Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south-oriented floods which flowed from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet into Kansas. Flood waters were captured by deep southeast and east oriented valleys that eroded headward across Kansas from the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. Headward erosion of the Arkansas River valley and tributary valleys including the Neosho and Cottonwood and North Cottonwood River valleys captured south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters to the Mississippi River valley. The north-oriented North Cottonwood River headwaters valley segment was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of a beheaded flood flow route. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley from what were then newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Cottonwood River-North Cottonwood River valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide. Orientations and positions of the Smoky Hill River and North Cottonwood River valleys and their tributary valleys and numerous north-south oriented through valleys crossing the Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide support this flood origin interpretation.

Preface:

The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is provided as evidence in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project, which is compiling similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with and within certain adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored geomorphology paradigm, which is briefly described in the introduction below. Project essays are listed on the sidebar category list under their appropriate Missouri River tributary drainage basin, Missouri River segment drainage basin (by state), or states in which the Missouri River drainage basin is located.

Introduction:

  • The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion 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-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area landform origins in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood 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 Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties location map and illustrates an area in central Kansas. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction from the figure 1 west center edge to Kanopolis Lake, Marquette, and Lindsborg where it turns to flow in a north direction to Salina. Near Salina the Smoky Hill River turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to Junction City where it joins the south-southeast oriented Republican River to form the east-northeast and east-southeast oriented Kansas River, which flows to the figure 1 east edge near Topeka. East of the figure 1 map area the Kansas River joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, Missouri and the Missouri River flows in an east-southeast direction across the state of Missouri to join the south-oriented Mississippi River. The Arkansas River is located in the figure 1 southwest quadrant and flows in a southeast direction from Great Bend (on the figure 1 west edge) to Hutchinson and the figure 1 south edge (west half). The named southeast-oriented river originating south of Junction City and flowing to the figure 1 southeast corner is the Neosho River. South and east of the figure 1 map area the Neosho River joins the Arkansas River. The southeast-oriented tributary joining the Arkansas River at Hutchinson is Cow Creek. East of Cow Creek is an unnamed southeast-oriented stream originating near Geneseo and flowing to Medora and Halstead before reaching the figure 1 south edge. That unnamed stream is the Little Arkansas River and it joins the Arkansas River south of the figure 1 map area. East of the north-oriented Smoky Hill River segment (between Lindsborg and Salina) is an unnamed north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary flowing through Gypsum, which is named on more detailed maps as Gypsum Creek. Just east of Gypsum Creek headwaters is a north and southeast-oriented stream, the North Cottonwood River, which flows to Durham and Marion before joining the South Cottonwood River. The Cottonwood River then flows to Florence before turning to flow in an east-northeast direction to join the Neosho River near Emporia. The Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties illustrated and discussed in this essay is located east of a north-south line extending from Salina to Mc Pherson, west of a north-south line extending from Junction City to Florence, north of the North Cottonwood River, and south of the Smoky Hill River. Essays describing adjacent Smoky Hill River drainage basin drainage divides are listed under Smoky Hill River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays have collectively presented evidence for immense south-oriented floods which flowed from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet into Kansas. Flood waters were systematically captured from south to north by headward erosion of deep Mississippi River tributary valleys, which diverted the flood waters east and southeast to the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. Headward erosion of the Arkansas River valley and its tributary valleys, including the Neosho River and Cottonwood River valleys, occurred before headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley. Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion from what were then newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what were then actively eroding Arkansas River tributary valleys, including the North Cottonwood River valley.

Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River 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 River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area in Saline, Dickinson, Mc Pherson, and Marion Counties, Kansas. Saline, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Mc Pherson, Marion, and Chase are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east-southeast direction from Kanopolis Lake near the figure 2 west center edge to Marquette and Lindsborg in northwest Mc Pherson County where it turns to flow in a north direction to near Salina in Saline County. From Salina the Smoky Hill River flows in an east-northeast direction across Dickinson County to Junction City in Geary County. At Junction City the Smoky Hill River joins the south-southeast oriented Republican River to form the northeast-oriented Kansas River, which flows to the figure 2 north edge. The east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River segment east of Salina has several north-oriented tributaries in Saline and Dickinson Counties. These north-oriented tributaries from west to east are Gypsum Creek, Holland Creek, Turkey Creek, and Lyon Creek, with Lyon Creek joining the Smoky Hill River in western Geary County. Carry Creek is a northeast-oriented Lyon Creek tributary located in eastern Dickinson County. The North Cottonwood River originates near Canton in eastern Mc Pherson County and flows in a north-northeast direction into western Marion County before making an abrupt turn to flow in a southeast direction to Durham and Marion Lake. The South Cottonwood River joins the North Cottonwood River just down stream from Marion Lake to form the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River, which flows to Marion and Florence before turning to flow in an east-northeast and east direction to join the Neosho River east of the figure 2 map area. Named tributaries joining the Cottonwood River near Marion are Mud Creek and Clear Creek. Note how North Cottonwood River and Cottonwood River tributaries from the north in Marion County are south-oriented as opposed to the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries in eastern Saline County and Dickinson County. All figure 2 drainage routes were established by systematic headward erosion of deep valleys into the figure 2 map area to capture south-oriented flood flow and to divert the flood waters southeast and east to the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. The Cottonwood Creek-North Cottonwood Creek valley eroded headward into the region first from what were then the newly eroded Neosho and Arkansas River valleys. South-oriented Cottonwood River and North Cottonwood River tributary valleys then began to erode headward from the newly eroded Cottonwood River-North Cottonwood River valley. Headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley from what were then newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys beheaded the south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Cottonwood River and North Cottonwood River tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-Cottonwood River and Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divides.

Gypsum Creek-Emma Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Gypsum Creek-Emma Creek drainage divide area in eastern Mc Pherson County. Galva is the town located in the figure 3 southwest quadrant. Canton is the town located east of Galva. The north-south oriented Mc Pherson County-Marion County boundary is located east of Canton. The north-oriented stream north of Canton is South Gypsum Creek. The North Cottonwood River is the north-northeast and north oriented stream east of South Gypsum Creek and flowing along the county boundary. West of South Gypsum Creek are north-oriented Battle Creek and north-oriented Gypsum Creek. Gypsum Creek, Battle Creek, and South Gypsum Creek all join north of the figure 3 map area to form north-oriented Gypsum Creek, which flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River, which flows to Kansas and Missouri Rivers. North Cottonwood River north of the figure 3 map area turns to flow in a southeast direction and eventually reaches the Neosho River, which flows to the Arkansas River. The south-oriented stream south of Canton is Emma Creek, the south-southwest oriented stream between Canton and Galva is Running Turkey Creek, and the south-southwest oriented stream near the figure 3 west edge is Turkey Creek. Turkey Creek, Running Turkey Creek, and Emma Creek all join the Little Arkansas River south of the figure 3 map area and the Little Arkansas River then joins the Arkansas River. The drainage divide between north-oriented Gypsum Creek headwaters streams and the North Cottonwood River and the south-oriented Little Arkansas River tributaries is in reality the divide between the Missouri River drainage basin and the Arkansas River drainage basin. The drainage divide between the north-oriented North Cottonwood River and south-oriented Emma Creek is the Cottonwood River-Little Arkansas River drainage divide. The north-oriented North Cottonwood River valley segment was eroded by reversed flood flow when headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented North Cottonwood River valley north of the figure 3 map area beheaded south-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Emma Creek valley. The north-oriented Gypsum Creek headwaters valleys were eroded by reversed flood flow when headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 3 map area beheaded south-oriented flood flow to what were then actively eroding Turkey Creek, Running Turkey Creek, and Emma Creek valleys. In other words headward erosion of southeast-oriented North Cottonwood River valley north of the figure 3 map area occurred at approximately the same time as headward erosion of the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 3 map area. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing the drainage divide, which provide further evidence of south-oriented flood flow channel routes used before flood flow was reversed to flow north.

Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area

Figure 4: Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 4 illustrates the Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area north and somewhat east of the figure 3 map area. North-oriented Gypsum Creek, Battle Creek, and South Gypsum Creek join in the figure 4 southwest quadrant to form north-oriented Gypsum Creek, which flows to the figure 4 north edge (west half). North of the figure 4 map area Gypsum Creek flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. Note the north-south oriented county boundary east of the north-oriented Gypsum Creek valley. The north-oriented stream in HOLLAND township near the figure 4 north center edge is West Holland Creek and the north-oriented stream immediately east of West Holland Creek is East Holland Creek. North of the figure 4 map area East and West Holland Creeks join to form north-oriented Holland Creek, which flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. The north-northeast oriented stream in the figure 4 northeast corner area is West Turkey Creek, which north and east of the figure 4 map joins Turkey Creek and East Turkey Creek to form north-oriented Turkey Creek, which also flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. The north-northeast and southeast oriented stream in the figure 4 south center area (flowing from where the county boundary crosses the south edge to DURHAM PARK township) is the North Cottonwood River. Note how North Cottonwood River tributaries from the north are south-oriented and are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with the north-oriented Holland Creek and Turkey Creek headwaters. The figure 4 drainage history determinable from the map evidence begins with immense south-oriented floods flowing across the entire figure 4 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 4 elevations today. Flood waters were flowing to what were then actively eroding Little Arkansas River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the southeast-oriented North Cottonwood River valley then captured the south-oriented flood flow in all but the figure 4 southwest corner area. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded North Cottonwood River valley and eroded the north-northeast oriented North Cottonwood River valley segment and north-oriented North Cottonwood River tributaries (from the south). Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 4 map area next captured the south-oriented flood flow. Again flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area

Figure 5: Detailed map of Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 provides a detailed map of the Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 4 above to better illustrate the shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Holland Creek headwaters valleys with the south-oriented North Cottonwood Creek tributary valleys. West Holland Creek is the north-oriented stream in section 34 flowing to the figure 5 north edge (just west of the north-south oriented highway). East Holland Creek is the north-northwest oriented stream in section 36 flowing to the figure 5 north edge. South-oriented streams flowing to the figure 5 south edge are North Cottonwood River tributaries. Note in sections 4, 10, 11, and 12 multiple north-south oriented shallow through valleys linking north-oriented Holland Creek headwaters valleys with south-oriented North Cottonwood River tributary valleys. The map contour interval is ten feet and through valleys are generally defined by fewer than four contour lines on each side. The through valleys are eroded across what is today a high drainage divide area and provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow routes that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 5 map area. At that time the region north of the figure 5 map area was at least as high as the present day Smoky Hill River-North Cottonwood River drainage divide is now and flood waters were flowing to what were then actively eroding south-oriented North Cottonwood River tributary valleys, which were eroding headward from what was then the newly eroded North Cottonwood River valley (south of the figure 5 map area). Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 5 map area then beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Because flood flow channels were beheaded one channel at a time from east to west and because flood flow channels were interconnected reversed flood flow in a newly beheaded flood flow channel could capture yet to be beheaded flood flow in channels further to the west. With the aid of such captured yet to be beheaded flood flow reversed flood flow in newly beheaded flood flow channels was able to erode significant north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Holland Creek-North Cottonwood River drainage divide.

Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 illustrates the Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 4 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 4. Tampa is the town located west of the figure 6 south center area and Ramona is the town located northeast from Tampa. Turkey Creek flows north from the figure 6 center area to the figure 6 north center edge area. West Turkey Creek is the north-northeast oriented stream west of Turkey Creek. Lyon Creek is the north-oriented stream in the figure 6 northeast quadrant. Turkey Creek and West Turkey Creek join north of the figure 6 map area to form north-oriented Turkey Creek, which flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. Lyon Creek flows in a north and north-northeast direction north and east of the figure 6 map area to also join the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. Mud Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing through Tampa to the figure 6 south center edge. South of figure 6 Mud Creek flows to the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River a short distance down stream from where North Cottonwood River and South Cottonwood River join to form the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River. All other south-oriented figure 6 drainage also flows to the Cottonwood River. Study of the figure 6 map area reveals several broad, but shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Cottonwood River tributary valleys. For example, note how a broad, but shallow through valley north of Tampa links the south-oriented Mud Creek headwaters with the north-oriented Turkey Creek and West Turkey Creek headwaters valleys. Also note another broad, but shallow north-south oriented through valley in the BLAINE township area west of Tampa linking the West Turkey Creek valley with a south-oriented Cottonwood River tributary valley. These through valleys suggest flood waters were flowing in an anastomosing complex of south-oriented channels, which were converging and diverging as the channels progressed south toward what was then the newly eroded Cottonwood River-North Cottonwood River valley. Headward erosion of the deep east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 6 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north-ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-Cottonwood River drainage divide.

Detailed map of Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 7 provides a detailed map of the Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide area near Tampa, which was seen in less detail in figure 6 above. Tampa is the town located near the figure 7 south center edge. Mud Creek is the southeast and south-southeast oriented stream flowing through Tampa to figure 7 south edge. South of figure 7 Mud Creek flows to the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River. North-oriented drainage originating in section 13 north of Tampa is the headwaters of north-oriented Turkey Creek, which north of the figure 7 map area flows to the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. Note in sections 13 and 14 the broad, but shallow north-south oriented through valley linking the north-oriented Turkey Creek valley with the south-oriented Mud Creek valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 1430 and 1440 feet and the hill-top to the east is at least 1480 feet high and the hill-top to the west is labeled as being 1486 feet. In other words the through valley is 40-50 feet deep. Sections are one mile square meaning the through valley is more than a mile in width. While not deep the through valley is a significant water eroded feature and provides evidence of a south-oriented flood flow channel that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. Another shallower and narrower through valley can be seen in section 18 linking a north-northeast oriented East Turkey Creek tributary valley with the south-oriented Mud Creek valley. East Turkey Creek joins Turkey Creek north of the figure 7 map area. The multiple diverging and converging flood flow channels the two major figure 7 through valleys describe provide evidence of a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex, which moved flood water to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Cottonwood River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 7 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Turkey Creek and tributary valleys and to create the Turkey Creek-Mud Creek drainage divide.

Lyon Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 illustrates the Lyon Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Herington is the larger town near the figure 8 north edge (east half). Lost Springs is the smaller town south of Herington and Ramona is the smaller town in the figure 8 west center area. East Turkey Creek is the north-northwest oriented stream near the figure 8 west edge and west and north of figure 8 joins Turkey Creek and West Turkey Creek to form north-oriented Turkey Creek, which flows to the Smoky Hill River north of the figure 8 map area. Lyon Creek is the north-northwest and north-northeast oriented stream originating west of Lost Springs and flowing north to the figure 8 north center edge area. North of the figure 8 map area Lyon Creek flows in a north and north-northeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River. Kohls Creek is the north-northwest oriented tributary originating north of Lost Springs and joining Lyon Creek at Lake Herington, which is located west of Herington. The south and south-southwest oriented stream just east of Lost Spring is Clear Creek, which south of the figure 8 map area flows in a south direction to join the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River. Other south-oriented drainage along the figure 8 south edge flows to either Clear Creek or Mud Creek, both of which flow to the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River. A close look at the Smoky Hill River-Cottonwood River drainage divide area (near the figure 8 south edge) reveals additional broad, but shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Cottonwood River tributary valleys. The multiple north-south oriented through valleys are additional evidence of a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex that existed prior to headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 8 map area. Flood waters were flowing to what were then actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys that had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded southeast-oriented Cottonwood River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 8 map area next beheaded 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 erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and create the Smoky Hill River-Cottonwood River drainage divide.

Detailed map of Kohls Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 provides a detailed map of the Kohls Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide area near Lost Springs, which was seen in less detail in figure 8 above. Lost Springs is the town located near the figure 9 south edge (west half). Clear Creek flows in a south direction in the figure 9 southeast quadrant and south of the figure 9 map area flows to the southeast-oriented Cottonwood River. Other figure 9 south-oriented streams are Clear Creek tributaries and join Clear Creek south of the figure 9 map area. The north-oriented stream in section 3 in the figure 9 northeast quadrant is Kohls Creek, which north of the figure 9 map area flows to north-oriented Lyon Creek, which in turn flows to east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. North-oriented drainage in the figure 9 northeast quadrant represents headwaters of north-oriented Lime Creek, which eventually joins north-oriented Lyon Creek. Figure 9 evidence again reveals multiple shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Lyon Creek tributary valleys with the south-oriented Clear Creek tributary valleys. The map contour interval is ten feet and the through valleys are defined by three or fewer contour lines on each side. However, the through valleys exist and they provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding Clear Creek tributary and headwaters valleys. At that time the deep Smoky Hill River north of the figure 9 map area did not exist and flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Lyon Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 9 map area beheaded 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 to the newly eroded and deeper Smoky Hill River valley. The flood flow reversal eroded the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and created the Lyon Creek-Clear Creek drainage divide.

Smoky Hill River-Carry Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 illustrates the Smoky Hill River-Carry Creek drainage divide area north of the figure 8 map area and there is a gap between figure 8 and figure 10. The east-northeast oriented and meandering Smoky Hill River is located in the figure 10 northwest quadrant. Enterprise is the town located just south of the Smoky Hill River in the figure 10 northwest quadrant. The north-northeast oriented stream near the figure 10 east edge is Lyon Creek, which north and east of the figure 10 map area joins the Smoky Hill River. Carry Creek is the northeast-oriented Lyon Creek tributary flowing from the figure 10 south center edge area to join Lyon Creek near the figure 10 east center edge. Note the east-northeast and east oriented Carry Creek tributary near the figure 10 south edge (west half). Also note north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries in the figure 10 west half and how those north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with the east-northeast and east oriented Carry Creek tributary valley. The through valleys are better seen on more detailed maps and figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Deer Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide. Deer Creek is the name of the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary located east of Enterprise. Spring Creek is the name of the Carry Creek east-northeast and east-oriented tributary. The through valley linking the north-oriented Deer Creek valley with the east-oriented Spring Creek valley is located in section 22. Note there is no significant south-oriented Spring Creek tributary valley. The Spring Creek valley was probably eroded by yet to be beheaded flood flow from flood flow channels west of the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head and which had been captured by reversed flood flow in the Lyon Creek valley and other reversed flood flow channels which had been beheaded by headward erosion of the advancing Smoky Hill River valley head. In other words, for a time flood waters flowed south along the Deer Creel valley alignment to the east-oriented Spring Creek alignment and then flowed in a northeast direction on the Carry Creek alignment to the newly reversed Lyon Creek alignment and then to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. It is possible at a later time as the Smoky Hill River valley eroded further west flood waters flowed north from the Spring Creek alignment into the newly reversed Deer Creek channel and helped erode the deep Deer Creek valley.

Figure 10a: Deer Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail near the figure 10 southeast corner. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Additional information and sources of maps

This essay has only provided a sample of the drainage divide evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” geomorphology paradigm. Many additional examples could be provided, especially by using more detailed topographic maps. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of supporting data. Maps used in this study were created by the United States Geological Survey and can be purchased in hard copy from the United States Geological Survey or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories located in major research libraries and elsewhere throughout the United States and in other countries. Illustrations used in this essay were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital data. National Geographic Society digital maps can be purchased from the National Geographic Society or from dealers offering National Geographic Society digital maps.

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