Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Logan and Gove Counties, Kansas, USA

· Kansas, Smoky Hill River
Authors

Abstract:

The Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide in Logan and Gove Counties, Kansas was crossed by immense south and east oriented floods. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flowed southward across Nebraska and into Kansas. The Smoky Hill River valley was the southernmost of several deep east-oriented valleys, which eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys to capture south-oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to the Mississippi River valley. The southeast oriented Hackberry Creek valley and major tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley and beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Saline River-South Fork Saline River valley north of the newly eroded Hackberry Creek valley then beheaded all south-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Hackberry Creek valley system while headward erosion of the North Fork Smoky Hill River valley and its tributary valleys beheaded all east-oriented flood flow to the actively eroding Hackberry Creek valley system. The South Fork Saline River valley, Hackberry Creek valley system, and North Fork Smoky Hill River valley all diverge from the same general region and converge further east in the Smoky Hill River valley. This divergence and convergence of independent valleys describes channels in what was once a gigantic east-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which eroded headward across Kansas to capture south-oriented flood flow. Channels or valleys eroded headward in sequence from south to north. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of present day valleys and numerous north-south oriented through valleys crossing present day 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), 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 Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Logan and Gove 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 Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area landform origins in Logan and Gove Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Hackberry 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 Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Logan and Gove Counties, Kansas location map and illustrates an area in northwest Kansas. Nebraska is the state north of Kansas and Colorado is the state west of Kansas and Nebraska. The North Fork Smoky Hill River originates in Colorado near the figure 1 west center edge and flows in an east-northeast and southeast direction to join the east-oriented Smoky Hill River near Russell Springs, Kansas. The Smoky Hill River originates near Cheyenne Wells in eastern Colorado and flows in an east direction to Russell Springs, Cedar Bluff Reservoir, and Kanopolis Lake (along the figure 1 east edge). East of the figure 1 map area the Smoky Hill River continues to flow in an east direction and is joined by the Saline and Solomon Rivers before combining with the Republican River to form the east-oriented Kansas River, which joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, Missouri. Hackberry Creek is an east-southeast oriented tributary joining the Smoky Hill River a short distance west of Cedar Bluff Reservoir. Hackberry Creek originates near Winona, Kansas near the North Fork Smoky Hill River. North of the Hackberry Creek headwaters area are headwaters of the east-oriented Saline River, of the east-northeast oriented South Fork Solomon River, and of northeast-oriented Prairie Dog and Sappa Creeks, which are Republican River tributaries. North and west of the North Fork Smoky Hill River headwaters are northeast-oriented tributaries to the northeast-oriented South Fork Republican River. The Republican River flows in an east direction just north of the Nebraska state line and east of the figure 1 turns to flow in a south-southeast, east, and southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River and form the Kansas River. Figure 1 illustrates how divergent Kansas River tributaries originate in the same general region of western Kansas and eastern Colorado. These tributaries then follow independent and different routes only to eventually converge in eastern Kansas. The divergence and convergence of the Smoky Hill, Saline, Solomon, and Republican Rivers and tributaries suggest their valleys were eroded as channels in what was once an immense east-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Anastomosing channel complexes are flood formed features and the Republican, Solomon, Saline, and Smoky Hill River drainage basins provide evidence flood waters flowed across much of Kansas. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays present a strong case for immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across Nebraska and into Kansas. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting ice sheet. Essays describing Republican, Solomon, Saline, and Smoky Hill River drainage divides have presented evidence the Smoky Hill River, Saline River, Solomon River, and Republican River valleys eroded headward across the figure 1 map area in sequence to capture the south-oriented flood flow. Headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley captured the flood flow first. Saline River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Solomon River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Saline River valley and Republican River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Solomon River valley.

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

Figure 2: Hackberry 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 Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Logan and Gove Counties. Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Wallace, Logan, and Gove are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction across Wallace County to Russell Springs in central Logan County. The North Fork Smoky Hill River flows across southern Sherman County to the Logan County northwest corner and then in a southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River west of Russell Springs in Logan County. From Russell Springs the Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction to the Gove County southwest corner and then flows across southern Gove County to join east-southeast oriented Hackberry Creek near the figure 2 east edge. The Middle Branch Hackberry Creek originates north and west of Winona in northern Logan County and flows in an east-southeast direction across the Logan County northeast corner to join the somewhat shorter, but also east-southeast oriented North Branch and South Branch west of Gove in Gove County. Hackberry Creek then flows in an east-southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River just east of Gove County near the figure 2 east edge. North of Hackberry Creek is east-southeast oriented Big Creek, which is another Smoky Hill River tributary and which originates in the Gove County northwest corner and which flows in an east-southeast direction across northern Gove County to the figure 2 east edge. North of Big Creek and the Hackberry Creek headwaters in Logan County is the east-oriented South Fork Saline River, which flows across southern Thomas and Sheridan Counties. North of the South Fork Saline River in Thomas County are east-northeast Solomon River tributaries and northeast-oriented Republican River tributaries. Figure 2 drainage history determinable from topographic maps describes headward erosion of east, east-northeast, and northeast oriented valleys and their tributary valleys across the figure 2 map area to capture south or south-southeast oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to what were then the newly eroded Kansas River and Missouri River valleys. Headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley occurred first, with headward erosion of more northern valleys occurring in sequence from south to north. South and south-southeast tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded east-oriented valleys until headward erosion of the east-oriented valley to north beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to the actively eroding south or south-southeast oriented tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Hackberry Creek valley, for example beheaded south-oriented flood flow to what was then the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Big Creek valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow to newly eroded Hackberry Creek valley and South Fork Saline River valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the Big Creek valley and Hackberry Creek valley (west of the Big Creek valley head).

East end of the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area

Figure 3: East end of the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 3 illustrates the east end of the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill drainage divide area. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 3 south center edge area to the figure 3 east edge (south half). Hackberry Creek flows in an east-southeast, southeast, and south direction from the figure 3 northwest corner to join the Smoky Hill River near the figure 3 east edge. Note south and south-southeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries. Those tributaries have eroded deep valleys into what appears to be a south-oriented erosion surface sloping towards the Smoky Hill River valley. Also note the shorter north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributaries. In addition note how the north-oriented tributary valleys are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The through valleys are best seen on more detailed topographic maps and figure 4 below provides a detailed map of the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area near Castle Rock (near the figure 3 center). The through valleys, the south-oriented Smoky Hill River and north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributaries, and south-sloping erosion surface all provide evidence the Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward into and across the figure 3 map region to capture immense south-oriented floods. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 3 elevations today. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley significantly lowered the regional base level. South-oriented flood flow moving into the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley eroded the south-oriented erosion surface. The deep south and south-southeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys eroded headward along south-oriented flood flow channels and the through valleys represent locations of those flood flow channels. Headward erosion of the deep Hackberry Creek valley then captured the south-oriented flood flow and beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Hackberry Creek valley. Because flood flow channels were anastomosing or interconnected and because flood flow channels were beheaded one at a time from east to west, reversed flow in a newly beheaded flood flow channel could capture yet to beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west. Such captures of yet to be beheaded flood flow provided water volumes needed to erode north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area near Castle Rock

Figure 4: Detailed map of Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area near Castle Rock. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide near Castle Rock, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Castle Rock is located in the figure 4 east center area. East-southeast oriented Hackberry Creek can be seen in the figure 4 northeast corner area. North-oriented streams in the figure 4 north half are Hackberry Creek tributaries. South-oriented streams in the figure 4 south half are Smoky Hill River tributaries. Note the deep north-south oriented through valleys in sections 11 and 9 linking north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The map contour interval is 10 feet and the floor of the section 11 through valley is approximately 100 feet lower than tops of adjacent hills. The floor of the section 9 through valley is somewhat shallower and is only about 70 feet lower than tops of adjacent hills. Also note much shallower through valleys such as the through valley crossing the hill in section 5 (near the figure 4 west edge). The higher level and shallower through valleys provide evidence flood waters once flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 4 elevations today. At the time flood waters eroded the deeper through valleys flood flow was moving to what was then the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley and to actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys eroding headward from that new deep east-oriented valley. When flood waters eroded the north-south oriented through valleys the deep Hackberry Creek valley did not exist. The deeper through valleys provide evidence of the amount of erosion the south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley accomplished prior to headward erosion of the deep Hackberry Creek valley. Headward erosion of the deep Hackberry Creek valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow moving water to the actively eroding south-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 Hackberry Creek valley. With the aid of captured yet to beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west the reversed flood flow eroded the north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributary valleys and created the Hackberry Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide.

Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide area near Gove City

Figure 5: Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide area near Gove City. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 illustrates the Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide area near Gove City, Kansas and west and slightly north of the figure 3 map area. Gove City is the town located near the figure 5 north edge. Hackberry Creek flows in an east direction from the figure 5 northwest corner to Gove City. From Gove City Hackberry Creek flows in an east-southeast direction to the figure 5 east edge. Indian Creek originates in the figure 5 west center area and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 5 south edge (east half). South of figure 5 Indian Creek flows to the east-oriented Smoky Hill River, which is located south of the figure 5 map area. Other south and south-southeast oriented streams flowing to the figure 5 south edge are also Smoky Hill River tributaries. A number of north-south oriented through valleys can be seen on figure 5 linking the Hackberry Creek valley with the south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The deepest such north-south oriented through valley is located in the figure 5 east center edge area and links the Hackberry Creek valley with a the valley of a south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary located in the figure 5 southeast corner area. Other through valleys are much shallower and are better seen on more detailed topographic maps. Figure 5a below provides a detailed topographic map of the Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide area south of Gove City to better illustrate the shallow north-south oriented through valleys. East-southeast oriented Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 5a north half and the east-southeast oriented stream in the figure 5a south half is an Indian Creek tributary. Note the shallow north-south oriented through valleys in figure 5a sections 13, 18, 17, 16, and 21. The figure 5a map contour interval is ten feet, and the shallow north-south oriented through valleys are generally defined by fewer than four contour lines on each side. However, 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 Hackberry Creek valley. At the time the flood flow channels were eroded the Hackberry Creek valley did not exist and the flood waters were flowing to what was then the actively eroding Indian Creek tributary valley, which had eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Indian Creek and Smoky Hill River valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Hackberry Creek valley then 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 flow north to the newly eroded Hackberry Creek valley, to erode short north-oriented Hackberry Creek tributary valleys, and to create the Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide.

Figure 5a: Detailed topographic map of Hackberry Creek-Indian Creek drainage divide area south of Gove City. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

North Branch Hackberry Creek-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: North Branch Hackberry Creek-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 illustrates the North Branch Hackberry Creek-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area north and west of the figure 5 map area and the figure 5 northwest corner overlaps with the figure 6 southeast corner. The North Branch Hackberry Creek flows from the figure 6 northwest corner to join the east-southeast oriented Middle Branch Hackberry Creek near the figure 6 southeast corner. The Middle Branch Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 6 south half and flows from the figure 6 west edge to join the southeast-oriented North Branch Hackberry Creek near the figure 6 southeast corner. The South Branch Hackberry Creek can be seen in the figure 6 southwest corner. East-southeast oriented Big Creek is located near the figure 6 north edge in the northeast quadrant. The deep Hackberry Creek branch valleys and their deep tributary valleys are eroded into what appears to be a southeast-sloping erosion surface. The erosion surface was eroded by immense volumes of water moving in a south and east direction. Note numerous south, south-southeast, and southeast oriented North Branch, Middle Branch, and South Branch Hackberry Creek tributaries. Figure 6 drainage history determinable from the map evidence suggests prior to headward erosion of the Hackberry Creek branch valleys (and Big Creek valley) flood waters flowed in a south or southeast direction across the entire figure 6 map area. The deep Hackberry Creek branch valleys then eroded headward into the figure 6 in sequence with South Branch valley headward erosion slightly in advance of Middle Branch valley headward erosion, which was slightly in advance of North Branch valley headward erosion, which was slightly in advance of the Big Creek valley headward erosion. As each valley eroded headward across the region flood waters began to erode south, south-southeast, and southeast oriented tributary valleys headward until headward erosion of the next deep Hackberry Creek branch valley (or Big Creek valley) beheaded the south- or southeast-oriented flood flow routes to those actively eroding tributary valleys. Evidence of the south- and southeast-oriented flood flow channels can be found in the form of shallow through valleys crossing present day drainage divides. Through valleys are best seen on more detailed topographic maps. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the North Branch Hackberry Creek-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide to better illustrate the shallow through valleys. Southeast-oriented North Branch Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 6a north half and the east-southeast oriented Middle Branch can be seen in the figure 6a southwest corner. The figure 6a contour interval is ten feet. Through valleys crossing the drainage divide are shallow and defined in most cases by a single contour line, but they exist in sections 7, 8, 17, 16 and 23.

Figure 6a: Detailed map of North Branch Hackberry Creek-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area to illustrate shallow through valleys crossing drainage divide. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Middle Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Middle Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 7 illustrates the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. The east-southeast oriented Middle Branch Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 7 northeast corner. The east-southeast oriented South Branch Hackberry is located in the figure 7 north half (south of the Middle Branch) and flows from the figure 7 west edge to the figure 7 east edge (north half). Plum Creek flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 7 west center edge to the figure 7 south edge (near the figure 7 southeast corner). South and east of figure 7 Plum Creek flows to the east-oriented Smoky Hill River. Again note how the deep Middle Branch Hackberry Creek, South Branch Hackberry Creek, and Plum Creek valleys have been eroded into what appears to be a southeast-sloping erosion surface. Also note the southeast, south-southeast, and south oriented South Branch Hackberry Creek and Plum Creek tributaries. Shallow through valleys cross the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek-South Branch Hackberry Creek and South Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divides. The through valleys are again shallow and are best seen on more detailed topographic maps. Figure 7a below provides a detailed map of the South Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide area north of the figure 7 center area to better illustrate the through valleys. East-southeast oriented South Branch Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 7a north half. South-oriented streams flowing to the figure 7a south edge are Plum Creek tributaries. Note in figure 7a shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing the South Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide in sections 11, 18, and 17. The figure 7a contour interval is ten feet and then deeper through valleys are defined by three contours lines on each side. The through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep South Branch Hackberry Creek valley (also prior to headward of the Middle Branch and North Branch valleys as well). Flood waters were flowing on the upland southeast-sloping topographic surface to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Plum Creek tributary valleys. The Plum Creek tributary valleys had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Plum Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Headward erosion of the deep South Branch Hackberry Creek valley beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow to the actively eroding Plum Creek tributary valleys.

Figure 7a: Detailed map of through valleys crossing South Branch Hackberry Creek-Plum Creek drainage divide north of the figure 7 center area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Plum Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 illustrates the Plum Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area south of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Plum Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 8 north edge (west half) to the figure 8 east edge (south half). The Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction in the figure 8 south half from the west edge to the figure 8 south edge (east half). An unnamed southeast and east oriented Plum Creek tributary flows across the figure 8 north center area. Again the deep Smoky Hill River and Plum Creek valleys and their tributary valleys appear to be eroded into what appears to be a southeast sloping erosion surface. Smoky Hill River tributaries from the north are generally south-oriented with some being oriented in a south-southwest direction. Through valleys link south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys with the unnamed east-oriented Plum Creek tributary valley and also cross the Plum Creek drainage divide with that unnamed Plum Creek tributary. Figure 8a below provides a detailed map of the Plum Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area north of the Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark to better illustrate the through valleys. Plum Creek flows in a southeast direction across the figure 8a northeast quadrant. An unnamed southeast and east oriented Plum Creek tributary originates in section 4 and flows to sections 10, 11, 12, and 7 before reaching the figure 8a east edge. South and south-southwest oriented flowing to the figure 8a south and west edges are Smoky Hill River tributaries. Note through valleys crossing the drainage divide between Plum Creek and its unnamed east-oriented tributary in sections 3, 2, and 1. Also note through valleys crossing the drainage divide between the unnamed east-oriented Plum Creek tributary in sections 9, 10, 14, 13, and 18. Further in the figure 8a northwest quadrant note through valleys crossing the Plum Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide in sections 5 and 6. The through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Plum Creek valley (and other deep valleys north of the figure 8 map area). Flood waters were moving to what were at that time actively eroding south-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep unnamed east-oriented Plum Creek valley beheaded flood flow channels in the eastern two-thirds of the figure 8a map area. Headward erosion of the deep Plum Creek valley next beheaded the then deeper flood flow channels to the newly eroded unnamed east-oriented Plum Creek tributary valley and then beheaded south-oriented flood flow to actively eroding Smoky Hill River tributary valleys.


Figure 8a: Detailed map of through valleys crossing Plum Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide north of Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Saline River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area

Figure 9: Saline River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 9 illustrates the South Fork Saline River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area located west and somewhat north of the figure 6 map area. Oakley, Kansas is the town located near the figure 9 northeast corner. Monument is the smaller town located northwest of the figure 9 center area. The South Fork Saline River flows along the figure 9 north edge. The North Branch Hackberry Creek originates north of Monument and flows in an east-southeast direction to the figure 9 east edge.The Middle Branch Hackberry Creek is located in the figure 9 south half and flows in an east and southeast direction from the figure 9 west edge to the figure 9 southeast corner area. Drainage in the figure 9 southwest corner flows to the South Branch Hackberry Creek. Note how the South Fork Saline River, North Branch Hackberry Creek, and Middle Branch Hackberry Creek valleys and their tributary valleys are eroded into what appears to be a southeast-sloping erosion surface. Also note how these valleys are much shallower in the figure 9 map area than they are further downstream as shown in the previous figures. Evidence of through valleys crossing the major drainage divides is absent in the figure 9 map area suggesting flood waters that flowed across this figure 9 map area were moving as sheet flow and did not erode channels of any significant depth into the underlying surface. Figure 9 drainage history is similar to the drainage histories determined for the previous figures. South or southeast oriented flood flow moved across the entire figure 9 map area. Headward erosion of the South Branch Hackberry Creek valley first captured the flood flow. Headward erosion of the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek next captured the flood flow and headward erosion of the North Branch Hackberry Creek valley was capturing the flood flow until headward erosion of the South Fork Saline River valley beheaded all flood flow routes to what had been the actively eroding North Branch Hackberry Creek valley. What makes this beheading especially interesting is water in the South Fork Saline River and in the North Branch Hackberry Creek valleys eventually ends up in the same place (the Smoky Hill River in eastern Kansas), however between the figure 9 map area and the eastern Kansas confluence of Solomon River with the Smoky Hill River water in the two valleys travels along divergent and independent routes. What we are seeing in this figure 9 map area is evidence for two diverging channels in what was once a large-scale east-oriented anastomosing channel complex that moved flood water across much of Kansas. An anastomosing channel complex of the magnitude this evidence illustrates (see figure 1) could only be produced by an immense flood, which had been captured by headward erosion of the east-oriented anastomosing channels (in sequence from south to north) and then diverted eastward to what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys.

North Fork Smoky Hill River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: North Fork Smoky Hill River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 10 illustrates the North Fork Smoky Hill River-Middle Branch Hackberry Creek drainage divide area west of the figure 9 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 9. Winona is the town located in the figure 10 south center area and Page City is the town the figure 10 east center area. The North Fork Smoky Hill River flows in a south-southeast direction across the figure 10 southwest corner. Sand Creek is the south-southeast and south oriented North Fork Smoky Hill River tributary flowing from the figure 10 northwest corner area. The South Fork Saline River is located in the figure 10 northeast quadrant and flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 10 north edge. North of the figure 10 map area and west of where the South Fork Saline River enters the figure 10 map area are southeast and east oriented South Fork Saline River headwaters. In other words the South Fork Saline River originates a short distance north of the figure 10 map area. The Middle Branch Hackberry Creek is the east-southeast and east oriented stream flowing between Winona and Page City to the figure 10 east edge. South and southeast oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 south edge are North Fork Smoky Hill River tributaries. Again note what appears in the figure 10 map area to be an east-oriented slope, which may be an erosion surface. Two large depressions near the figure 10 northwest corner and several smaller depressions elsewhere in the figure 10 map area suggest the possibility of karst topography of some type. Note how headward erosion of the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek valley has beheaded what were probably south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes to North Fork Smoky Hill River tributary valleys east of Winona. Also note how headward erosion of the South Fork Saline River and its east-oriented tributary in the figure 10 north center area would have beheaded any south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes to the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek valley. Also note how headward erosion of the North Fork Smoky Hill River-Sand Creek valley has beheaded any east-oriented flood flow routes to the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek valley. Further, note how the North Fork Smoky Hill River is much deeper than the Middle Branch Hackberry Creek and the South Fork Saline River valleys. As is true in all anastomosing channel complexes some channels are able to erode deeper valleys than others. The North Fork Smoky Hill River valley was able to erode a deeper valley and consequently was able to capture east-oriented flood flow moving to the what was at one time the actively eroding Middle Branch Hackberry Creek valley head. Figure 10 evidence further supports the interpretation these valleys originated as channels in a gigantic east-oriented anastomosing channel complex eroded across much of the present day state of Kansas.

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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