South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area landform origins in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties, Kansas, USA

· Kansas, Saline River, Solomon River
Authors

Abstract:

The South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense south oriented floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and initially flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide elevations today. Headward erosion of what was then a deep east-oriented Saline River valley captured south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters to what were then newly eroded Smoky Hill River, Kansas River, and Missouri River valleys. South and southeast oriented tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Saline River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow channels. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented South Fork Solomon River valley then beheaded flood flow channels to the newly eroded Saline River valley and to what were then actively eroding south and southeast oriented Saline River tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north, erode north-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributary valley, and create the South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes positions and orientations of the Saline River valley and its tributary valley, positions and orientations of the South Fork Solomon River valley and its tributary valleys, and numerous north-oriented through valleys crossing the South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide and also many of the South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area secondary 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 South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area landform origins in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell 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 lin 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 South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area landform origins in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: South Fork Solomon River-Saline 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 South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties, Kansas location map. Figure 1 shows an area of north central Kansas with a smaller area of south central Nebraska in the north. The east oriented Platte River can just barely be seen along the figure 1 north edge where it flows near Kearney, Nebraska. East of the figure 1 map area the Platte River joins the south-southeast oriented Missouri River. With the exception of a small area in the figure 1 southeast corner all other figure 1 drainage flows to the east oriented Kansas River, which is formed near Junction City (in the figure 1 southeast quadrant) at the confluence of the southeast-oriented Republican River and the east-northeast oriented Smoky Hill River. The Republican River originates west of the figure 1 map area and flows in an east direction just north of the Nebraska-Kansas state line to Superior, Nebraska before turning to flow in a southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River at Junction City. The Smoky Hill River also originates west of the figure 1 map area and flows in an east and east-southeast direction across the figure 1 southwest quadrant and south center area before turning to flow north to Salina. At Salina the Smoky Hill River is joined by the east and east-southeast oriented Saline River and then flows in an east-northeast direction to join the Republican River at Junction City. Between the east- and southeast-oriented Republican River and the east and east-southeast oriented Saline River is the Solomon River. The Solomon River is formed near Cawker City at the confluence of the east-oriented North and South Forks of the Solomon River. East of Cawker City the Solomon River flows in southeast direction to join the Smoky Hill River near Solomon, Kansas. The South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties is located south of the South Fork Solomon River segment extending from Nicodemus to Cawker City.

The North Fork Solomon River-South Fork Solomon River drainage divide area in Norton, Phillips, Smith, Graham, Rooks, and Osborne Counties essay describes the region north of the drainage divide area discussed here and the Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area in Mitchell, Lincoln, Ottawa, and Saline Counties essay describes the region east of the drainage divide area discussed here. Essays can be found under appropriate categories on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays collectively provide very strong evidence for immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across Nebraska and into Kansas. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet. The east-oriented Kansas River tributary valleys eroded headward in sequence to capture the massive south-oriented floods and to divert flood waters east to what were then newly eroded Kansas River and Missouri River valleys. The Smoky Hill River valley eroded headward  across present day Kansas to capture south-oriented flood flow first. Next the Saline River valley eroded headward to capture the south-oriented flood flow and beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River. The Solomon River-South Fork Solomon River valley then beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Saline River valley. The North Fork Solomon River valley next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded South Fork Solomon River valley. Headward erosion of the Republican River valley then beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded North Fork Solomon River-Solomon River valley. Finally Platte River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Republican River valley.

South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area detailed location map. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 2 provides a detailed location map for the South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide area in Rooks, Osborne, Ellis, and Russell Counties, Kansas. Rooks, Osborne, Mitchell, Ellis, Russell, and Lincoln are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The North Fork Solomon River and the South Fork Solomon River meet at the Waconda Lake Reservoir located in northwest Mitchell County to form the east-southeast oriented Solomon River, which flows the figure 2 east edge (north half). The South Fork Solomon River flows from the figure 2 west edge in an east-northeast direction to Webster Reservoir in western Rooks County and then across Rooks County and into northwest Osborne County. In Osborne County the South Fork Solomon River turns to flow in an east-southeast and then northeast direction to join the North Fork Solomon River at Waconda Lake. Northeast-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributaries in Osborne County include Twin Creek, Covert Creek, Kill Creek, and Medicine Creek. South Fork Solomon River tributaries in Rooks County are north-oriented and include Elm Creek and Boxelder Creek. Lost Creek is the unnamed north-oriented tributary north of Zurich and west of Boxelder Creek. The Saline River flows in an east direction from the figure 2 west edge (south half) into and across northern Ellis County. In the Ellis County northeast corner the Saline River turns to flow in an east-southeast direction to Wilson Lake Reservoir in eastern Russell County. From Wilson Lake the Saline River flows in a northeast and east direction into and across Lincoln County. Paradise Creek is an east-southeast and southeast oriented Saline River tributary, which originates near Plainville in south central Rooks County and flows across the Osborne County southwest corner before flowing to the Saline River in Russell County. Sand Creek is a south-southeast oriented Saline River tributary west of Paradise Creek, which originates near Zurich in southern Rooks County and which joins the Saline River in north central Ellis County. Wolf Creek is a major Saline River tributary east and north of Paradise Creek, which originates in southern Osborne County and which flows across the Russell County northeast corner to join the Saline River in western Lincoln County. The Smoky Hill River is the east-oriented river located near the figure 2 south edge and Big Creek is the east-southeast oriented stream flowing through Hays in Ellis County to join the Smoky Hill River in western Russell County. Figure 2 drainage history began with headward erosion of the Smoky Hill River valley across the figure 2 map area to capture south-oriented flood flow. The Big Creek valley then eroded headward from the newly eroded Smoky Hill River to behead flood flow routes to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River valley. Next headward erosion of the Saline River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Smoky Hill River-Big Creek valley. The Wolf Creek and Paradise Creek valleys eroded headward from the Saline River valley to behead south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Saline River valley. Then South Fork Solomon River valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Saline River, Wolf Creek, and Paradise Creek valleys. North-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes.

Twin Creek-Fourmile Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Twin Creek-Fourmile Creek drainage divide area in southern Osborne County. Covert Creek is the northeast-oriented stream flowing across the figure 3 northwest quadrant and north of figure 3 Covert Creek turns to flow in a north direction to join the South Fork Solomon River. The north and northeast oriented stream east of Covert Creek and originating near the figure 3 center and flowing to the figure 3 north edge (east half) is Twin Creek. North of the figure 3 map area Twin Creek turns to flow in a north-northeast direction to join the South Fork Solomon River. Note the north-oriented Twin Creek tributary flowing through WINFIELD township and Cheyenne Gap at the south end of that tributary’s north-oriented valley. Northeast-oriented streams flowing to the figure 3 east edge (north edge) are headwaters of north-oriented Carr Creek, which also flows to the South Fork Solomon River. South-oriented streams along the figure 3 south edge flow to southeast-oriented Wolf Creek, which is a Saline River tributary. Wolf Creek headwaters are located in VALLEY township in the figure 3 southwest quadrant. Coon Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 south center edge. Fourmile Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream south of Cheyenne Gap and East Fork Wolf Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 southeast corner. Note north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Wolf Creek (and Saline River) tributary valleys. The deepest and best defined through valley is located at Cheyenne Gap and links the north-oriented Twin Creek valley with the south-oriented Fourmile Creek valley. East of Cheyenne Gap a well-defined through valley links the northeast-oriented Carr Creek headwaters valley with the south-oriented East Fork Wolf Creek valley. West of Cheyenne Gap shallower through valleys can be seen linking the north-oriented Twin Creek headwaters valley with the south-oriented Coon Creek valley and linking north-oriented Covert Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Wolf Creek headwaters valleys. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels such as might be found in a south-oriented flood formed anastomosing channel complex. Flood waters originally flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 3 elevations today. The deep south-oriented valleys eroded headward into the figure 3 map area from what was then the newly eroded and deep Saline River-Wolf Creek valley. At that time the South Fork Solomon River valley north of the figure 3 map area did not exist. Headward erosion of the deep South Fork Solomon River valley (and northeast-oriented tributary valley segments) then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels, one channel at a time from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversed flow direction to flow north and eroded the north-oriented tributary valleys. Because flood flow channels were beheaded one channel at a time and because flood flow channels were interconnected reversed flow in a newly beheaded flood flow channel could capture flood flow from yet to beheaded flood flow channels further to the west. Such captured flood water supplied the water volumes needed to erode significant north-oriented valleys.

Detailed map of Twin Creek-Fourmile Creek drainage divide area near Cheyenne Gap

Figure 4: Detailed map of Twin Creek-Fourmile Creek drainage divide area near Cheyenne Gap. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Twin Creek-Fourmile Creek drainage divide area near Cheyenne Gap. Cheyenne Gap is labeled and is a deep and well-defined north-south oriented through valley linking a north-oriented Twin Creek tributary valley with the south-oriented Fourmile Creek valley. Note in section 4 (west of Cheyenne Gap) another deep and well-defined north-south oriented through valley. Other shallower through valleys can be seen in the figure 4 northeast corner and in the section 29 southwest corner and section 32 northwest corner and also in the section 32 center. These through valleys are water eroded features and provide evidence of a drainage system that no longer exists. The multiple through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels, that originated as components of a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. The deeper south-oriented channels were eroded headward from what was at that time the newly eroded Wolf Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Saline River valley. When the deep Cheyenne Gap valley and the deep section 4 through valley were eroded the deep South Fork Solomon River valley north of the figure 4 map area had yet to be eroded. When the South Fork Solomon River valley did erode headward across the region north of the figure 4 map area it beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded South Fork Solomon River valley. The reversal of flood flow was responsible for eroding north-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributary valleys and for creating the South Fork Solomon River-Wolf Creek (Saline River) drainage divide. The Cheyenne Gap floor represents the depth to which the south-oriented Fourmile Creek valley had eroded at that point as it had eroded north into what is now the north-oriented Twin Creek drainage basin. The entire Twin Creek drainage basin was formed by the reversal of flood flow that occurred when the South Fork Solomon River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels, which had been moving flood waters to what were then the actively eroding south-oriented Fourmile Creek valley and other south-oriented Wolf Creek tributary valleys.

Kill Creek-Covert Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Kill Creek-Covert Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 illustrates the Kill Creek-Covert Creek drainage divide area north and west of the figure 3 map area and includes a small overlap area with figure 3. Osborne is the town located in the figure 5 northeast corner. The east-southeast oriented South Fork Solomon River is located near the figure 5 north edge in the figure 5 east half. The northeast and north-northeast tributary joining the South Fork Solomon River near Osborne is Covert Creek. Kill Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary flowing from the figure 5 southwest corner to join the South Fork Solomon River just east of TILDEN township. East Kill Creek is the north-northeast oriented Kill Creek tributary originating in the figure 5 south center area. Medicine Creek is the northeast-oriented tributary flowing from the figure 5 west edge to join the South Fork Solomon River just west of TILDEN township. Note southeast-oriented tributaries or tributary headwaters for Covert Creek, Kill Creek, and Medicine Creek. Also note how at least some of those southeast-oriented tributary valleys are linked by through valleys with the northeast-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributary valley to the northwest. The through valleys suggest the northeast-oriented Covert Creek, Kill Creek, and Medicine Creek valleys eroded headward in sequence (from the southeast to the northwest) across southeast or south-southeast oriented flood water. The diversion of south-oriented flood flow to southeast-oriented flood flow probably occurred as reversed flood flow in newly beheaded valleys captured yet to be beheaded flood flow from south-oriented flood flow channels further to the west. In other words headward erosion of newly reversed flood flow in the Covert Creek valley captured south-oriented flood flow from south-oriented flood flow channels further to west and that captured flood water moved in a southeast direction to the newly reversed and now north-oriented Covert Creek valley. Once flood flow started to move in a southeast and then northeast direction. The northeast-oriented Kill Creek and Medicine Creek valleys eroded headward across the southeast-oriented flood flow and diverted that southeast-oriented flood water to the actively eroding South Fork Solomon River valley head. South Fork Solomon River valley headward erosion across the region ended all figure 5 south- and southeast-oriented flood flow.

Covert Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 illustrates the Covert Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area west and slightly south of the figure 3 map area and south and somewhat west of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Paradise is the town near the figure 6 south center edge. Natoma is the town near the figure 6 west center edge. Paradise Creek is the southeast-oriented stream flowing from Natoma to Paradise. The southeast and south-southeast oriented stream flowing from the figure 6 northwest corner to join Paradise Creek at Paradise is Eagle Creek. Waldo is the town located near the figure 6 southeast corner and the southeast-oriented stream at Waldo is West Fork Wolf Creek. Southeast and northeast oriented Covert Creek is near the figure 6 north edge in the figure 6 northeast quadrant. North-oriented drainage along the figure 6 north edge west of Covert Creek flows to northeast-oriented Kill Creek. Figure 7 below provides a detailed map of the Kill Creek-Eagle Creek drainage divide area. Note north-oriented Covert Creek tributaries in the figure 6 northeast quadrant and how those north-oriented tributary valleys are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Wolf Creek and Paradise Creek tributary valleys. The through valleys in figure 6 are shallower and at a higher elevation than the deep north-south oriented through valleys in the Cheyenne Gap area located east of the figure 6 map area. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the Covert Creek drainage divide area with the south-oriented Paradise Creek tributary in the LIBERTY township area. The figure 6a map contour interval is 20 feet. Note multiple shallow through valleys crossing the drainage divide between north-oriented Covert Creek tributary valleys and south-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys. Most figure 6a through valleys are defined by a single contour line, but through valleys are present and are evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow routes that once moved flood water across the figure 6 and 6a map areas. These through valleys provide evidence flood waters once flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 6 elevations today. Erosion of that initial high level topographic surface began when headward erosion of the deep Paradise Creek valley entered the figure 6 map area. The Paradise Creek valley eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding and deep Saline River valley. Deep tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Paradise Creek valley along and across south-oriented flood flow routes. Headward erosion of the deep South-Fork Solomon River valley north of the figure 6 map area next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes, which caused reversals of flood flow responsible for Covert Creek valley headward erosion. Covert Creek valley headward erosion beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to the actively eroding south-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Covert Creek tributary valleys and to create the Covert Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide.

Figure 6a: Detailed map of Covert Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate through valleys north of LIBERTY township in figure 6. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Detailed map of Kill Creek-Eagle Creek drainage divide area

Figure 7: Detailed map of Kill Creek-Eagle 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 Kill Creek-Eagle Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail along the figure 6 north edge (west half). North-oriented streams flowing to the figure 7 north edge are Kill Creek tributaries. North of the figure 7 map area Kill Creek flows in a northeast direction to join the South Fork Solomon River (see figure 5). South-oriented streams flowing to the figure 7 south edge are Eagle Creek tributaries. South of the figure 7 map area Eagle Creek flows in a south-southeast direction to join Paradise Creek, which then joins the Saline River. Note how the north-oriented Kill Creek tributary valleys are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented Eagle Creek tributary valleys. The through valleys are shallow and are usually defined by a single contour line, with the figure 7 contour interval being 20 feet. However, the through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once moved flood waters to what was then the actively eroding south-oriented Eagle Creek tributary valley. That Eagle Creek tributary valley was eroding headward along south-oriented flood flow channels from what was then the newly eroded Eagle Creek valley, which had eroded headward from the what was then the newly eroded Paradise Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Saline River valley. At that time the deep east-oriented South Fork Solomon River valley north of the figure 7 map area did not exist and the deep northeast-oriented Kill Creek valley had yet to erode headward into the region north of the figure 7 map area. Headward erosion of the northeast-oriented Kill Creek valley from what was then the actively eroding South Fork Solomon River valley head beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels to the south-oriented Eagle Creek tributary valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Kill Creek valley. The reversal of flood flow eroded the north-oriented Kill Creek tributary valleys and created the Kill Creek-Eagle Creek drainage divide.

Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide area

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

Figure 8 illustrates the Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide area south and west of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Natoma is the town located in the figure 8 northeast quadrant and Codell is the town located in the northwest quadrant. Paradise Creek flows in an east direction from the figure 8 west edge to Codell and then to Natoma before turning to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 8 east edge. The meandering Saline River is flowing in an east-southeast direction in the figure 8 southwest quadrant. Note south-oriented Saline River tributaries and north-oriented Paradise Creek tributaries. The north-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys are linked by north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented Saline River tributary valleys. Figure 8a below provides a detailed map of the Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide area south of Codell to better illustrate the through valleys. East-oriented Paradise Creek is located near the figure 8a north edge. South-oriented streams flowing to the figure 8a south edge are Saline River tributaries. The north-south oriented through valleys crossing the drainage divide are easy to see and there are at least ten (maybe more) such through valleys visible in the figure 8a map area. The figure 8a contour interval is 20 feet and several of the through valleys are defined by as many as three contour lines on each side. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once moved flood water to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Saline River tributary valleys. At that time the Saline River valley had just eroded west into the figure 8 map area. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Paradise Creek valley in the figure 8a map area had not yet occurred and flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high the present day Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide. Paradise Creek valley headward erosion then entered the figure 8a map area and beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence from the east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys and to create the Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide.

Figure 8a: Detailed map of Paradise Creek-Saline River drainage divide area south of Codell. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Medicine Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Medicine Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area north and slightly west of the figure 8 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 8. Plainville is the town located near the figure 9 west edge in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. Codell is the smaller town located near the figure 9 south center edge. Paradise Creek as seen in figures 8 and 8a flows in an east direction from Codell to the figure 9 southeast corner. The north-oriented stream in the figure 9 northwest quadrant is Elm Creek. The north-oriented stream east of Elm Creek (and east of Twin Mound) is Medicine Creek. Elm Creek and Medicine Creek are north-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributaries. Note the presence of several caliche pits providing some limited information about the regional bedrock characteristics. Also note the presence of several hills or monadnocks standing as isolated remnants of what was once a higher level topographic surface. Further note how northwest-oriented Elm Creek tributary valleys are linked by through valleys with southeast-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys. Through valleys linking the north-oriented Medicine Creek valley with south-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys are harder to see on figure 9, but figure 9a below provides a detailed map of the Medicine Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate those through valleys. Note the through valley in section 21 of figure 9a and shallower through valleys in sections 30 and 29. Also note the hill in the figure 9a northwest quadrant. The figure 9a contour interval is ten feet so the figure 9a through valleys are not deep, at least when compared with the surface on either side. However, the isolated hills provide markers of a higher level topographic surface that flood waters have almost completely stripped from the figure 9a map area. In other words, immense south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Paradise Creek valley and to the actively eroding south-oriented Paradise Creek tributary valleys literally stripped the entire Medicine Creek-Paradise Creek drainage divide area from an elevation at least as high as the top of the hill in the figure 9a northwest quadrant to the produce the drainage divide seen today. That hill in section 13 stands approximately 100 feet higher than the highest elevations in section 20. The north-oriented Medicine Creek valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow on the north end of south-oriented flood flow channels when headward erosion of the deep South Fork Solomon River valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow.

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

Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 illustrates the Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide area west of the figure 9 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 9. Plainville is the town located near the figure 10 east edge. Palco is the smaller town located near the figure 10 west edge. Zurich is the even smaller town located near the figure 10 center. Boxelder Creek is the north-oriented stream north of Plainville, Lost Creek is the north-oriented stream north of Zurich, and Spring Creek is the north-oriented stream north of Palco. Boxelder Creek, Lost Creek, and Spring Creek all flow to the east-oriented South Fork Solomon River. Wild Horse Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream south of Palco and Sand Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream south of Zurich. Wild Horse Creek, Sand Creek, and other figure 10 south-oriented streams all flow to the east-oriented Saline River located south of the figure 10 map area. Shallow through valleys can be seen crossing the Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide east of Zurich and also crossing drainage divides in the Palco area. Figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide area near Zurich to better illustrate the north-south oriented through valley. North-oriented figure 10a drainage flows to Lost Creek while south-oriented figure 10a drainage flows to Sand Creek. The figure 10a contour interval is ten feet. Note the shallow north-south oriented figure 10a through valley in sections 26 and 35 linking the north-oriented Lost Creek valley with the south-oriented Sand Creek valley. The figure 10a evidence suggests flood water moved across much of the Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide area as sheet flow with the through valley being eroded where the flood flow was greatest. The figure 10 drainage history is similar to drainage histories determined for previous figures. Prior to headward erosion of the deep Saline River and South Fork Solomon River valleys flood waters flowed south across the entire the entire figure 10 map area on a topographic at least as high as the present day South Fork Solomon River-Saline River drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep Saline River valley south of the figure 10 map area captured the south-oriented flood flow and south-oriented tributary valleys then eroded headward from the newly eroded Saline River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow routes. Those deep south-oriented tributary valleys eroded headward into the figure 10 map area. Headward erosion of the deep South Fork Solomon River valley north of the figure 10 map area then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels in sequence, from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded South Fork Solomon River valley. With the aid of flood waters from yet to beheaded flood flow channels further to the west the reversed flood flow was able to erode north-oriented South Fork Solomon River tributary valleys.

Figure 10a: Detailed map of Lost Creek-Sand Creek drainage divide area near Zurich. 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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