Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties, Kansas, USA

· Kansas, Smoky Hill River
Authors

Abstract:

The Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties, Kansas was eroded by massive south-oriented glacial melt water floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flowed across Nebraska into Kansas. The east-oriented Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Kansas River and Missouri River valleys. Headward erosion of the east-southeast oriented Big Creek valley from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley beheaded multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys and to create the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of the Smoky Hill River and Big Creek valleys and their tributary valleys and the presence of shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

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), and/or state in which the Missouri River drainage basin is located. 

Introduction:

  • The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, and Ellis 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 Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Big Creek-Smoky Hill 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 Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties and illustrates an area in northwest Kansas. Nebraska is located immediately north of the figure 1 map area and Colorado is located immediately to the west of the figure 1 map area. The Smoky Hill River originates in Colorado and enters the figure 1 map area near the west center edge and then flows in a southeast direction to Russell Springs. From Russell Springs the Smoky Hill River flows in a more easterly direction across the figure 1 south half to Cedar Bluff Reservoir and then to the figure 1 east edge. Big Creek originates just east of Oakley (which is located west of the figure 1 center) and flows in an east-southeast direction to Ellis and Hays before joining the Smoky Hill River near the figure 1 east edge. East of the figure 1 map area the Smoky Hill River flows in a generally east direction to join the Republican River and to form the east-oriented Kansas River, which flows to the Missouri River. Hackberry Creek is an east-southeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributary located between Big Creek and the Smoky Hill River. The Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area discussed here does not include the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area, which is addressed in a separate essay. North of Big Creek is the east-oriented Saline River, which is a Smoky Hill River tributary. North of the Saline River are the South and North Forks of the Solomon River, which join east of the figure 1 map area to form the Solomon River, which is another Smoky Hill River tributary. North and west of the North Fork Solomon River are northeast-oriented Prairie Dog Creek, Sappa Creek, and Beaver Creek, all of which flow to the east-oriented Republican River, which is located in Nebraska north of the figure 1 map area. Further east the Republican River turns to flow in a south-southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River and to form the Kansas River. Walnut Creek in the figure 1 southeast quadrant is an Arkansas River tributary, which is not a Missouri River tributary. White Woman Creek in the figure 1 southwest quadrant is shown as a sinking river, which does not continue as a surface stream downstream from the Scott City and Shallow Water area. The Saline River-Big Creek drainage divide area in Sheridan, Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties describes the region to the north and can be found under Saline River or Smoky Hill River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landforms origins research project essays present significant evidence for massive south-oriented floods, which flowed across Nebraska and into Kansas. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. The Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward across Kansas to capture south-oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys. Headward erosion of the Hackberry Creek valley from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley then beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley and headward erosion of the Big Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River and Hackberry Creek valleys. Headward erosion of east-oriented valleys then continued with the Saline River valley beheading flood flow to the Big Creek valley and the South Fork Solomon River valley beheading flood flow to the Saline River valley.

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Big Creek-Smoky Hill 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 Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties, Kansas. Sheridan, Graham, Rooks, Gove, Trego, and Ellis are Kansas county names and the county boundaries are shown. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction across southern Gove County to Cedar Bluff Reservoir in southern Trego County. From Cedar Bluff Reservoir the Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction and east-northeast direction across southern Ellis County to join east-southeast and east-northeast oriented Big Creek at the figure 2 east edge. Big Creek originates at the figure 2 west edge in the Gove County northwest corner and flows in an east-southeast direction across northern Gove County and into northern Trego County with the highway and railroad being located just north of Big Creek. In eastern Trego County Big Creek makes a short east-northeast jog to flow to Ellis in western Ellis County. From Ellis Big Creek flows in an east-southeast and southeast direction to the Ellis County southeast quadrant and then makes an east-northeast jog before joining the Smoky Hill River near the figure 2 east edge. Hackberry Creek is an east-southeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributary located between Big Creek and the Smoky Hill River in Gove County and western Trego County. Hackberry Creek is formed west of the town of Gove in central Gove County where the east-southeast oriented North Branch, Middle Branch, and South Branch join to form east-southeast oriented Hackberry Creek. Hackberry Creek flows in an east-southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River in western Trego County. This knol only addresses drainage divide evidence between Big Creek and Hackberry Creek in Gove and western Trego Counties. Note the numerous south-southeast and southeast oriented Smoky Hill River and Hackberry Creek tributaries in the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area. Figure 2 shows few Big Creek tributaries from the south. The south-southeast and southeast oriented Smoky Hill River and Hackberry Creek tributaries provide evidence headward erosion the Smoky Hill River valley captured multiple south-southeast and/or southeast oriented flood flow channels. Headward erosion of the Big Creek valley then beheaded flood flow to what were then  actively eroding south-southeast and southeast oriented Smoky Hill River and Hackberry Creek tributary valleys. The east-oriented Saline River is located near the Sheridan County south boundary and the Trego and Ellis County north boundaries. Saline River valley headward erosion subsequently captured south-oriented flood flow to what was then the newly eroded Big Creek valley. Probably all valleys were eroding headward at the same time, with southern valleys eroding headward slightly in advance of northern valleys.

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in southeast Ellis County

Figure 3: Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in southeast Ellis County. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 3 illustrates the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in southeast Ellis County. Munjor is the town located in the figure 3 northwest quadrant and Pfeifer is the town located in the figure 3 south center edge area. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction near the figure 3 south margin. Big Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 3 northwest corner to the figure 3 center and then turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to the figure 3 east edge. Big Creek joins the east-oriented Smoky Hill River a short distance east of the figure 3 map area. Illustrations in this essay follow the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area westward from this figure 3 map area. Note south-oriented Smoky Hill tributaries from the north and north-oriented Big Creek tributaries from the south. Note how the north-oriented Big Creek tributaries are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries. The figure 3 map is not detailed enough to show many of the through valleys, although one can be noted northeast of the word FREEDOM in the figure 3 southeast quadrant and another can be noted northwest of Pfeifer. Figure 4 below provides a more detailed map of the drainage divide north of Pfeifer to better illustrate the through valleys. The north-oriented Big Creek tributaries, the south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries, and the shallow north-south oriented through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that eroded headward from what was once the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley, which had eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Missouri River and Kansas River valleys to capture immense south-oriented glacial melt water floods moving across Kansas. At the time the Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward across the figure 3 map area the Big Creek valley did not exist, nor did other deep Missouri River tributary valleys north of the figure 3 map area exist. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley followed shortly after Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion and beheaded south-oriented flow channels to what were actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. South-oriented flood flow channels were beheaded one channel at a time from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of  beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Big Creek valley and to erode north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys. Erosion of north-oriented tributary valleys was aided by captured flood flow from yet to be beheaded flood flow channels further to the west. The reversal of flood flow caused by Big Creek valley headward erosion created the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Detailed map of Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of Pfiefer, Kansas

Figure 4: Detailed map of Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of Pfiefer, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of Pfeifer, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. The Smoky Hill River meanders in an east direction across the figure 4 south margin area. Big Creek flows in a southeast direction into the figure 4 northwest quadrant north edge area and then turns to flow in a north direction to the figure 4 north edge. North and east of figure 4 as seen in figure 3 above Big Creek flows in an east-northeast direction. Pfeifer is the town located near the figure 4 south center edge. Note the south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary north of Pfeifer. Also note how that south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary is linked by a shallow north-south through valley with a north-oriented Big Creek tributary. Other shallow north-south oriented through valleys can be seen to the east and west of the through valley north of Pfeifer. The figure 4 map contour interval is ten feet and the through valley north of Pfeifer has been eroded approximately 30 feet into the drainage divide. A somewhat deeper through valley is located in the figure 4 northeast corner area, although figure 4 does not include that valley’s east margin. Other identifiable figure 4 through valleys are shallower with most appearing to be in the 10-20 foot deep range. Multiple through valleys crossing the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once crossed the drainage divide. The flood flow channels were moving flood waters to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys, which were eroding north from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley wall. When the through valleys were eroded the Big Creek valley did not exist. Flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley captured the south-oriented flood flow and beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of newly beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys and to create the Big Creek-Smoky Hill drainage divide.

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Hays, Kansas

Figure 5: Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Hays, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 illustrates the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Hays, Kansas and west and slightly north of the figure 3 map area. Hays is the city located in the figure 5 northeast corner. Big Creek flows in a southeast direction across the figure 5 northeast corner and is located along the Hays city southwest margin. A Smoky Hill River segment is located in the figure 5 southwest corner and the Smoky Hill River is flowing an east-southeast direction.  Lookout Hollow is a major southeast-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary in the figure 5 east half. Note how north of the oil field in the Lookout Hollow headwaters area a south-oriented Lookout Hollow tributary is linked by a through valley with an east-southeast and north oriented Big Creek tributary. Also note the major south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary west of the Lookout Hollow headwaters area is linked by though valleys in the figure 5 northwest quadrant with north-oriented Big Creek tributaries. Figure 5a below provides a detailed map of the oil field region seen in the figure 5 northwest quadrant to better illustrate the shallow north-south oriented through valleys. Note the north-south oriented through valleys in sections 36, 1, 2, and 3 in figure 5a. The map contour interval again is ten feet and the two deepest through valleys are at least 50 feet deep, although several through valleys are defined by a single contour line on either side. Again the north-south through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of drainage that existed prior to headward erosion of the present day Big Creek valley. The multiple through valleys provide evidence of multiple flood flow channels, such as might be found in a flood formed anastomosing channel complex. At the time the through valleys were eroded flood waters were flowing south to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley north of the figure 5a map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow to the newly eroded Big Creek valley, to erode north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys, and to create the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Figure 5a: Detailed map of a Big Creek-Smoky Hill drainage divide area seen in less detail in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Ellis, Kansas

Figure 6: Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Ellis, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 6 illustrates the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Ellis and west of the figure 5 map area. Ellis, Kansas is the town located in the figure 6 northeast corner. Big Creek meanders in an east direction near the figure 6 north margin. The dam and reservoir in the figure 6 southwest quadrant is located in the Smoky Hill River valley and the reservoir is named Cedar Bluff Reservoir. Note south and south-southeast oriented Smoky Hill tributaries and much shorter north-oriented Big Creek tributaries. Also note multiple shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir dam to better illustrate the shallow north-south oriented through valleys. Big Creek can be seen near the figure 6a north center edge. North-oriented drainage in the figure 6a map area flows to Big Creek and south-oriented drainage flows to the Smoky Hill River. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing the figure 6a Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide in sections 33, 34, 35, and 36. The map contour interval is ten feet and the deepest through valley floor shown is 40-50 feet lower than heights of the surrounding hills. Most of the through valleys appear to be shallower. The through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels, which existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley. When the deep Big Creek valley did erode headward across the region north of the figure 6a map area it beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from the east to the west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction and with the aid of flood water captured from yet to beheaded flood flow channels further to the west eroded north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys. The reversal of flood flow caused by Big Creek valley headward erosion also created the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Figure 6a: Detailed map of Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir dam.  United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 


Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area near Trego Center, Kansas

Figure 7: Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area near Trego Center, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 7 illustrates the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west and slightly north of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Trego Center is a small town or place-name on the major north-south oriented highway. Big Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 7 north edge (near the major north-south oriented highway) to the figure 7 east center edge area where it makes a northeast-oriented jog. Southeast and south oriented drainage in the figure 7 south half flows to the Smoky Hill River, which is located south of the figure 7 map area. Again note south and southeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with north-oriented Big Creek tributaries. The figure 7 drainage history began with massive south oriented flood flow moving across the entire figure 7 map area. Flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest present day figure 7 elevations. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley south of the figure 7 captured the flood waters and lowered the regional base level. Deep south and southeast oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley and south oriented flood flow channels eroded headward from those actively eroding Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley then captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters more efficiently to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley east of the figure 3 map area. Big Creek valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding south- and southeast-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Big Creek valley, to erode north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys, and to create the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Trego Center

Figure 8: Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Trego Center. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 8 illustrates the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area west of Trego Center and the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Big Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 8 north margin. Southeast-oriented Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 8 southwest corner and joins the east-oriented Smoky Hill River a short distance south of the figure 8 map area. Downer Creek is the labeled southeast and south oriented Smoky Hill River tributary originating in COLLYER township and flowing to the figure 8 south edge. East Branch is the south-southeast and south oriented Downer Creek tributary located in COLLYER township. Note other south oriented Smoky Hill and Hackberry Creek tributaries both east and west of Downer Creek. Again note how south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys, including the Downer Creek valley, are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with shorter north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys. Figure 9 below provides a detailed map of the Big Creek-Downer Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the north-south oriented through valleys. The figure 8 drainage history is similar to drainage histories determined for previous figures. Prior to headward erosion of the present day deep figure 8 valleys south-oriented flood waters flowed across the entire figure 8 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 8 elevations today. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley (south of the figure 8 map area) and its deep southeast-oriented Hackberry Creek valley lowered the regional base level. South-oriented tributary valleys then began to erode headward from the newly eroded and deep Hackberry Creek and Smoky Hill River valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River and Hackberry Creek tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Big Creek valley. Reversed flood flow eroded the north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys and created the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River (and Hackberry Creek) drainage divide.

Detailed map of Big Creek-Downer Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 provides a detailed map of the Big Creek-Downer Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 8 above. North-oriented streams near the figure 9 north edge flow to east-oriented Big Creek. Downer Creek originates in the figure 9 center region and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 9 south edge. Other south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 9 south edge are Smoky Hill River tributaries. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys in sections 36 and 31 linking north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Downer Creek tributary valleys. Other shallow north-south oriented through valleys link other figure 9 north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The through valleys are shallow and are generally less than 30 feet deep (the map contour interval is ten feet). However, the through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once moved south-oriented flood waters across the present day Big Creek-Downer Creek (and Smoky Hill River) drainage divide. At the time flood waters eroded the through valleys the deep Big Creek valley north of the figure 9 map area did not exist and flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide. Flood waters were flowing to what was then the actively eroding Downer Creek valley and also to what were then other actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of newly beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction and with the aid of captured yet to be beheaded flood flow from flood flow channels further to the west eroded north-oriented Big Creek tributary valleys. The reversal of flood flow was also responsible for creating the Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Big Creek-Hackberry Creek drainage divide area north and east of Gove, Kansas

Figure 10: Big Creek-Hackberry Creek drainage divide area north and east of Gove, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 10 illustrates the Big Creek-Hackberry Creek drainage divide area north and east of Gove, Kansas and west of the figure 8 map area. There is a gap of approximately six miles between the figure 8 and figure 10 map areas. Gove or Gove City is located in the figure 10 southwest quadrant. Hackberry Creek flows in an east-southeast direction across the figure 10 southwest corner and is located just south of Gove City. Big Creek flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 10 northwest corner area to the figure 10 east edge (north half). East Spring Creek is an east-southeast and south oriented Hackberry Creek tributary flowing from the figure 10 west edge (north half) to join Hackberry Creek just south of the figure 10 south center edge. Note south and south-southeast oriented East Spring Creek and Hackberry Creek tributaries. Also note Big Creek has few north-oriented tributaries. Further note how figure 10 upland surfaces appear to be a southeast-oriented erosion surface into which deep valleys have been eroded. In addition note shallow through valleys linking south-southeast oriented East Spring Creek tributary valleys with the Big Creek valley and also linking south-southeast oriented Hackberry Creek tributary valleys with the East Spring Creek valley. Figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Big Creek-East Spring Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys. Big Creek is located in the figure 10a north half and East Spring Creek is located near the south margin in the figure 10a southwest quadrant. South-southeast oriented streams in the figure 10a southeast quadrant are East Spring Creek tributaries. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the south-southeast oriented East Spring Creek tributary valleys with the Big Creek valley. The figure 10a map contour interval is ten feet with some supplement contour lines at five foot intervals. Figure 10a north-south oriented through valleys are shallow and are generally less than 20 feet deep with most even shallower. The through valleys however do provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels. The southeast-oriented erosion surface into which the deeper valleys have been eroded also provides evidence of a flood formed erosion surface. Figure 10 drainage history is similar to drainage histories for previous figures. Headward erosion of the Hackberry Creek valley first captured south-oriented flood flow moving across the entire figure 10 map area. South-southeast oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded and deep Hackberry Creek valley. Headward erosion of the east-southeast oriented East Spring Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to actively eroding Hackberry Creek tributary valleys. South-southeast oriented East Spring Creek tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded East Spring Creek valley. Headward erosion of the deep Big Creek valley then beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding East Spring Creek tributary valleys.

Figure 10a: Detailed map of Big Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area to illustrate shallow north-south oriented through valleys. United 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 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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