Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness Counties, Kansas, USA

· Arkansas River, Kansas, Smoky Hill River
Authors

Abstract:

The Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south-oriented floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and flowed south across Nebraska and into Kansas where headward erosion of deep valleys captured flood flow and diverted flood waters east to the Mississippi River valley. The Walnut Creek valley eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley to capture south-oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters to the Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley from what were then newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Walnut Creek valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of the Smoky Hill River and Walnut Creek valleys and of their tributary valleys and also the presence of valleys crossing the present day Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide, which is also the divide between the Missouri River and Arkansas River drainage basins.

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-Walnut Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness 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-Walnut Creek drainage divide area landform origins in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Smoky Hill River-Walnut 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 location map for the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area and shows an area in northwest Kansas. Nebraska is the state north of Kansas and Colorado is the state west of Kansas. The Arkansas River flows in an east-southeast direction beginning in the figure 1 southwest corner and flows to Syracuse, Garden City, and Dodge City, Kansas before reaching the figure 1 south center edge area. In the figure 1 south center edge area the Arkansas River turns to flow in a northeast direction to Great Bend, where it turns to flow in a southeast direction to Hutchinson and then to the figure 1 southeast corner area. South and east of the figure 1 map area the Arkansas River eventually flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River. Walnut Creek is an east-oriented tributary, which joins the Arkansas River at Great Bend. North of Walnut Creek is the east-oriented Smoky Hill River, which east of the figure 1 map area joins the Republican River (seen just north of the Kansas-Nebraska state line) to form the east oriented Kansas River, which joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, Missouri. The Missouri River flows in an east-southeast direction from Kansas City to join the south-oriented Mississippi River. The Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide is in reality the Missouri River-Arkansas River drainage divide and represents a major drainage divide, at least in the context of present day Mississippi River tributary drainage basins. The Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness Counties, Kansas is located at the west end of the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area and is west of a north-south line between Ellis (north of the Smoky Hill River and west of Hays) and Alexander (located on Walnut Creek). The Big Creek-Smoky Hill River drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties and in the Saline River-Big Creek drainage divide area in Sheridan, Gove, Trego, and Ellis Counties essays address nearby regions, both of which are directly north of the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area discussed here (Smoky Hill River essays can be found under Smoky Hill on the sidebar category list). Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays collectively present evidence for immense south-oriented floods, which were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and which flowed across Nebraska and into Kansas. East-oriented Kansas and Nebraska river valleys, including the Arkansas River valley and the Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward across Kansas and Nebraska in sequence (from south to north) to capture the south-oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to the Mississippi River valley. In other words, headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley, from what were then the newly eroded Kansas and Missouri River valleys, beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley and to what were then actively eroding Arkansas River tributary valleys.

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

Figure 2: Smoky Hill River-Walnut 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 River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area in Gove, Trego, Lane, and Ness Counties, Kansas. Gove, Trego, Scott, Lane, and Ness are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The Smoky Hill River flows in an east direction across southern Gove and Trego Counties. Cedar Bluff Reservoir is the lake flooding the Smoky Hill River valley in southern Trego County. Note how the Smoky Hill River has north and northeast oriented tributaries from the south. Sand Creek is an interesting north-northeast oriented tributary originating in northern Ness County and joining the Smoky Hill River west of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir. East of Sand Creek is north, east, and northeast oriented Page Creek which joins the Smoky Hill River in the Cedar Bluff Reservoir area. Big Timber Creek is a Smoky Hill River tributary that originates in northeast Ness County as a southeast oriented drainage system and then turns to flow in an east-northeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River just east of the figure 2 map area. Walnut Creek tributaries originate in Lane County with the North Fork Walnut Creek originating in northeast Lane County near Pendennis, the Middle Fork Walnut Creek originating in northwest and west-central Lane County, and the South Fork Walnut Creek originating in the Lane County southwest quadrant and flowing in a north-northeast and east-northeast direction to Dighton and then east into Ness County. The North and Middle Forks join in western Ness County and the resulting North Fork then joins the South Fork near Ness City to form east-oriented Walnut Creek. Note how North Fork Walnut Creek and Walnut Creek have southeast and south oriented tributaries from the north. Interesting south and southeast oriented tributaries include Wild Horse Creek, Long Branch, Bazine Dry Creek, and Alexander Dry Creek. The tributary orientations support the flood origin interpretation. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Walnut Creek valley, from what was then the newly eroded southeast oriented Arkansas River valley, captured south-oriented flood flow prior to Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion. The north-northeast oriented South Fork Walnut Creek headwaters probably originated as a reversal of south-oriented flood flow on a beheaded flood flow route. Headward erosion of the North Fork Walnut Creek-Middle Fork Walnut Creek beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded South Fork Walnut Creek valley and headward erosion of the North Fork Walnut Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Middle Fork Walnut Creek valley. South and southeast oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Walnut Creek-North Fork Walnut Creek valley. Flood flow to these actively eroding Walnut Creek-North Fork Walnut Creek tributary valleys was beheaded by Smoky Hill River valley headward erosion. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys.

Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area north of Dighton, Kansas

Figure 3: Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area north of Dighton, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 3 uses reduced size maps to illustrate the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide north of Dighton, Kansas. Dighton is the town located just east of the figure 3 south center edge area. The Smoky Hill River is the east-oriented river in the deep valley located near the figure 3 north edge. Note the west-to east oriented county line south of the Smoky Hill River. Gove County is located north of that county line. Most of the region south of the county line is Lane County, although near the figure 3 west edge there is a region in Scott County and near the figure 3 east edge is a strip of Ness County. The South Fork Walnut Creek flows in a northeast direction to Dighton and then in an east direction along the figure 3 south edge to the figure 3 southeast corner area. The east-oriented stream with the wooded valley (indicated by green in the valley) is the Middle Fork Walnut Creek. The southeast-oriented stream flowing from the WHITE ROCK township area in the figure 3 east center area is the North Fork Walnut Creek. The small town located in the WHITE ROCK township area is Pendennis and figures 4 and 5 below provide more detailed maps of the Smoky Hill-North Fork Walnut Creek drainage divide area in the Predennis region. Note how many of the Smoky Hill River tributaries are north-oriented, although a few are northeast-oriented. Figure 3 drainage history determinable from map evidence begins with flood waters flowing across the entire figure 3 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 3 elevations today. Flood waters were moving south, although the regional eastward slope suggests flood waters were also moving in a southeast and east direction probably to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. At that time the deep Smoky Hill River valley did not exist. Headward erosion of the Walnut Creek valley and tributary valleys captured flood waters and moved the flood waters east to the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley then began to behead south-oriented flood flow routes to the actively eroding Walnut Creek tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley. The reversed flow often captured yet to be beheaded flood flow from flood flow routes further to the west. With the aid of such captured flood waters the reversed flood flow eroded the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and created the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide.

Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area near Pendennis, Kansas

Figure 4: Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area near Pendennis, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 4 illustrates the Smoky Hill River-North Fork Walnut Creek drainage divide area near Pendennis without reducing the map size to better show drainage divide characteristics. Pendennis is the small town located near the figure 4 center. North-oriented streams flowing toward the figure 4 north edge are Smoky hill River tributaries. The southeast-oriented stream in the figure 4 south center area and southeast quadrant is the North Fork Walnut Creek. The east and south-southeast oriented North Fork Walnut Creek tributary originating just north of the words WHITE ROCK is Wild Horse Creek and is one of several Wild Horse Creeks seen in this know. The east-southeast oriented North Fork Walnut Creek tributary near the figure 4 south edge is Cottonwood Creek and joins the North Fork Walnut Creek south of the figure 4 map area. A close look at the Smoky Hill River-North Fork Walnut Creek drainage divide reveals several shallow north-south and northwest-southeast oriented through valleys linking north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys with southeast-oriented North Fork Walnut Creek headwaters and tributary valleys. The through valleys are shallow and on figure 4 are defined by a single contour line on each side. Figure 5 below provides a more detailed map of the drainage divide area near Pendennis to better illustrate the through valleys. The through valleys are water eroded features and are evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels, such as might be found in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. The through valleys were eroded by flood waters flowing to what were then actively eroding North Fork Walnut Creek headwaters and tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of newly beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley. Because flood flow channels were beheaded one at a time from east to west and because the channels were anastomosing (or interconnected) reversed flow in a newly beheaded channel could usually capture yet to be beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west. With the aid of such captured yet to be beheaded flood waters the reversed flow was able to erode north-oriented Smoky hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-North Fork Walnut Creek drainage divide. When viewed from a much larger perspective than is possible in this essay what we are seeing is evidence of an immense east-oriented anastomosing channel complex capturing south-oriented flood flow, which was moving south in an equally large-scale south-oriented anastomosing channel complex.

Detailed map of Smoky Hill River-Wild Horse Creek drainage divide area near Pendennis, Kansas

Figure 5: Detailed map of Smoky Hill River-Wild Horse Creek drainage divide area near Pendennis, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 provides an even more detailed map of the Smoky Hill River-Wild Horse Creek drainage divide east of Pendennis. Pendennis is the small town located in the figure 5 southwest quadrant. Wild Horse Creek flows in an east direction south of Pendennis to section 27 and then turns to flow in a south-southeast direction to join the southeast-oriented North Fork Walnut Creek south of the figure 5 map area. North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 5 north edge are headwaters of north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributaries. The figure 5 map contour interval is 10 feet with some five foot contours also shown. Shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys with the south-southeast oriented Wild Horse Creek valley can be seen in sections 20, 21, and 22, and also at the corner of sections 22, 23, 26, and 27. The through valleys are defined by only one or two contour lines on each side and are not spectacular landform features. However, the through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of drainage routes that existed just prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley to the north. The fact there are multiple such through valleys provides evidence of multiple channels of south-oriented flood flow moving to what was then the actively eroding Wild Horse Creek valley. The Wild Horse Creek valley had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded North Fork Walnut Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Walnut Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Smoky Hill River valley north of the figure 5 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction and, with the aid of captured yet to beheaded flood flow from further to the west, eroded the north-oriented Smoky hill River tributary valleys and created the Smoky Hill River-Wild Horse Creek drainage divide.

Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 illustrates the Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area in northwest Ness County and located east of the figure 4 map area. The Wild Horse Creek in figure 6 is a different Wild Horse Creek than was seen in figures 4 and 5. Utica is the town located in the figure 6 west half and Arnold is the town located in the figure 6 east half. Wild Horse Creek originates near the figure 6 west center and flows in an east direction north of Utica before turning to flow in a north-northeast direction to the figure 6 north center edge. North of the figure 6 map area Wild Horse Creek flows in a north direction to join the east-oriented Smoky Hill River. Sand Creek is the north-northeast oriented stream originating near Arnold and flowing to the figure 6 northeast corner. North and east of the figure 6 map area Sand Creek continues to flow in a north-northeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River. The east-southeast, southeast, and south-southeast oriented stream originating just south of Utica and flowing to the figure 6 south edge (east half) is the North Fork Forrester Creek. Forrester Creek is the southeast-oriented stream immediately south of the North Fork Forrester Creek. Forrester Creek and North Fork Forrester Creek join south of the figure 6 map area and flow in a southeast and south direction to join the North Fork Walnut Creek. The Wild Horse Creek seen in figures 4 and 5 can just barely be seen in the figure 6 southwest corner. Note how the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide slopes gradually to the east and is again crossed by shallow through valleys linking the north-northeast oriented Wild Horse Creek valley with the southeast-oriented North Fork Forrester Creek valley and the north-northeast oriented Sand Creek valley with a south-oriented North Fork Forrester Creek tributary valley. Figure 7 below provides a more detailed map of the Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area east of Utica to better illustrate the through valley located there. The through valleys, while shallow and appearing to be minor features, provide evidence of former south-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. Flood waters were moving at that time to the actively eroding North Fork Forrester Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what were then the newly eroded Forrester Creek, North Fork Walnut Creek, Walnut Creek, and Arkansas River valleys. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow causing a reversal of flood flow, which eroded the north-northeast oriented Wild Horse Creek valley. The east-oriented Wild Horse Creek valley segment was eroded by captured yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow stilling moving west of the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head. That captured yet to be beheaded flood flow moved east to the newly reversed flood flow channel and helped erode the deep Wild Horse Creek valley.

Detailed map of Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide areaUnited States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 7 provides a detailed map of the Wild Horse Creek-North Fork Forrester Creek drainage divide area east of Utica, Kansas, which was seen in less detail in figure 6 above. Utica is located near the figure 7 west edge. The North Fork Forrester Creek is located south of Utica and flows in an east direction to the figure 7 southeast quadrant and then in a southeast direction to the figure 7 southeast corner. Wild Horse Creek flows in an east direction near the west half of the figure 7 north edge and then turns to flow in a north direction to the figure 7 north center edge. Note short north-oriented Wild Horse Creek tributary valleys. Also note in section 19 the shallow north-south oriented through valley linking a north-oriented Wild Horse Creek tributary valley with the North Fork Forrester Creek valley. An even shallower through valley is located in section 20. The through valleys are evidence of water eroded channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. At the time water flowed in those channels the deep Smoky Hill River valley did not exist and flood waters were flowing to what was then the actively eroding North Fork Forrester Creek valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley then beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow. The reversed flood flow moved north to the newly eroded and deep Smoky Hill River valley and captured significant yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow from flood flow channels west of the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head. The captured flood flow moved east to join the reversed flood flow in the actively eroding Wild Horse Creek valley and helped erode what is today the east and north oriented Wild Horse Creek valley. Note how the Wild Horse Creek valley has been eroded deeper than the east and southeast oriented North Fork Forrester Creek valley located south of the drainage divide. Remember when viewing this drainage divide that the drainage divide is the divide between the Missouri River drainage basin to the north and the Arkansas River drainage basin to the south. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley was capturing south-oriented flood flow that had been moving to the what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley.

Page Creek-Bazine Dry Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 illustrates the Page Creek-Bazine Dry Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 7 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 7. Arnold is the town near the figure 8 west center edge. Ransom is the town near the figure 8 center. Osgood is the place-name on the railroad east and north of Ransom. The Bazine Dry Creek originates just south of Ransom and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 8 southeast corner. South and east of figure 8 the Bazine Dry Creek drains to east oriented Walnut Creek. South oriented drainage in the figure 8 southwest quadrant flows to southeast oriented Forrester Creek and then to Walnut Creek. The north-northeast oriented stream originating near Arnold is Sand Creek, which flows to the Smoky Hill River. The north-oriented stream originating a short distance west of Ransom is the East Branch Sand Creek, which joins Sand Creek north of the figure 8 map area. The north, east, and northeast oriented stream originating a short northeast of Ransom and flowing to the figure 8 northeast corner area is Page Creek, which north of the figure 8 map area flows to the Smoky Hill River. Note shallow through valleys near Arnold linking the north-oriented Sand Creek valley with south-oriented Forrester Creek tributary valleys. Also note in the Osgood area through valleys linking north-oriented Page Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Bazine Dry Creek tributary valleys. Through valleys in the Ransom area do not show up on figure 8 and just barely can be seen on more detailed maps. Figure 8a below is a detailed map of drainage divides in the Ransom area. Bazine Dry Creek flows in an east and southeast direction in the figure 8a south half. The East Branch Sand Creek is the north-oriented stream originating west of Ransom and flowing to the figure 8a north edge. North-oriented Page Creek headwaters are located in the figure 8a northeast quadrant. The figure 8a map contour interval is ten feet and five foot contours are also shown. Shallow through valleys linking the north-oriented East Branch Sand Creek valley with the east and southeast oriented Bazine Dry Creek valley can be found in sections 23 and 26, although they are defined by a single five foot contour line. A shallow through valley in section 19 links the north-oriented Page Creek headwaters valley with the southeast-oriented Bazine Dry Creek valley and again is defined by a single five foot contour line. While subtle evidence the shallow through valleys exist and are evidence of south-oriented flood flow routes that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels and flood waters on north ends of beheaded channels reversed flow to flow north, to erode north-oriented Smoky Hill River tributary valleys and to create the Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide.

Figure 8a: Smoky Hill River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area near Ransom, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Page Creek-Big Timber Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Page Creek-Big Timber Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Osgood is the place-name (really a railroad siding name) located near the figure 9 west center edge. Brownell is the town located near the figure 9 center. Page Creek is the north and northeast oriented stream in the figure 9 northwest quadrant. North of the figure 9 map area Page Creek flows to the east-oriented Smoky Hill River. Big Timber Creek is the southeast-oriented stream in the figure 9 east half and all southeast-oriented drainage routes north and east of Big Timber Creek are Big Timber Creek tributaries. The southeast-oriented stream located west of Brownell flows to east-oriented Walnut Creek and the Arkansas River. Big Timber Creek east of the figure 9 map area turns to flow in northeast direction to join the east-oriented Smoky Hill River, which flows to the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. In other words, Brownell is located on the Missouri River-Arkansas River drainage divide even though streams on both sides flow in a southeast direction. Note how Page Creek tributary headwaters are oriented in a north-northwest direction and appear to be linked with headwaters of the southeast-oriented Walnut Creek tributary valleys and also with headwaters of the southeast-oriented Big Timber Creek headwaters valleys. Figure 10 below provides a detailed map of the drainage divide area northwest of Brownell to illustrate shallow through valleys crossing the drainage divides. Orientations of Page Creek, Walnut Creek, and Big Timber Creek tributary valleys provide evidence of multiple southeast-oriented flood flow channels that existed prior to headward erosion of the deep Smoky Hill River-Page Creek valley. Initially the southeast-oriented flood flow was moving to what was then the newly eroded Walnut Creek valley located south and east of the figure 9 map area. Headward erosion of the northeast-oriented Big Timber Creek valley from the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley head next captured the southeast-oriented flood flow north and east of Brownell. Then headward erosion of the Page Creek valley beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow routes across the figure 9 map area (both to the newly eroded Big Timber Creek valley and to the Walnut Creek valley). Flood waters on northwest ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction and eroded the north-northwest oriented Page Creek tributary valleys and created the Page Creek-Big Timber Creek and the Page Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divides.

Detailed map of Page Creek-Big Timber Creek drainage divide area north of Brownell

Figure 10: Detailed map of Page Creek-Big Timber Creek drainage divide area north of Brownell, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 10 provides a detailed map of the Page Creek-Big Timber Creek drainage divide area north of Brownell, which was seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Brownell is the town located in the figure 10 southeast quadrant. East and southeast oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 east edge are headwaters of Big Timber Creek tributaries, with Big Timber Creek flowing in a southeast and then northeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River. South oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 south edge west of Brownell are Walnut Creek tributaries, with east oriented Walnut Creek flowing to the Arkansas River. North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 north edge and northwest and west oriented streams flowing to the figure 10 west edge are Page Creek tributaries, with northeast-oriented Page Creek flowing to the east oriented Smoky Hill River. Note how shallow through valleys link the north and northwest oriented Page Creek tributary valleys with east- and southeast-oriented Big Timber Creek headwaters valleys and also with the south oriented Walnut Creek tributary valleys. Looking at the figure 10 evidence it is difficult to image how prior to Page Creek valley headward erosion there was any distinction between flood flow routes to Big Timber Creek and the Smoky Hill River (and the Missouri River) and flood flow routes to the Walnut Creek and Arkansas River. South and southeast oriented flood flow in the figure 10 map area was at least for a time moving freely to both the Missouri River valley and the Arkansas River valley, even though today the Missouri River and the Arkansas River are two unique and separate drainage systems. Headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Big Timber Creek valley from the actively eroding Smoky Hill River valley captured the flood flow north and east of Brownell. Prior to that time the flood flow north and east of Brownell had also been moving to what were then the newly eroded the Walnut Creek and Arkansas River valleys. Headward erosion of the deep northeast-oriented Page Creek valley then beheaded south and southeast oriented flood flow routes moving across the figure 10 area. Flood waters on north and northwest ends of the beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to erode north and northwest oriented Page Creek tributary valleys and to create the Page Creek-Big Timber Creek and Page Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divides.

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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