the Alexander Branch valley is linked by shallow through valleys with the northwest-oriented Coffeebean Creek valley segment and also with the northeast-oriented Turkey Creek valley. These shallow through valleys provide further evidence of beheaded flood flow routes, although the shallow through valleys do not give a true measure of the amount of flood erosion that has occurred in the figure 6 map area.

Figure 6a: Detailed map of northwest-southeast oriented through valley linking the north-oriented Little Sugar Creek valley with east and northeast oriented Mine Creek valley. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Little Sugar Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Little Sugar Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide area south of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Mound City is the town located in the figure 7 northeast quadrant. Mapleton is the town located east of the figure 7 south center area and Blue Mound is the town located north of the figure 7 west center area. The North Fork Little Sugar Creek originates north of Blue Mound and flows in a northeast and east direction to join the north-northeast oriented South Fork and then to flow east as Little Sugar Creek to Mound City. From Mound City Little Sugar Creek flows north as seen in figure 6 above. Note north and north-northeast oriented Little Sugar Creek tributaries. Buck Creek is the east-northeast and north-northeast oriented Little Sugar Creek tributary in the figure 7 north center area. The Little Osage River flows in an east direction in the figure 7 southwest quadrant before making a jog to the south and then flowing in an east-northeast direction to the figure 7 east edge (south half). Note southeast and south oriented Little Osage River tributaries. Lost Creek is the southeast-oriented tributary originating in the figure 7 center area and flowing toward the figure 7 southeast corner area until it joins the east-northeast oriented Little Osage River. Figure 7 drainage history began with headward erosion of the Little Osage River to capture south and southeast oriented flood flow moving across the entire figure 7 map area. The south and southeast-oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Little Osage River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow routes. Headward erosion of the east-oriented  Little Sugar Creek valley (from the newly reversed flood flow channel at Mound City, which was reversed when Marais des Cygnes River valley headward erosion beheaded the south-oriented flood flow route) beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes west of Mound City. Flood waters on north ends of those beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Little Sugar Creek tributary valleys. Through valleys are not easy to see on the figure 7 map, although a shallow north-south oriented through valley can be seen linking the north-oriented Buck Creek valley with the southeast-oriented Lost Creek valley. Figure 8 below provides a detailed map of the Buck Creek-Lost Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys across that divide. The through valleys provide evidence of flood flow across the entire figure 7 map area, which is generally at an elevation equivalent to the tops of the hills on either side of the Little Sugar Creek-Mine Creek through valley seen in figure 6a. While flood waters crossed the entire figure 7 map area unlike in the figure 6 map area there are no markers to indicate how much material was eroded from the figure 7 map area.

Detailed map of Buck Creek-Lost Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Buck Creek-Lost 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 Buck Creek-Lost Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 7 above. Buck Creek originates in section 30 and flows in an east-northeast direction to the section 28 northwest corner and then in a north direction to the figure 8 north edge. Lost Creek flows in a southeast direction in the figure 8 southwest quadrant to the figure 8 south edge. A south-oriented Lost Creek tributary valley has multiple tributary valleys in sections 32, 33, and 34 and drains south through section 4 to the figure 8 south edge. Note how the south-oriented Lost Creek tributary valley is linked by a north-south oriented through valley with the north-oriented Buck Creek valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 1040 and 1050 feet and the hills to west and east of the through valley rise to elevations of greater than 1080 feet. The through valley is approximately one mile wide (sections are one mile square). The through valley is a water eroded feature and provides evidence of a major south-oriented flood flow channel that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Little Sugar Creek valley north of the figure 8 map area. Flood waters that eroded the north-south oriented through valley were probably eroding the southeast-oriented Lost Creek valley and its south-oriented tributary valley. Headward erosion of the Little Sugar Creek valley north of the figure 8 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Little Sugar Creek valley. The reversal of flood flow also captured yet to beheaded (by Little Sugar Creek headward erosion) south-oriented flood flow west of the newly reversed flood flow channel. Note in sections 30 and 19 (north of section in the figure 8 northwest corner area) shallow through valleys linking the east-oriented Buck Creek headwaters with a north-oriented Little Sugar Creek tributary west of Buck Creek. The captured flood flow from west of the actively eroding Little Sugar Creek valley head provided the water volumes required to erode the north-oriented Buck Creek valley. The flood flow reversal also created the Buck Creek-Lost Creek drainage divide.

Mine Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide area

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


Figure 9 illustrates the Mine Creek-Little Osage River drainage divide area east of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7 and with figure 6. Mound City is the town located in the figure 9 northwest corner area. Hume is the town located near the figure 9 east center edge area. Prescott is the town located east of the figure 9 south center area. Colored areas are strip mine areas. East and north oriented Little Sugar Creek can be seen flowing through Mound City in the figure 9 northwest corner area. The east oriented Little Osage River is located north and south of the figure 9 south edge and can be seen in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. South and southeast oriented drainage in the figure 9 south half is tributary to the Little Osage River. Mine Creek originates south of Mound City and flows east, northeast, east, and northeast to the figure 9 north edge. North and east of the figure 9 map area Mine Creek flows to the south-southeast oriented Marais des Cygnes River. Note north, north-northwest, and northwest oriented Mine Creek tributaries. Walnut Creek is the east and northeast-oriented stream located in the figure 9 northeast quadrant between Mine Creek and Hume. East and north of the figure 9 map area Walnut Creek also joins the Marais des Cygnes River. The large northwest-southeast Little Sugar Creek-Mine Creek through valley seen in figure 6a can be seen northeast of Mound City. Note other north-south and northwest-southeast oriented through valleys linking north-oriented Mine Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys. The through valleys are eroded across what appears to be a northeast-oriented ridge, which marks the Mine Creek-Little Osage River and Mine Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide. The north-south oriented railroad line makes use of the one of the largest north-south oriented through valleys. The ridge is an erosional feature, but also may be due to other factors not determinable from topographic map evidence. The through valleys eroded across the ridge are definitely erosional features and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to what were once the actively eroding Little Osage River valley and its tributary valleys prior to headward erosion of the Mine Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Mine Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding Little Osage River tributary valleys (and also Walnut Creek tributary valleys). Flood waters on north and northwest ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north, north-northwest, and northwest oriented Mine Creek tributary valleys. Figure 10 below provides a detailed map of the Mine Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area north of Prescott.

Detailed map of Mine Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Mine 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 Mine Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area north of Prescott seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Mine Creek flows in a northeast direction from the figure 10 west edge across the figure 9 northwest quadrant to the figure 9 north edge. Walnut Creek originates in section 21 and flows in an east direction across the figure 10 southeast quadrant to the figure 10 east edge. South-oriented drainage west of the Walnut Creek headwaters flows to the east-oriented Little Osage River. High points scattered along the southeast to northeast oriented ridge between Mine Creek and the Little Osage and Walnut Creek drainage basins rise to elevations greater than 1000 feet, although the ridge is crossed by multiple north-northeast to south-southeast oriented through valleys and has otherwise been deeply eroded. One of the deepest through valleys is used by the railroad line and the floor of that through valley where the railroad crosses the drainage divide (actually south of the ridge) is between 920 and 930 feet. A slightly deeper, although narrower through valley is located in the figure 15 southwest corner and the valley floor in that valley is between 910 and 920 feet in elevation. These two through valleys are 80-90 feet deep and are significant water eroded features. What is interesting about both valleys is the drainage divide is located at the south margin of the ridge, suggesting final water movements through the valleys was in a north direction, not a south direction. The through valleys however probably originated as south-oriented flood flow channels moving flood waters to what were at that time south-oriented Little Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Walnut Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes in the figure 10 southeast quadrant and diverted he water east and northeast to the newly eroded Marais des Cygnes River valley. Headward erosion of the Mine Creek valley next 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 Mine Creek tributary valleys. Because flood flow routes were beheaded one channel at a time and because flood flow channels were interconnected the reversed flood flow in a newly reversed channel could capture yet to beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west. This yet to be beheaded flood flow provided the water volumes needed to erode the north-oriented Mine Creek tributary valleys, which eroded headward into the region south of the southeast-northeast oriented ridge.

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.

4 Comments

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  1. Brad

    Greetings,

    I’m originally from this area and thus found this interesting. If you would please comment about why the upper half of Hazel Branch’s valley is higher in elevation than the west adjoining Turkey creek’s tributary. I’ve always thought it odd that Hazel Branch’s Basin even formed due to it proximity to bigger and most of the time deeper Turkey & Little Sugar Creeks valleys. This area is in figure 6. I look forward to your response.

    • Brad

      Thanks Eric! When I get time I’ll probably have more questions for you if that is OK?

  2. Andy

    I am reading “Went to Kansas” an account from 1856 which describes travel by settlers into this region. It describes a ferry crossing on the “Big Osage”, fording Mine Creek the next day, and fording the Little Osage the following day. The distance covered seems to be a total of only 20 miles or so. The ford of the Little Osage was described as being difficult, taking up most of the second day. I am curious about where this ferry might have been.

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