Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas, USA

· Kansas, Smoky Hill River
Authors

Abstract:

The Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south and southeast oriented floods, with flood waters derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. The Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward from what were then newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys to capture south and southeast oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to the newly eroded Mississippi River valley. Prior to Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion flood waters had been flowing to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley, which had also eroded headward from the Mississippi River valley. The east, southeast, and north oriented Ladder Creek valley eroded headward from the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head when flood waters on the north end of beheaded south-oriented flood routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment. The east, southeast, and east oriented Ladder Creek valley then eroded headward from the newly eroded north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley then beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Ladder Creek valley and to newly eroded valleys of east-oriented tributaries located between the Smoky Hill River and Ladder Creek valleys. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of present day valleys, flood eroded erosion surfaces and valley walls, and shallow through valleys crossing 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 Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Logan, 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 Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Smoky Hill River-Ladder 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 Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas location map and shows an area in northwest Kansas with a strip of southwest Nebraska in the north and an area in eastern Colorado in the west. The Smoky Hill River originates a short distance northwest of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado in the figure 1 west center area and flows in an east direction north of Weskan, Kansas to Sharon Springs, Wallace, Russell Springs, and the Cedar Bluff Reservoir. From the Cedar Bluff Reservoir the Smoky Hill River continues in an east direction to the figure 1 east center edge. Ladder Creek also originates a short distance west of Cheyenne Wells, Colorado and flows in an east direction south of Westkan, Kansas before flowing in a southeast, east, and north direction to join the Smoky Hill River. Twin Butte Creek is an east oriented tributary, located between the Smoky Hill River and Ladder Creek, which joins north-oriented Ladder Creek a short distance before Ladder Creek joins the Smoky Hill River. The Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas represents the Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area east of the Colorado-Kansas state line. The North Fork Smoky Hill River-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Sherman, Wallace, and Logan Counties essay addresses the region north of the drainage divide area discussed here. and have also addressed  numerous other similar Missouri River drainage basin drainage divides. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project collectively present strong evidence for immense south and southeast-oriented floods, which flowed from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet located north of the figure 1 map area. The Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys (east of the figure 1 map area) to capture the south and southeast oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to the Mississippi River valley. This essay presents evidence the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a beheaded south-oriented flood flow channel. The east and southeast oriented Ladder Creek valley segments eroded headward from that newly reversed flood flow channel as did the Twin Butte Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Twin Butte Creek valley beheaded flood flow to the newly eroded east-oriented Ladder Creek valley and headward erosion of the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley (and west of the Twin Butte Creek valley head to the newly eroded Ladder Creek valley).

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

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

Figure 2 provides a somewhat more detailed location map for the Smoky Hill-Ladder Creek drainage divide area in Wallace, Logan, Wichita, and Scott Counties, Kansas. Wallace, Logan, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott are Kansas county names and the county boundaries are shown. The Kansas-Colorado state line is immediately west of Wallace and Greeley Counties. The Smoky Hill River flows from the figure 2 west edge into central Wallace County and is located north of Weskan and Sharon Springs and is crossed by the highway and railroad near Wallace in eastern Wallace County. From Wallace the Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction to Russell Springs and then in an east-southeast direction to Elkader in southeast Logan County before continuing in an east direction to the figure 2 east center edge. Ladder Creek is the stream south of the Smoky Hill River along the figure 2 west edge and flows in an east direction into Kansas from the figure 2 west edge and south of Sharon Springs turns to flow in a southeast direction into northwest Wichita County. In northwest Wichita County Ladder Creek turns to flow in an east direction to northwest Scott County where it turns to flow north to join the Smoky Hill River near Elkader. A Ladder Creek tributary of importance is east-oriented Twin Butte Creek which originates in the Wallace County southeast corner and which joins Ladder Creek a short distance upstream from where Ladder Creek joins the Smoky Hill River near Elkader in southeast Logan County. Chalk Creek is located south of Twin Butte Creek and also originates in southeast Wallace County and joins Ladder Creek near where Twin Buttes Creek joins Ladder Creek. Eagletail Creek is an east-southeast and east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River tributary in the Sharon Springs area. Note the predominance of east-southeast and southeast oriented streams in the figure 2 map area. The orientations of these streams suggests that prior to headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley there was significant southeast and/or east-southeast oriented drainage (flood flow) across the figure 2 map area, probably to the southeast-oriented Arkansas River drainage basin located south and east of the figure 2 map area. Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion captured the flood flow and diverted flood waters to what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys. The north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment was formed by a reversal of south-oriented flood flow on flood flow routes beheaded by Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion. Note how the north-oriented Ladder Creek segment has captured a southeast-oriented valley segment.

Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area west of Sharon Springs

Figure 3: Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area west of Sharon Springs. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 3 illustrates the Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area west of Sharon Springs, Kansas. Sharon Springs is the town located in the figure 3 northeast quadrant. Weskan is the much smaller town located in the figure 3 west center area. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction in a deep valley located in the figure 3 north half. Ladder Creek flows in an east and east-southeast direction in a much shallower valley near the figure 3 south edge. Eagletail Creek is the southeast, northeast, southeast, northeast, and east oriented stream originating near Weskan and flowing to Sharon Springs and the figure 3 east edge. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the Eagletail Creek valley with the Ladder Creek valley. The through valleys are shallow and are generally defined by only a single contour line on each side, however the through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the Eagletail Creek valley and of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. Flood waters at that time were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Eagletail Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide and had been captured by headward erosion of the Ladder Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Eagletail Creek valley from what was then the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Ladder Creek valley in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Eagletail Creek tributary valleys and to create the Eagletail Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley then beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Eagletail Creek valley. Much more obvious north-south oriented through valleys can be seen linking the Smoky Hill River valley with the Eagletail Creek valley. The through valleys were eroded by south-oriented flood flow moving into the newly eroded Eagletail Creek valley prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley to  the north. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels and flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-Eagletail Creek drainage divide.

Detailed map of Smoky Hill River-Eagletail Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Smoky Hill River-Eagletail Creek drainage divide area near Sharon Springs, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. The east-oriented Smoky Hill River is located near the figure 4 north edge. East-northeast oriented Eagletail Creek is located in the figure 4 southeast quadrant and flows through Sharon Springs south of the railroad tracks. Note the large north-south oriented through valley in section 17 linking the deep Smoky Hill River valley with the east-oriented Eagletail Creek valley. The through valley provides evidence large volumes of south-oriented flood water once flowed from the Smoky Hill River valley area to the Eagletail Creek valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel. Also note the higher level and smaller through valley located in the section 18 southwest corner. While not as obvious or as deep as the section 17 through valley the section 18 through valley is also evidence of a south-oriented flood flow channel that once moved south-oriented flood water into what was then the newly eroded Eagletail Creek valley. More north-south oriented through valleys can be seen in the section 24 southwest corner area and in the section 23 south half. Also, the hill-top in section 24 has two knobs with a shallow dip between them. That shallow dip is evidence of a former flood flow channel that once moved flood waters across the figure 4 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the section 24 hill-top. Figure 4 evidence reveals the magnitude of flood erosion that occurred as the deep Smoky Hill River and its tributary valleys eroded headward into the figure 4 map area. Prior to headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley flood waters flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest regional elevations today. It is possible flood waters deeply eroded the region prior to that time, although no markers are left by which the erosion amount can be determined. Headward erosion of the Ladder Creek valley south of the figure 4 map area first captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted the water east to what was then the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head. Headward erosion of the Eagletail Creek valley from the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley next captured the south-oriented flood flow and finally headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly Eagletail Creek and Ladder Creek valleys and flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to create the Smoky Hill River-Eagletail Creek and Smoky Hill-Ladder Creek drainage divides.

Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area east of Sharon Springs

Figure 5: Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area east of Sharon Springs. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Smoky Hill River-Ladder Creek drainage divide area east of Sharon Springs and east of the figure 3 map area (and includes overlap areas with figure 3). Sharon Springs is located in the figure 5 northwest corner and Wallace is the smaller town located near the figure 5 north center edge. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction near the figure 5 north edge. Eagletail Creek is the east-northeast oriented tributary joining the Smoky Hill River near Sharon Springs. Rose Creek is the east-southeast and north-northeast oriented tributary originating in the figure 5 west center area and joining the Smoky Hill River south and west of Wallace. Ladder Creek is the southeast-oriented stream flowing across the figure 5 southwest corner. Twin Butte Creek is the east-southeast and east oriented stream originating north of Harrison Flats in the figure 5 southeast quadrant and Chalk Creek is the southeast-oriented stream originating south of Harrison Flats. Note how the deep Smoky Hill River has a number of short north and north-northeast oriented tributaries. Also note the east- or southeast-oriented upland erosion defined by South and Harrison Flats into which the deep Smoky Hill River and Twin Butte Creek valleys have been eroded. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley and Twin Butte Creek valley headward erosion into the figure 5 map area southeast-oriented flood water flowed across the entire figure 5 map area. Flood water was probably moving to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley, which had eroded headward across southern Kansas to capture the south-oriented flood flow. The southeast-oriented Ladder Creek segment seen in figure 5 probably reflects that southeast-oriented flood flow direction. Twin Butte Creek is a tributary to the north- and northeast-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment seen in figures 8 and 9 below and as such eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head. For a time Twin Butte Creek valley headward erosion was slightly in advance of headward erosion of the deeper Smoky Hill River valley to the north. In time Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion beheaded all flood flow routes to what was then the actively eroding Twin Creek valley head and headward erosion of the Twin Butte Creek valley ceased, as did headward erosion of the parallel Chalk Creek valley. The north-northeast oriented Rose Creek valley segment may have been eroded by reversed flood flow moving to the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley. Note how Rose Creek headwaters and tributaries are southeast oriented and also note shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valleys linking Rose Creek headwaters with Eagletail Creek tributaries.

Smoky Hill River-Twin Buttes Creek western drainage divide area

Figure 6: Smoky Hill River-Twin Buttes Creek western drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 illustrates the western end of the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek divide area located east of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. The Smoky Hill River is located near the figure 6 north edge and in the northeast quadrant meanders across the north edge. Twin Butte Creek flows in an east direction near the figure 6 south edge. Note north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys eroded into a steep north-facing slope and east and southeast oriented Twin Butte Creek tributaries eroded into a much more gradual southeast-sloping erosion surface. Also note shallow high level through valleys linking north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries with southeast-oriented Twin Butte Creek tributaries. Through valleys are best seen on more detailed topographic maps and figure 7 below provides a more detailed map of the figure 6 center area. In the figure 6 center area a northwest-southeast oriented through valley links a north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary with a southeast-oriented Twin Butte Creek tributary. Another through valley easily identifiable on figure 6 is located near where the drainage divide crosses the figure 6 east edge. The through valleys and the “graded” southeast-oriented erosion surface leading into the Twin Butte Creek valley provide evidence flood waters flowed south and southeast into what was then the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley prior to Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion into the figure 6 map area. At that time the deep Smoky Hill River valley did not exist and flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Twin Butte Creek captured the south and southeast oriented flood flow and flood waters flowing into the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley carved the southeast-oriented erosion surface leading into the valley today. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley next beheaded the south and southeast oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek valley.

Detailed map of Smoky Hill River-Twin Buttes Creek western drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Smoky Hill River-Twin Buttes Creek western drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 7 provides a detailed map of the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in the figure 6 center area. North-oriented streams in the figure 7 north half flow to the east-oriented Smoky Hill River. South and southeast oriented streams along the figure 7 south margin drain to east-oriented Twin Butte Creek. The figure 7 contour interval is ten feet. Note the northwest-southeast oriented through valley located in section 16. A much more subtle and shallower through valley is located in the section 10 southwest corner. Another through valley is located in section 11 and still another shallow through valley is located in the section 12 northeast corner.The through valleys are shallow and are easy to ignore. However, the through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of multiple south oriented flood flow routes that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. Flood waters were flowing to what were then actively eroding south and southeast oriented Twin Butte Creek tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley. North of the present day Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek drainage divide flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the drainage divide is today (in other words, the deep Smoky Hill River valley did not yet exist). Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of the newly beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley. The reversed flood flow eroded the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and created the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek drainage divide.

Smoky Hill River-Twin Buttes Creek eastern drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek eastern drainage divide area located east of the figure 6 map area. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 8 northwest corner to the figure 8 east center edge. Ladder Creek in the figure 8 southeast corner area flows north, east, and north to join the Smoky Hill River near the figure 8 east center edge. Chalk Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary joining Ladder Creek where it turns to flow in an east direction before turning to flow north again. The east-oriented tributary also joining Ladder Creek at that same elbow of capture is Twin Butte Creek, which flows across the southern half of the figure 8 map area. Note how the north-facing Twin Butte Creek and Smoky Hill River valley walls are steeper than the south-facing valley walls. Also note north-oriented tributary valleys to both the Smoky Hill River and Twin Butte Creek valleys and the south and southeast oriented Twin Butte Creek tributary valleys. A close look at the Smoky Hill River-Twin Butte Creek drainage divide reveals more evidence of shallow through valleys crossing the drainage divide. Further, shallow through valleys can be seen crossing the Twin Butte Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide, especially in the figure 8 southeast quadrant and south center area. The figure 8 drainage history determinable from the map evidence is similar to the drainage history determined for previous figures. Prior to headward erosion of the deep valleys south or southeast oriented flood flow moved 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 beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow, which eroded the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment near the figure 8 east edge. The east-oriented Twin Butte Creek valley and northeast-oriented Chalk Creek valley then eroded west and southwest from that newly reversed flood flow channel to capture south-oriented flood flow west of the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head. In doing so they beheaded and reversed additional south-oriented flood flow routes to create the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley segment flowing from the figure 8 south edge. Chalk Creek valley headward erosion for a time proceeded slightly in advance of Twin Butte Creek valley headward erosion. Twin Butte Creek headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Chalk Creek valley. For a time Twin Butte Creek valley headward erosion proceeded slightly in advance of Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion. Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Twin Butte Creek valley and eventually captured all flood flow moving to what had been the actively eroding Twin Butte Creek valley head.

Twin Buttes Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide area

Figure 9: Twin Buttes Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 9 illustrates the Twin Butte Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Ladder Creek is the north-oriented stream in the figure 9 east edge area and turns sharply to the east in the figure 9 northeast corner area. Twin Butte Creek is the east oriented stream flowing from the figure 9 northwest corner to join Ladder Creek near the figure 9 northeast corner. Chalk Creek is the east and northeast oriented stream flowing from the figure 9 west center edge to join Twin Butte Creek and Ladder Creek near the figure 9 northeast corner. Note how the Chalk Creek valley south wall is much steeper than the Chalk Creek valley north wall. Chalk Creek valley headward erosion preceded Twin Butte Creek headward erosion and flood waters from the north eroded the Chalk Creek valley north wall. The Chalk Creek valley south wall was eroded by reversed flow, which eroded the short north-oriented Chalk Creek tributary valleys. However, reversed flow in this region was not of the same magnitude as the continuing south-oriented flood flow from the north. Evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels can be seen in the form of shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing the Twin Butte Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide. Figure 9a below provides a more detailed map of the drainage divide to better illustrate the through valleys. Note in figure 9a shallow north-south oriented through valleys in sections 16, 15, 14, and 13 crossing the Twin Butte Creek (north side)-Chalk Creek (south side) drainage divide. The figure 9a map contour interval is ten feet and the through valleys are defined by three or fewer contour lines on each side, with the east sides generally lower than west sides, which reflects an eastward lowering of the drainage divide elevation. The through valleys are however water eroded features and they do provide evidence of flood flow channels eroded by flood waters moving to what was then the newly eroded Chalk Creek valley prior to headward erosion of the deep Twin Butte Creek valley to the north. Twin Butte Creek headward erosion beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Twin Butte Creek valley, to erode the north-oriented Twin Butte tributary valleys, and to create the Twin Butte Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide.

Figure 9a: Detailed map of Twin Butte Creek-Chalk Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate shallow through valleys crossing the drainage divide. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Chalk Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Chalk Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 9 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 9. Ladder Creek flows in a southeast and east direction from the figure 10 west center edge area to the figure 10 southeast quadrant and turns to flow in a north-northeast and north direction to the figure 10 northeast corner. Chalk Creek flows in an east direction just south of the figure 10 north edge until turning to flow in a northeast direction to join Ladder Creek north of the figure 10 map area (see figure 9). Lake Scott is the small reservoir located in the Ladder Creek valley (near the figure 10 northeast corner) and Timber Creek is the northeast oriented tributary joining Ladder Creek at Lake Scott. Note how much of the Chalk Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide area appears to be an east sloping erosion surface. The east sloping erosion surface continues east of the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley, suggesting reversed flood flow in the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley was able to capture significant east- and southeast oriented flood flow, which was responsible for eroding the north-oriented Ladder Creek valley. Headward erosion of the southeast and east oriented valley segments was probably slightly in advance of Chalk Creek valley headward erosion, which permitted the actively eroding Ladder Creek valley head to capture flood flow before Chalk Creek valley headward erosion beheaded those flood flow routes. Figure 10 has no evidence of through valleys crossing the Chalk Creek-Ladder Creek drainage divide, which suggests flood waters were moving as sheet flow, rather than in flood eroded channels. The east-oriented erosion surface is probably a flood eroded feature, but needs to be viewed from a much larger perspective than is possible with the figure 10 map area. East of the figure 10 map area are headwaters of east-oriented tributaries to the northeast and southeast oriented Arkansas River, which flows to Mississippi River valley on a route south of the Missouri River. The Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys also eroded headward to capture the immense south-oriented flood flow (from the rapidly melting ice sheet) prior to headward erosion of the Missouri River-Kansas River-Smoky Hill River valleys. The east-sloping erosion surface probably was eroded by flood waters to that newly eroded Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys just prior to Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion.

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 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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