Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform origins in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri is a west to east oriented drainage divide between the east-northeast and southeast oriented Missouri River to the north and the east, northeast, and east oriented Blackwater River to the south. The drainage divide area was eroded by immense south oriented floods derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. Flood waters were captured in sequence from south to north by headward erosion of deep east-oriented valleys. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Blackwater River valley flood waters were flowing to what were then actively eroding south oriented Osage River tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded east- and northeast-oriented Osage River valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Missouri River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River-Blackwater River valley north of the newly eroded Osage River valley beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow to actively eroding south-oriented Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Davis Creek valley from the newly eroded Blackwater River valley (and north of the Blackwater River) next beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow to actively eroding south- and southeast-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys. Headward of the deep east – and southeast-oriented Salt Fork valley from the newly eroded Blackwater River valley next beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow to some actively eroding south-oriented Davis Creek tributary valleys. Finally headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Salt Fork valley, the newly eroded Davis Creek valley (west of the Salt Fork valley), and to actively eroding southeast-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys (west of the Davis Creek valley head). Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientation of major and tributary valleys and through valleys eroded across present day west-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 Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area landform origins in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri, USA. Map interpretation methods can be used to unravel many geomorphic events leading up to formation of present-day drainage routes and development of other landform features. While each detailed topographic map feature provides detailed evidence to be explained, the solution must be consistent with explanations for adjacent area map evidence as well as solutions to big picture map evidence puzzles. I invite readers to improve upon my solutions and/or to propose alternate solutions that better explain evidence and are also consistent with adjacent map area and big picture evidence. Readers may do so either by making comments here or by writing and publishing their own essays and then by leaving a link to those essays in a comment here.
  • This essay is also exploring a new geomorphology paradigm in which erosional landforms are interpreted as evidence left by immense glacial melt water floods. Implied in that interpretation is the immense floods were derived from a thick North American ice sheet that created a deep “hole” in the North American continent and also melted fast. The previously unexplored paradigm being tested in this and other 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 Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area location map

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


Figure 1 provides a Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri location map and illustrates an area in Missouri with Illinois located in the figure 1 northeast corner and Kansas located near the figure 1 west edge. The Mississippi River is the south-southeast oriented river forming the Missouri-Illinois boundary in the figure 1 northeast corner. The Missouri River forms the Kansas-Missouri state boundary between the figure 1 north edge (near the northeast corner) and Kansas City. From Kansas City the Missouri River flows in an east-northeast direction to near Brunswick and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to Jefferson City. From Jefferson City the Missouri River flows in an east direction (east of the figure 1 map area) to join the Mississippi River. Lafayette County, Missouri is located east of Kansas City and the east-northeast oriented Missouri River from west of Wellington to just east of Waverly forms the Lafayette County northern border. The Blackwater River is located south of Lafayette County and flows in a north and east direction to join the southeast-oriented Missouri River segment.  Davis Creek is the unlabeled east-oriented tributary joining the northeast and east oriented Blackwater River near Sweet Springs (south of Waverly). The east- and northeast-oriented river south of the Blackwater River and flowing from the Harry S. Truman Reservoir to the Lake of the Ozarks and then to the Missouri River near Jefferson City is the Osage River. The Missouri River-Davis Creek drainage divide area in Lafayette County is located south of the Missouri River segment extending from west of Wellington to just east of Waverly and is north of Davis Creek. This essay is one of several hundred Missouri River drainage basin landforms origins research project essays. Collectively the essays present evidence for immense south-oriented floods from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. Flood waters flowed into the figure 1 map area and were captured in sequence by headward erosion of deep east-oriented valleys. In the figure 1 map area headward erosion of the deep Osage River valley captured the south-oriented flood flow first. Headward erosion of the Deep Missouri River-Blackwater River valley next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Osage River valley. Davis Creek valley headward erosion from the newly eroded Blackwater River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded western Blackwater River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River then beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Davis Creek-Blackwater River valley. Topographic maps illustrated below show evidence supporting this south-oriented flood origin interpretation.

Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area detailed location map

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

Figure 2 provides a detailed location map for the Missouri River-Blackwater River drainage divide area in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, Missouri. Clay, Ray, Carroll, Jackson, Lafayette, Saline, Cass, Johnson, and Pettis are Missouri county names and the county boundaries are shown. The Missouri River meanders in an east-northeast direction from Kansas City located along the figure 2 west edge to near Brunswick and then turns to flow in a southeast, south, and southeast direction to the figure 2 east center edge. The Missouri River serves as a county boundary line for its entire route across the figure 2 map area. Major north-oriented Missouri River tributaries in Lafayette County are East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek and Tabo Creek. The Blackwater River is formed at the confluence of several tributaries near Warrensburg in Johnson County and flows in a northeast direction to join east-oriented Davis Creek near Sweet Springs in the Saline County southwest corner. From Sweet Springs the Blackwater River flows in an east-northeast and east direction to join the Missouri River near the figure 2 east edge. An interesting Blackwater River tributary is Salt Fork, which originates in eastern Lafayette County as a north-oriented stream and which then turns to flow in an east direction into Saline County and finally turns to flow in a southeast direction to join the Blackwater River in southeast Saline County. Note southeast and south-southeast oriented Blackwater River tributaries in northern Johnson County. Headward erosion of the northeast and east oriented Blackwater River valley from what was at that time the actively eroding Missouri River valley head captured south-oriented flood flow routes in Johnson County and diverted flood water to what was then the newly eroded Missouri River valley. Southeast and south-southeast oriented valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Blackwater River valley along and across the south-oriented flood flow routes. At the same time east-oriented valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Blackwater River valley and beheaded flood flow to the actively eroding Blackwater River tributary valleys. The Davis Creek valley was the most successful of these east-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys and eroded headward to behead south-oriented flood flow routes to most other actively eroding southeast, south-southeast, and east oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley next beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Davis Creek valley and remaining flood flow routes to still actively eroding Blackwater River tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys and to create the Missouri River-Davis Creek and Blackwater River drainage divide.

East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide area

Figure 3: East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 3 illustrates the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide area in southwest Lafayette County. Odessa is the town near the figure 3 north edge just east of the figure 3 north center edge. Chapel Hill is a place-name located along the Lafayette-Johnson County border in the figure 3 southwest quadrant. The North Fork Blackwater River originates slightly west and south of the figure 3 center area and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 3 south edge (east half) and then to the northeast-oriented Blackwater River south and east of the figure 3 map area. Honey Creek is the southeast-oriented Blackwater River tributary flowing to the figure 3 southeast corner. The south-southwest oriented stream in the figure 3 southwest corner flows to southeast-oriented Big Creek, which flows to southeast-oriented South Grand River, which flows to the east and northeast oriented Osage River (see figure 1). The south-southeast oriented stream in figure 3 southwest quadrant (south of Chapel Hill) is the South Fork Blackwater River and south of the figure 3 map area flows in an east-northeast and east direction to join the northeast-oriented Blackwater River. North-oriented streams west of Odessa flowing to the figure 3 north edge (from west to east) are Horseshoe Creek and Little Horseshoe Creek and the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek. All three streams north of the figure 3 map area join Sni-a-Bar Creek which then flows in a north-northeast direction to join the east-northeast oriented Missouri River. The east-oriented stream originating near Odessa and flowing to the figure 3 east edge (north half) is Davis Creek and south of Davis Creek is east-oriented South Davis Creek, which east of figure 3 joins Davis Creek. Study of figure 3 reveals shallow north-south oriented through valleys eroded across the drainage divides. The map contour interval is ten meters and some through valleys are defined by a single contour line on each side. Several through valleys linking the north-oriented East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek valley with south-oriented tributaries to the southeast-oriented North Fork Blackwater River valley are defined by three or more contour lines on each side. These through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that moved flood waters to what was once the actively eroding North Fork Blackwater River valley prior to headward erosion of the Missouri River valley north of the figure 3 map area. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley north of the figure 3 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek and Sni-A-Bar Creek valleys and to create the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-North Fork Blackwater River drainage divide.

Detailed map of East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-North Fork Blackwater River drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-North Fork Blackwater River drainage divide area.United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

 

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-North Fork Blackwater River drainage divide area near Chapel Hill seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Chapel Hill is a small cluster of buildings on the Lafayette County-Johnson County boundary line along the figure 4 west edge. The North Fork Blackwater River flows in a southeast direction from section 32 to section 4 and then in an east direction along the figure 4 south edge. South and east of the figure 4 map area the North Fork Blackwater River flows in a southeast direction to join the northeast and east oriented Blackwater River. All north-oriented streams flowing to the figure 4 north edge are either East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek headwaters or tributaries. North of the figure 4 map area the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek flows to north-northeast oriented Sni-A-Bar Creek, which flows to the Missouri River. Note the north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek headwaters and tributary valleys with south-oriented North Fork Blackwater Creek tributary valleys. One of the deepest through valleys is located at the corner of sections 29, 30, 31, and 32. The floor of that through valley has an elevation of between 910 and 920 feet (the map contour interval is ten feet). The hill with the radio tower to the east has an elevation of at least 1010 feet. The hill to the west rises to over 1070 feet. The through valley width is approximately one half mile (sections are one mile square). Several shallower north-south oriented through valleys have been eroded across the elongate hill to the east of the radio tower. The elongate hill ends near the section 28-27 border although an isolated hill rising to at least 1000 feet is found in section 24 about two miles east of the figure 4 map area. In other words the eastern end of the elongate hill near the section 28-27 border is the western wall of a much wider north-south oriented through valley. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once moved flood water to what was then the actively eroding North Fork Blackwater River valley. At that time the deep Missouri River valley north of the figure 4 map area did not exist. Headward erosion of the Missouri River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. In figure 4 the reversal of flood flow eroded the north-oriented East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek tributary and headwaters valleys and created the East Fork Sni-A-Bar Creek-North Fork Blackwater River drainage divide.

Little Sni-A-Bar Creek-Davis Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Little Sni-A-Bar Creek-Davis Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 illustrates the Little Sni-A-Bar Creek-Davis Creek drainage divide area north and east of the figure 3 map area. Odessa is the town located in the figure 5 southwest corner. Higginsville is the town located in the northeast quadrant. Mayview is the smaller town located near the figure 5 center. The north and northwest oriented stream in the figure 5 northwest quadrant is Little Sni-A-Bar Creek and north and west of the figure 5 map area flows to the Missouri River as a barbed tributary. The east-northeast oriented Missouri River is located a short distance north of the figure 5 map area. The north-oriented stream west of Higginsville in the figure 5 northeast quadrant is Tabo Creek, which north of the figure 5 map area flows to the Missouri River. Brush Creek is the north-northeast and southeast oriented Tabo Creek tributary located north of Mayview. Note southeast-oriented tributaries to the east and east-northeast oriented Tabo Creek headwaters located south of Mayview. Davis Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 5 south edge and in the figure 5 southeast corner area turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 5 east edge. Note how the Davis Creek channel has been straightened in the figure 5 southeast corner area. Also note southeast-oriented Davis Creek tributaries. Marles Creek is a south-southeast oriented Davis Creek tributary flowing from Higginsville to join Davis Creek near the figure 5 east edge. Note how the Marles Creek alignment is the same as the alignment of north-northwest oriented Long Branch, which flows from Higginsville to join Tabo Creek just north of the figure 5 map area. Study of the figure 5 map area reveals shallow through valleys linking the southeast-oriented Davis Creek tributary valleys with valleys of north-oriented Missouri River tributaries. The through valleys are most apparent in regions where there is some relief and northeast from Odessa there is a ridge of low hills which is shown in detail in figure 5a below. Little Sni-A-Bar Creek headwaters flow in a northeast, east, and northeast direction to the figure 5a north center edge area and then turn to flow in a north and north-northwest direction north of the figure 5a map area. Southeast-oriented streams flowing to the figure 5a south edge are Davis Creek tributaries. Note how a north-oriented Little Sni-A-Bar Creek tributary has eroded what appears to be a water gap across the southwest-northeast oriented ridge and is linked by shallow through valleys further south with southeast-oriented Davis Creek tributaries. While mining activity has altered the regional topography somewhat the water gap appears to be at least 150 feet deep and provides evidence south-oriented flood waters once flowed across the ridge top. The ridge top represents some of the highest elevations in the region, which means flood waters deeply eroded the entire region. The water gap was mostly eroded by a south-oriented flood flow channel supplying water to what was then the newly eroded Davis Creek valley. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley north of the figure 5 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow and the resulting reversal of flood flow on north ends of south-oriented flood flow channels eroded the north and north-northwest oriented Little Sni-A-Bar Creek valley including the remainder of the north-oriented Little Sni-A-Bar Creek tributary valley in what now appears to be a water gap.

Figure 5a: Detailed map of Little Sni-A-Bar Creek-Davis Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Davis Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 illustrates the Davis Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide area located south of the figure 5 map area and east of the figure 3 map area. Odessa is the town located in the figure 6 northwest corner. The highway intersection south of Higginsville is located near the north edge in the figure 6 northeast quadrant. Davis Creek flows in an east direction from near Odessa across the figure 6 north center area and then turns to flow in a northeast direction south of the Higginsville highway interchange. South Davis Creek is located south of Davis Creek in the figure 6 west half and flows in an east direction before turning to flow in a north-northeast direction to join Davis Creek in the figure 6 north center area. North Blackjack Creek is the northwest and north-northeast tributary flowing to Davis Creek south of the Higginsville highway intersection. The southeast-oriented North Fork Blackwater River is located in the figure 6 southwest corner. Honey Creek is the southeast-oriented stream east of the North Fork Blackwater River and flows to the Blackwater River south of the figure 6 map area. Walnut Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream with a south-southwest oriented tributary (Crooked Creek) located east of Honey Creek and also flows to the Blackwater River. Blackjack  Creek is the east-southeast oriented stream in the figure 6 southeast corner area and flows also to the Blackwater River. Close study of the figure 6 map area reveals shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking north-oriented Davis Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys, although the through valleys are better seen on more detailed topographic maps. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the drainage divide area between a north-oriented South Davis Creek tributary and south-oriented Honey Creek tributaries near where the west to east oriented Lafayette-Johnson County line makes a short jog to the north before continuing in an east direction. The north-oriented stream flowing to the figure 6a north center edge is a South Davis Creek tributary. Southeast-oriented Honey Creek is located in the figure 6a southwest quadrant and south-oriented streams further to the east are Honey Creek tributaries. The deepest identifiable figure 6a north-south oriented through valley is located in section 35 and is defined by three 10-foot contour lines on each side. Numerous other shallower through valleys are also present. The through valleys and orientations of the north- and south-oriented tributary valleys they link provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels prior to headward erosion of the deep South Davis Creek valley. Headward erosion of the South Davis Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to the erode the north-oriented South Davis Creek tributary valley and to create the South Davis Creek-Honey Creek drainage divide.

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

Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area north and east of the figure 5 map area. The Confederate Memorial State Park seen in figure 5 (north of Higginsville) is located near the figure 7 southwest corner. Waverly is the town located near the figure 7 northeast corner. Blackburn is the town located in the figure 7 southeast corner and Alma is the town located near the south edge a short distance west of Blackburn. Corder is the town located near the figure 7 south center edge. The Missouri River meanders in an east-northeast direction near the figure 7 north edge. Tabo Creek is the north-oriented Missouri River tributary located near the figure 7 west edge. Little Tabo Creek is the northwest and west oriented tributary flowing from the figure 7 center area to join north-oriented Tabo Creek. Cottonwood Creek is the north-northeast oriented tributary flowing from the Confederate Memorial State Park to join west-oriented Little Tabo Creek. Salt Fork is the north-oriented stream originating between Corder and Alma and then turning to flow in an east-northeast direction to the figure 7 east edge south of Waverly. East of the figure 7 map area Salt Fork flows in an east and southeast direction to join the east-oriented Blackwater River, which then joins the Missouri River (which changes direction to flow in southeast direction). Willow Branch is the east-oriented Salt Fork tributary linked by a west to east oriented through valley with west-oriented Little Tabo Creek. Note also north-south oriented through valleys linking the Missouri River valley with the west-oriented Little Tabo Creek valley and with the east-oriented Willow Branch and Salt Fork valleys. The west-oriented Little Tabo Creek valley was eroded by a reversal of east-oriented flood flow moving to what was then the actively eroding Salt Fork valley. At that time the deep Missouri River valley did not yet exist and the Salt Fork valley was eroding northwest and west from what was then the newly eroded east-oriented Blackwater River valley to capture south-oriented flood flow. The north-oriented Salt Fork headwaters valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a south-oriented flood flow channel beheaded by Salt Fork valley headward erosion. Missouri River valley headward erosion next beheaded all south-oriented flood flow channels feeding water to the actively eroding Salt Fork valley. A reversal of flood flow on what had been an east-oriented flood flow route to the actively eroding Salt Fork valley eroded the west-oriented Little Tabo Creek valley. Reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood routes eroded the north-oriented Tabo Creek and Cottonwood Creek valleys.

Detailed map of Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 8 provides a detailed map of the Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide area near Waverly which was seen in less detail in the figure 7 map area above. Waverly is the town located in the figure 8 north center area. The east-oriented Missouri River is located along the figure 8 north edge just north of Waverly. East-northeast oriented Salt Fork is located in the figure 8 southeast corner. An unnamed south-southeast oriented Salt Fork tributary originates as a north-oriented stream near Waverly and then makes a U-turn to flow in a south-southeast direction to join Salt Fork just south of the figure 8 south edge. Note how that south-southeast oriented valley is linked by a through valley with a north-oriented Missouri River tributary valley. The through valley is defined by at least five 10-foot contour lines on each side and provides evidence flood water once flowed south to the Salt Fork valley prior to headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley. Note how the Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide is an asymmetric drainage divide with Missouri River tributaries being shorter than the Salt Fork tributaries. Also note how the drainage divide is crossed by numerous shallow through valleys providing evidence of flood flow channels that existed prior to and during headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Salt Fork valley from what was then the newly eroded Blackwater River valley (south and east of the figure 8 map area) occurred prior to headward erosion of the Missouri River valley. Missouri River valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Salt Fork valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys. Some of these reversed flood flow routes captured yet to beheaded flood flow from west of the actively eroding Missouri River valley head. This captured flood water moved in southeast, east, and northeast directions to the newly eroded Missouri River valley and accounts for the east, southeast, and northeast oriented Missouri River tributary valley segments seen. The flood flow reversal also created the Missouri River-Salt Fork drainage divide.

Salt Fork-Davis Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Salt Fork-Davis Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 7 map area and east of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figures 5 and 7. Higginsville is the town located in the figure 9 northwest quadrant and Confederate Memorial State Park is located north of Higginsville. Concordia is the town located near the south edge in the figure 9 southeast quadrant. Blackburn is the smaller town located near the figure 9 northeast corner and Alma is located west of Blackburn. Coder is located near the figure 9 north center. Davis Creek flows in a northeast direction from the figure 9 southwest corner and then turns to flow in an east and east-southeast direction to the figure 9 east edge (south half). Note the Davis Creek channel has been straightened and the old channel location is shown. Note the multiple southeast oriented tributaries which provide evidence the Davis Creek valley eroded headward to capture multiple southeast and south oriented flood flow channels. The southeast oriented tributary valleys eroded headward along and across southeast- and south-oriented flood flow routes. The South Fork Salt Creek originates as a southeast-oriented stream south of Corder in the figure 9 north center area and then flows in a northeast and east direction before turning to flow in a north direction to the figure 9 north edge. As seen in figure 7 Salt Fork then flows north before turning to flow in an east-northeast direction and eventually turns to flow in a southeast direction to join the east-oriented Blackwater River, the upstream section of which is located south of the figure 9 map area. Note north-south oriented through valleys south of Alma linking the north-oriented Salt Fork valley with valleys of south-oriented Davis Creek tributaries. The map contour interval is ten meters (maps at this scale use meters for the contour intervals, the more detailed maps use feet). The two most obvious north-south oriented through valleys south of Alma are defined by at least two contour lines on each side and provide evidence of two south-oriented flood flow channels to what was once the actively eroding Davis Creek valley prior to headward erosion of the east-northeast and southeast oriented Salt Fork valley (prior to headward erosion of the deeper Missouri River valley). Headward erosion of the what was then a deep Salt Fork valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Salt Fork valley segment. Figure 9a below provides a detailed map of the through valleys south of Alma. The deepest through valley is located in section 5 and the valley floor has an elevation of between 800 and 810 feet. A hill in the figure 9a east center edge area rises to an elevation greater than 850 feet as do hills in section 6 near the figure 9a west edge. Both east and west of the figure 9a map area there are hills with even higher elevations indicating the through valley is even deeper and broader.

Figure 9a: Detailed map of Salt Fork-Davis Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Davis Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide area

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


Figure 10 illustrates the Davis Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide area located south of the figure 9 map area. Concordia is the largest town and is located in the Lafayette County southeast corner. The highway intersection south of Higginsville is marked in the figure 10 northwest corner region. Davis Creek flows in an east and northeast direction from the figure 10 west edge (south of the Higginsville highway intersection) to the figure 10 north edge area and then flows in an east and east-southeast direction to figure10 east edge (north half). The north-northeast oriented tributary joining Davis Creek south of the Higginsville highway interchange is North Blackjack Creek. East of the figure 10 map area Davis Creek joins the Blackwater River, which then flows east to join the Missouri River. The Blackwater River flows in a north-northeast and east direction from the figure 10 south edge (east half) to the Ralph and Martha Perry Memorial State Wildlife Area (in the southeast quadrant) and then in a northeast direction to the figure 10 east edge (south half). East of figure 10 the Blackwater River joins Davis Creek and then flows in an east direction to the southeast oriented Missouri River. Flagstaff Creek is the southeast- and east-oriented Blackwater River tributary near the figure 10 south center edge. North of Flagstaff Creek is southeast-oriented Mulkey Creek. East of Mulkey Creek is southeast-oriented Peavine Creek and the southeast-oriented Blackwater River tributary flowing from near Concordia is Panther Creek. The north-northeast oriented tributary joining Davis Creek near the figure 10 center edge is a north-oriented Mulkey Creek (as opposed to southeast-oriented Mulkey Creek in the figure 10 south center area). Through valleys link southeast-oriented Blackwater River tributary valleys with north-oriented Davis Creek tributary valleys. Figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Davis Creek-Mulkey Creek (the southeast-oriented Mulkey Creek) drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys. South and southeast oriented figure 10a streams east of the north-south oriented highway are Mulkey Creek headwaters and flow to Mulkey Creek and then to the Blackwater River. Davis Creek flows in a northeast direction across the figure 10a northwest corner and North Blackjack Creek is the north-northeast oriented Davis Creek tributary in the figure 10 northwest quadrant. Note how valleys of north and north-northwest oriented North Blackjack Creek and Davis Creek tributaries are linked by through valleys with valleys of south and southeast oriented Mulkey Creek headwaters and tributaries. Northwest-southeast oriented through valleys are easy to spot in section 18, although they are located all along the drainage divide. The through valleys appear to be shallow (defined by only one or two 1-foot contour lines on each side), but following the drainage divide in either direction beyond the figure 10a map area reveals the through valleys are actually much broader and deeper. Again the through valleys provide evidence of south oriented flood flow routes to what was once the actively eroding Blackwater River valley prior to Davis Creek valley headward erosion. Davis Creek valley headward erosion beheaded and reversed south and southeast oriented flood flow routes to erode north-oriented Davis Creek tributary valleys and to create the Davis Creek-Blackwater River drainage divide.

Figure 10a: Detailed map of Davis Creek-(southeast-oriented) Mulkey Creek drainage divide areaUnited States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

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 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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