Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas, USA

· Kansas, Smoky Hill River
Authors

Abstract:

The Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south-oriented floods and by immense east and southeast oriented floods, which also probably deposited significant flood transported sediments. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and the south-oriented flood waters used a fundamentally different route to reach western Kansas than used by the southeast and east oriented floods. Topographic map evidence suggests flood waters originally flowed to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Smoky Hill River valley from what were then newly eroded Kansas River and Missouri River valleys beheaded a south-oriented flood flow channel causing a reversal of flood flow, which captured southeast and east oriented flood flow eroding the southeast and east-oriented Ladder Creek valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of present day valleys, through valleys crossing present day drainage divides, and depressions located along what are interpreted to be partially filled former flood flow channels.

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 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 Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott 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 Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek 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 Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas location map and illustrates an area in northwest Kansas with a strip of southern Nebraska to the north and a strip of eastern Colorado to the west. The Arkansas River is located in the figure 1 south half and flows from the figure 1 west edge (south half) to Garden City and Dodge City, Kansas before turning to flow in a northeast direction to Great Bend. At Great Bend the Arkansas River turns to flow in a southeast direction to eventually join the Mississippi River. The Arkansas River is the major Mississippi River tributary drainage basin located south of the Missouri River drainage basin. The Smoky Hill River originates near Cheyenne Wells in eastern Colorado (figure 1 west center area) and flows to Sharon Springs, Wallace, and Russell Springs, Kansas before continuing to Cedar Bluff Reservoir and the figure 1 east center edge. East of figure 1 the Smoky Hill River joins with the Republican River to form the east-oriented Kansas River, which flows to the east-southeast oriented Missouri River. The Missouri River is the major Mississippi River tributary drainage basin located north of the Arkansas River drainage basin. Ladder Creek is a Smoky Hill River tributary, which originates in eastern Colorado south of the Smoky Hill River headwaters (near Cheyenne Wells) and then flows in an east direction into Kansas. Once in Kansas Ladder Creek flows in a southeast and east direction before turning to flow north to join the Smoky Hill River downstream from Russell Springs, Kansas. White Woman Creek is located south of Ladder Creek and also originates near Cheyenne Wells in eastern Colorado. White Woman Creek then flows in a southeast and east direction, roughly parallel to Ladder Creek, and finally turns to flow in a northeast direction to Scott City. Near Scott City White Woman Creek ends as a surface stream. East of Scott City are headwaters of east-oriented Walnut Creek, which joins the Arkansas River near Great Bend, Kansas. The Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties discussed in this essay includes all Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide areas in Kansas. The Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties and the North Fork Smoky Hill River-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Sherman, Wallace, and Logan Counties essays describe regions located north of the drainage divide discussed here and can be found under Smoky Hill River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays collectively provide strong evidence Missouri River tributary valleys eroded headward in sequence (from south to north) to capture immense south-oriented floods derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. While not discussed in other essays the Arkansas River valley eroded headward prior to headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley. The White Woman Creek valley and the southeast and east oriented Ladder Creek valley segments were initially eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion then beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley and its actively eroding tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The north oriented Ladder Creek valley segment was eroded by such reversed flood flow and captured the southeast and east oriented upstream Ladder Creek valley.

Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area detailed location map. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 2 provides a more detailed location map for the Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas. Wallace, Logan, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The Kansas-Colorado state line is located along the Greeley and Wallace County west boundaries. Ladder Creek flows in an east direction from the figure 2 west edge into southern Wallace County and then turns to flow in a southeast direction across the Greeley County northeast corner and into northwest Wichita County. In northwest Wichita County Ladder Creek turns to flow in an east direction into northern Scott County where it turns to flow in a north direction to join the east oriented Smoky Hill River near Elkader in southeast Logan County.  Middle Ladder Creek is a southeast oriented South Ladder Creek tributary in southern Wallace County and South Ladder Creek flows in an east direction from Colorado near the Greeley County north edge to join Ladder Creek near the Greeley County northeast corner. White Woman Creek flows in a southeast direction from Colorado to near Tribune in central Greeley County and then flows in an east-northeast direction to western Wichita County. In western Wichita County White Woman Creek again turns to flow in a southeast direction into southern Scott County where it turns to flow in a northeast direction to White Woman Basin near Scott City. White Woman Creek ceases to be a surface stream at White Woman Basin. Rocky Draw is a southeast oriented stream originating in central Wichita County. Lion Creek west of Scott City is a southeast oriented stream in Scott County, which also flows to White Woman Basin. East of Scott County is Lane County and in central Lane County are east-oriented headwaters of Walnut Creek, which flows in an east direction to join the Arkansas River near Great Bend (east of the figure 2 map area). The Smoky Hill River flows from Colorado into central Wallace County where it flows in an east direction to Sharon Springs and Wallace before flowing to Russell Springs in central Logan County. From Russell Springs the Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction to join Ladder Creek near Elkader and then in an east direction to the figure 2 east center edge. As previously mentioned the east- and southeast oriented stream valleys were eroded headward across the figure 2 map area in sequence from south to north to capture immense south and southeast oriented floods. The southeast oriented White Woman Creek valley eroded headward from what were then actively eroding Arkansas River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Rocky Draw, Lion Creek, and southeast and east oriented Ladder Creek valley also were originated by headward erosion of valleys from actively eroding Arkansas River tributary valleys. Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion then beheaded flood flow routes to the actively Ladder Creek valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys. The north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment was one such valley eroded by reversed flood flow and it captured the southeast- and east-oriented Ladder Creek valley system to the west.

Ladder Creek-Middle Ladder Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Ladder Creek-Middle Ladder Creek drainage divide area in southwest Wallace County, Kansas. The north-south oriented Colorado-Kansas state line is located near the figure 3 west edge. Ladder Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 3 north edge. Middle Ladder Creek flows in an east-southeast direction in the figure 3 east center area and is formed at the confluence of the east-oriented South Fork and east-southeast oriented North Fork. South Ladder Creek is located in the figure 3 southeast quadrant near the south edge. Note the northwest-southeast oriented through valley near Rock Hill in the figure 3 northwest quadrant linking east-oriented Ladder Creek with southeast oriented North Fork Middle Ladder Creek headwaters. Figure 3a below provides a detailed map of the through valley area and also illustrates additional northwest-southeast oriented through valleys not visible on the less detailed figure 3 map. Ladder Creek is located near the figure 3a north edge and southeast and south-oriented North Fork Middle Ladder Creek headwaters are located in the figure 3a southeast quadrant. The deepest through valley is located in figure 3a section 35 and two shallower northwest-southeast oriented through valleys are located in sections 34 and 31. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple southeast-oriented flood flow channels prior to headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Ladder Creek valley. The multiple flood flow channels suggest the presence of an ever-changing southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which was probably being eroded by flood waters to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley and its actively eroding tributary valleys. The Middle Ladder Creek valley and its tributary North Fork valley eroded headward from what was then an actively eroding Ladder Creek valley into the figure 3a map area. Headward erosion of the Ladder Creek valley then beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow channels supplying flood waters to the actively eroding North Fork Middle Ladder Creek valley. Such beheading of flood flow channels is common in flood formed anastomosing channel complexes and figure 3 and 3a evidence illustrates an excellent example of where one channel in what was once an anastomosing channel complex beheaded other flood flow channels.

Figure 3a: Detailed map of Ladder Creek-Middle Ladder Creek drainage divide area near Rock Hill. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

South Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: South Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 4 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the South Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. South Ladder Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 4 north edge and joins southeast-oriented Ladder Creek just east of the figure 4 northeast corner. Ladder Creek can just barely be seen in the figure 4 northeast corner. The east-southeast oriented stream north of the word TRIBUNE flowing to the figure 4 east center edge is a Ladder Creek tributary. Southeast-oriented streams in the figure 4 southeast quadrant and south of the word TRIBUNE are White Woman Creek tributaries. White Woman Creek flows in an east-southeast direction in the figure 4 southwest corner. The multiple southeast and east-southeast oriented stream valleys in the figure 4 map area suggest the east-oriented South Ladder Creek eroded headward to behead southeast and east-southeast flood flow channels and headward erosion of the much longer Ladder Creek valley (see figures 1, 2, and 3) beheaded multiple southeast and east-southeast oriented flood flow channels supplying flood waters to what were once actively eroding White Woman Creek tributary valleys. In other words, what the figure 4 evidence is illustrating is another small section of what was once an immense and ever-changing southeast-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Channels were eroded headward from what were then actively eroding tributary valleys which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Valleys or channels in the south were eroded before valleys or channels in the north. Headward erosion of the deep northern valleys or channels beheaded flood flow channels to what were then the newly eroded southern valleys. In other words, the White Woman Creek valley eroded headward into the figure 4 map area first and southeast-oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded White Woman Creek valley. Headward erosion of the unnamed east-southeast oriented Ladder Creek tributary valley then beheaded flood flow to actively eroding White Woman Creek tributary valleys. Next headward erosion of the east-oriented South Ladder Creek valley beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded unnamed east-southeast oriented Ladder Creek tributary valley and also to other actively eroding White Woman Creek tributary valleys.

Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area northwest of Leoti

Figure 5: Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area northwest of Leoti. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 illustrates the Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area northwest of Leoti, east and south of the figure 4 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 4. Leoti is the town located in the figure 5 southeast corner. Selkirk is the much smaller town located near the figure 5 south center edge. Ladder Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 5 north center edge to the figure 5 east center area where it makes a jog to the north before continuing to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 5 east center edge. An unnamed Ladder Creek tributary flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 5 northwest corner area to join Ladder Creek in the figure 5 northeast quadrant. A northeast-oriented Ladder Creek tributary in the region east of the figure 5 center has southeast-oriented headwaters. White Woman Creek flows in an east-northeast direction from the figure 5 southwest corner to join a southeast-oriented tributary north of Selkirk and then to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 5 south edge. Note how White Woman Creek tributaries from the north are oriented in a southeast direction. Also note how the figure 5 landscape appears to be an east- or southeast-sloping erosion surface (although it is possible the surface was formed in other ways, including deposition of flood transported sediments). The north-oriented Ladder Creek jog (in the figure 5 northeast quadrant) was probably formed by a reversal of south-oriented flood flow on the north end of a beheaded south-oriented flood flow channel. The flood flow channel was probably beheaded by headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Ladder Creek valley. Evidence of the former south-oriented flood flow channel cannot be seen in figure 5, but can be seen on more detailed maps. Figure 5a below provides a detailed map of the Ladder Creek northward jog and of a short north-oriented Ladder Creek tributary valley immediately south of the Ladder Creek north-oriented valley segment. The north-oriented tributary valley was eroded by reversed flood flow moving to the newly eroded Ladder Creek valley. Also note the hill in section 25 immediately east of the short north-oriented tributary valley. The hill defines the east margin of what was once a south-oriented flood flow channel that was beheaded and reversed by Ladder Creek valley headward erosion. South of the hill evidence of the flood flow channel is much more subtle, suggesting southeast-oriented flood waters deeply eroded the region and destroyed much the former flood flow channel evidence.

Figure 5a: Detailed map of Ladder Creek northward jog (seen in figure 5 northeast quadrant. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area east of Leoti

Figure 6: Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area east of Leoti. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 illustrates the Ladder Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area east of Leoti and east and south of the figure 5 map area (and includes overlap areas with figure 5). Leoti is the town located near the figure 6 west center edge. Marienthal is the smaller town located near the figure 6 center. Ladder Creek can be seen in the figure 6 northwest corner area where after flowing in a southeast direction it turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to the figure 6 north edge and then north of figure 6 turns to flow in an east-southeast direction so as to appear again in the figure 6 northeast corner area. White Woman Creek is the southeast oriented stream in the figure 6 southwest corner area. Rocky Draw is the southeast oriented stream flowing from the region between Leoti and Marienthal to the figure 6 southeast corner area. South and east of the figure 6 southeast corner Rocky Draw flows almost to the White Woman Creek valley, but then is shown on the map as ceasing to continue as a surface stream (see figure 8 below). Lion Creek is the east-southeast and east oriented stream in the figure 6 east enter area. East of figure 6 Lion Creek also disappears as a surface stream. Note the east- and/or southeast oriented topographic surface, which probably is a flood eroded erosion surface, although deposition of flood transported sediments may also have played a role in development of the topographic surface. Flood waters at the time the southeast and east oriented figure 6 valleys were eroded probably were moving to what were then actively eroding tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 6 map area subsequently beheaded south oriented flood flow routes to cause the flood flow reversal that captured the southeast and east oriented Ladder Creek valley.

Ladder Creek-Lion Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Ladder Creek-Lion Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 7 illustrates the Ladder Creek-Lion Creek drainage divide area east and north of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Scott City is the town located in the figure 7 southeast quadrant. Ladder Creek is the east oriented stream near the figure 7 north edge, which north of Scott City turns to flow in a north-northeast direction to the figure 7 north edge. North of figure 6 Ladder Creek flows for a considerable distance in a straight north direction to eventually join the Smoky Hill River (see Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties essay). Lion Creek is the east-southeast, east-northeast, and southeast oriented stream in the figure 7 south half, which ceases to exist as a surface stream near the figure 7 south edge. Note how the east- and southeast oriented slope levels off considerably in the Scott City area. The abrupt change in the Ladder Creek direction of flow is better shown in figure 7a below, which uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Ladder Creek elbow of capture. Scott City is located in the figure 7a southeast corner and Leoti is located near the figure 7a southwest corner. Ladder Creek is the east oriented stream flowing across the figure 7a center area and then turning to flow in a north-northeast and north direction. The east-oriented stream near the figure 7a north edge is Chalk Creek, which is a Ladder Creek tributary. North of the figure 7a map area Ladder Creek joins the east oriented Smoky Hill River. The Ladder Creek elbow of capture appears to be related to the change in slope seen in the Scott City area. West of the Scott City area there has been an almost continuous east- and/or southeast oriented slope, which at times has been quite noticeable. As can be seen in the eastern third of the figure 7 the surface levels off in the Scott City area and east oriented slope does not continue until east of the figure 7 map area (see figure 10 below). This change in slope coincides with the Ladder Creek elbow of capture, which developed when headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley beheaded and reversed a south-oriented flood flow channel and captured the southeast and east oriented Ladder Creek valley. The south-oriented flood flow channel apparently was located in the Scott City area and figures 8 and 9 below provide evidence this was a significant south-oriented flood flow channel, which deepened to south. Further, figures 8 and 9 provide evidence the south-oriented flood flow channel may have been unevenly filled with flood transported and deposited sediments, resulting in several significant topographic depressions.

Figure 7a: Reduced size maps of Ladder Creek elbow of capture northwest of Scott City. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Lion Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Lion Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 8 illustrates the Lion Creek-White Woman Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Scott City is the town located along the figure 8 north edge in the northeast quadrant. South of Scott City is White Woman Basin. Note how the east and southeast oriented slope levels off in the White Woman Basin area and the surface is almost flat with a slight depression in the basin central area. Lion Creek is the east and southeast oriented stream flowing near the figure 8 north edge and then to White Woman Basin where it ceases to be a surface stream. Rocky Draw is the southeast-oriented stream in the figure 8 west center area, which also ceases to be a surface stream when it enters the region of level ground in the figure 8 south center area. White Woman Creek flows in a southeast direction in the figure 8 southwest corner and then turns to flow in an east-northeast and then northeast direction to White Woman Basin, where it also disappears as a surface stream. From the topographic map evidence alone it is only possible to speculate on the White Woman Basin origin. Based on evidence seen in figures 7 and 7a that the White Woman Basin is located south of the Ladder Creek elbow of capture my speculation is the White Woman Basin is located in what was a south-oriented flood eroded valley, which has subsequently been largely filled with flood deposited sediments. The flood deposited sediments did not completely fill the former south-oriented valley, which may explain the topographic depression seen today. Probably the flood deposited sediments are sandy materials, which could account for the streams ceasing to flow as surface drainage routes. If this speculative interpretation is correct it may also provide evidence of flood movements in two fundamentally different directions. The south-oriented valley (now largely filled with flood deposited sediments) was probably eroded by south-oriented flood flow, which moved south across Nebraska while the sediments may have been deposited by southeast-oriented flood flow, which traveled across eastern Colorado.

Dry Lake Basin area southeast of Scott City

Figure 9: Dry Lake Basin area southeast of Scott City. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 9 illustrates the Dry Lake Basin area southeast of Scott City and south and east of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Dry Lake is located near the figure 9 center and is located in the Dry Lake Basin. East of the depression in which Dry Lake is located is a second depression located near the figure 9 east center edge. A southeast-oriented stream in the figure 9 southeast corner area is a Pawnee River tributary and provides some clues as to the Dry Lake Basin origin. Figure 9a uses reduced size maps to  illustrate the Pawnee River headwaters area south and east of the figure 9a map area. The southeast-oriented river in the figure 9a southwest corner is the Arkansas River, which south and east of the figure 9a map area turns to flow in northeast direction to Great Bend (east of the figure 9a map area) before turning to flow in a southeast direction again. The Pawnee River originates in the figure 9a south center area and flows north to the figure 9a north center area and then turns to flow in an east direction near the figure 9a north edge. East of the figure 9a map area the Pawnee River flows in a generally east direction to eventually join the northeast-oriented Arkansas River. The southeast-oriented Pawnee River tributary originating in the Dry Lake Basin area (and seen in the figure 9 southeast corner) joins the Pawnee River near its elbow of capture (where it turns from flowing north to flowing east). The north-oriented Pawnee River headwaters, like the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment, originated as a south-oriented flood flow channel to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. In fact, the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment and the north-oriented Pawnee River valley segments probably represent flood flow reversals on different segments of the same south-oriented flood flow channel. The White Woman Basin and Dry Lake Basin are depressions located between the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment and the north-oriented Pawnee River valley. The south-oriented flood flow channel was probably eroded by flood waters that moved south across Nebraska. Sometime after the south-oriented flood flow channel was eroded there was a massive inflow of sediment laden east and/or southeast oriented flood water from Colorado. The flood waters from the west deposited significant sediments in the previously formed south-oriented flood flow channel, leaving the two disconnected reversed flow valleys and the depressions in between. This interpretation implies multiple immense flood events with flood waters using fundamentally different routes to reach western Kansas and also implies flood waters (especially those flowing from Colorado) transported and deposited significant sediments in western Kansas, which partially obscured evidence of the earlier south-oriented flood events.

Figure 9a: Pawnee River headwaters area south of the Dry Lake Basin. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

White Woman Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area east of Scott City

Figure 10: White Woman Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area east of Scott City. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 10 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the White Woman Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area east of Scott City and east of the figures 7 and 8 map areas. Scott City is the town located along the figure 10 west center edge. White Woman Basin, where White Woman Creek disappears as a surface stream, is located south of Scott City. The east oriented stream in the figure 10 northeast corner area is Middle Fork Walnut Creek. The north-northeast oriented stream near the figure 10 east edge (south half) is the South Fork Walnut Creek and east of the figure 10 map area the South Fork turns to flow in an east direction to join the Middle Fork and the North Fork to form east oriented Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek then flows in an east direction to join the Arkansas River near Great Bend, where the northeast-oriented Arkansas River turns to flow in a southeast direction again. Note the very gradual east oriented slope located in the figure 10 map area, which is almost level compared to regions west of Scott City seen in the earlier figures. The figure 10 evidence suggests flood waters forming the figure 10 topographic surface were primarily flowing in an east direction and probably deposited sediments to fill the south-oriented valley which probably once existed in the region. The map evidence alone is not adequate to determine to what extent the figure 10 topographic surface is an erosion surface and to what extent the figure 10 topographic surface is a depositional surface, although both origins are not only possible, but also probable. East-oriented flood waters in the figure 10 map area were moving to the Arkansas River valley at a time prior to headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley and other east-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys (e.g. Republican River valley and South Fork Republican River valley) which ultimately captured all east- and southeast-oriented flood flow which had been moving to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Figure 10a below provides a big area map to illustrate how headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley, North Fork Smoky Hill River valley, and South Fork Republican River valley in sequence would have beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow routes to the southeast-oriented Ladder Creek and White Woman Creek valleys (and to the east-oriented Walnut Creek valley).

Figure 10a: Eastern Colorado-Western Kansas map to illustrate how headward erosion of Smoky Hill River and Republican River tributary valleys beheaded east and southeast oriented flood flow to Walnut Creek. 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.

2 Comments

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  1. Brad

    Eric, Earlier today I responded to your answer to my question regarding the Hazel Branch basin in Linn County. Now I have a question regarding White Woman Creek/Basin. As you know that is classified as an endorheic basin. But if that were to ever fill up exactly where would the floodwaters flow out to? The Kansas Water Office (KWO) places it into the Arkansas River system. Also any runoff that makes it into that basin seems to me would most likely either soak down into the Ogallah aquifer and or evaporate way. Do you have any idea which is the primary way the water would leave this basin? I look forward to your response. Thanks.

    • Eric Clausen

      Brad, Technically I agree with the interpretation that the White Woman Creek drainage basin belongs in the Arkansas River drainage basin, although I also agree with you that overflow under present climatic conditions is extremely unlikely. At the time the White Woman Creek valley was eroded immense meltwater floods were flowing in a south and/or southeast direction across the region to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Based on topographic map evidence elevations to the south of White Woman Creek Basin are slightly lower than to the north, which suggests any surface runoff today from the basin would go south. Relief in the region is extremely low meaning that if there should be surface runoff large areas would also be flooded, which would greatly increase the potential for loss of surface water to the underlying aquifers and/or to evaporation.

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