Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area landform origins in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, Kansas, USA

Authors

Abstract:

The Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, Kansas was eroded by immense south-oriented floods. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. Headward erosion of what was then a deep southeast-oriented North Fork Solomon River valley captured south-oriented flood flow and diverted flood waters southeast to a newly eroded Kansas River valley. South-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary valleys then eroded headward along and across anastomosing south-oriented flood flow channels. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Republican River valley further north next 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 erode north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys and to create the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes orientations and positions of present day valleys and through valleys linking north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys with south-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary valleys.

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 Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area landform origins in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, 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 Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area landform origins in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Republican River-North Fork Solomon 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 Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area location map. The figure 1 north half shows an area in south central Nebraska while south half depicts a region in north central Kansas. The North Fork Solomon River is located in the figure 1 southwest quadrant and flows from the figure 1 west edge to New Almelo, Leonard, Edmond, Kirwin, Gaylord, Harlan, Portis, and Downs before joining the South Fork Solomon River at Cawker City, Kansas. The Solomon River, which is formed by the confluence of the North and South Forks near Cawker City, flows in an east-southeast and southeast direction to the figure 1 south edge and then to join the east-oriented Kansas River south of the figure 1 map area. The Republican River is located north of the North Fork Solomon River and flows from the figure 1 west edge to Cambridge, Holbrook, and Arapahoe, Nebraska before turning to flow in a southeast and east direction to Edison, Oxford, Orleans, Alma, Republican City, Naponee, Franklin, Riverton, Red Cloud, Guide Rock and Superior, Nebraska. East of Superior the Republican River turns to flow in a south-southeast direction to Republic, Scandia, and Concordia, Kansas. From Concordia the Republican River turns to flow in an east direction to Clyde and Clifton before turning to flow to the figure 1 southeast corner. South and east of the figure 1 map area the Republican River flows to the east-oriented Kansas River, which joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, Missouri. The Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, Kansas is generally located south of the Republican River segment between Naponee and Red Cloud, Nebraska. The Republican River-Solomon River drainage divide area in Nuckolls County, Nebraska and Jewell and Mitchell Counties, Kansas essay, describes the region located immediately east of the drainage divide area discussed here and can be found under Republican River or Solomon River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays (published on this website) provide significant evidence suggesting immense south-oriented floods moved across Nebraska and into Kansas. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet. The east-oriented North Fork Solomon River valley eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Solomon River valley, which had eroded headward from the what was then the newly eroded Kansas River valley. These valleys eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Missouri River valley to capture the immense south-oriented flood flow. Headward erosion of the Republican River valley, which also eroded from the newly eroded Kansas River valley, occurred after North Fork Solomon River valley had first captured the south-oriented flood flow. Republican River valley headward erosion beheaded and reversed the south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded North Fork Solomon River valley.

Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area detailed location map

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

Figure 2 provides a more detailed map of the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide area in Franklin and Webster Counties, Nebraska and Smith County, Kansas. Harlan, Franklin, Webster, and Nuckolls are Nebraska county names and the county boundaries are shown. Phillips, Smith, and Jewell are Kansas county names. Harlan County Lake is the reservoir located in Harlan County, Nebraska. The Republican River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 2 west edge (northwest corner area) to Harlan County Lake and then flows from Harlan County Lake in an east direction across southern Franklin and Webster Counties. East of Superior in southern Nuckolls County the Republican River turns to flow in a south-southeast direction into Kansas and to the figure 2 east edge (south half). The North Fork Solomon River flows from the figure 2 west edge across southern Phillips County and the Smith County southwest corner before entering Waconda Lake south of Jewell County. The South Fork Solomon River flows in an east direction along the figure 2 south edge to join the North Fork Solomon River at Waconda Lake. Waconda Lake is reservoir flooding the Solomon River valley and the Solomon River flows in a southeast direction from Waconda Lake to the figure 2 south edge (near the southeast corner). White Rock Creek is a southeast and east oriented Republican River tributary originating in northeastern Smith County and flowing across northern Jewell County. Pawnee Creek is a White Rock Creek tributary in northeast Smith County. Note north and north-northeast oriented Republican River tributaries originating in northern Smith County. From east to west the named tributaries in Webster and Franklin Counties are Buffalo Creek, Walnut Creek, and Lohff Creek. Other north-oriented tributaries are named on topographic maps shown below. Also note south and south-southeast oriented North Fork Solomon River tributaries in Smith County. From east to west the named tributaries include Oak Creek, Spring Creek, Beaver Creek, and Cedar Creek. Most of these North Fork Solomon River tributaries have multiple branches, which are also named. The south and south-southeast oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded North Fork Solomon River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow channels, such as might be found in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Republican River valley in Webster and Franklin Counties then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north. The reversed flood flow eroded north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys and also created the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide.

Republican River-White Rock Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: Republican River-White Rock Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 3 illustrates the Republican River-White Rock Creek drainage divide area in northeast Smith County and northwest Jewell County, Kansas. Webster County, Nebraska is located in the figure 3 north half. Jewell County, Kansas is located in the figure 3 southeast quadrant and Smith County is located in the southwest quadrant. The east-oriented Republican River can be seen along the figure 3 north edge. Note north-oriented Republican River tributaries. From west to east the named north-oriented Republican River tributaries are Buffalo Creek, Hungry Creek, State Creek, Louisa Creek, Penny Creek, and Cedar Creek, which flows to the figure 3 north center edge adjacent to the highway. East of the highway are Hicks Creek, Lost Creek, and Advent Creek (Oak Valley). Some of these north-oriented streams also have named tributaries, which have not been included in the list. South, south-southeast, and southeast oriented drainage in the figure 3 southwest quadrant represents White Rock Creek headwaters. South of figure 3 White Rock Creek turns to flow in a generally east direction to join the Republican River where it turns to flow in a south-southeast direction east of the figure 3 map area. South and southeast oriented drainage in the figure 3 southeast quadrant flows to east-oriented White Rock Creek. Note how the north-oriented Republican River tributaries are linked to the south-oriented White Rock Creek tributaries by shallow north-south oriented through valleys. Prior to headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Republican River south-oriented flood flow moved across the entire figure 3 map area. Flood waters flowed on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 3 elevations today. Headward erosion of what was then the deep White Rock Creek valley from what was then the actively eroding Republican River valley head east of the figure 3 map area captured the south-oriented flood flow and diverted the flood waters east to the newly eroded Republican River valley. Republican River valley headward erosion then beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels moving flood waters to the newly eroded White Rock Creek valley and its actively eroding south-oriented tributary valleys. Flood flow channels were beheaded one channel at a time from east to west. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded and deep Republican River valley. Because flood flow channels were anastomosing or interconnected reversed flow in a newly beheaded channel could capture significant yet to beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west. Such captures of yet to be beheaded flood flow provided water volumes required to erode the north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys.

Detailed Buffalo Creek-White Rock Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Buffalo Creek-White Rock Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Buffalo Creek-White Rock Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Buffalo Creek is the north-oriented Republican River tributary flowing to the figure 4 north center edge. The northwest-oriented stream flowing to the figure 4 northwest corner is a Walnut Creek tributary. Walnut Creek is a north-oriented Republican River tributary located west of Buffalo Creek. The north-northeast oriented stream in the figure 4 northeast corner is a tributary to north-oriented Louisa Creek and the north-oriented stream in section 1 is the headwaters of a north-oriented Buffalo Creek tributary. East and southeast oriented White Rock Creek is located in the figure 4 south center edge area and south-oriented streams in the figure 4 southeast quadrant are White Rock Creek tributaries. Note how in sections 11 and 12 the north-oriented Buffalo Creek headwaters valleys are linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented White Rock Creek tributary valleys. Also note at the corner of sections 10, 11, 14, and 15 a northwest-southeast oriented through valley linking the northwest-oriented Walnut Creek tributary valley with the southeast-oriented White Rock Creek valley. Further note in sections 6 and 7 a north-south oriented through valley linking the north-northeast oriented Louisa Creek tributary valley with a south-oriented White Rock Creek tributary valley. These through valleys and many others like them provide evidence of the south-oriented anastomosing flood flow channels that once crossed the figure 4 map area. Flood waters responsible for eroding the south-oriented flood flow channels were flowing to what was then the newly eroded White Rock Creek valley and its actively eroding tributary and headwaters valleys. At that time the deep Republican River valley north of the figure 4 map area did not exist. Headward erosion of the deep Republican River valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes 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 and deep Republican River valley. Reversed flood flow, with the aid of yet to be beheaded south-oriented flood flow from flood flow channels further to the west, eroded the north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys.

Republican River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: Republican River-Walnut Creek drainage divide areaUnited States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 illustrates the Republican River-Walnut Creek drainage divide area west and slightly north of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Note the east-west oriented county and state boundary separating Nebraska in the figure 5 north half from Kansas in the figure 5 south half. Franklin, Nebraska is the town located in the figure 5 northwest corner. Inavale is the smaller town located near the figure 5 northeast corner and Riverton is the town located just east of the figure 5 north center edge area. Franklin and Riverton are located in Franklin County, Nebraska while Inavale is located in Webster County, Nebraska. The figure 5 Kansas area shown is all located in Smith County. The Republican River flows in an east direction from Franklin to Riverton, Inavale, and the figure 5 east edge. Buffalo Creek is the north-oriented Republican River tributary south of Inavale. Walnut Creek originates in the figure 5 south center area with south and south-southeast oriented headwaters which turn to flow in a northeast, east, and northeast direction before turning to flow straight north to the Republican River (west of Buffalo Creek). Rock Creek is the north-oriented Republican River tributary south of Riverton and Rock Creek headwaters are linked by north-south oriented through valleys with the east-oriented Walnut Creek valley to the south. School Creek is the north-oriented Republican River tributary west of Rock Creek and School Creek headwaters are linked by through valleys with south- and south-southeast oriented Walnut Creek headwaters valleys. This figure 5 evidence suggests headward erosion of the northeast, east, and northeast oriented Walnut Creek valley from the north-oriented Walnut Creek valley proceeded faster than Republican River valley headward erosion. Headward erosion of the deep Republican River valley head beheaded and reversed flood flow on what is now the north-oriented Walnut Creek valley segment. The northeast, east, and northeast oriented Walnut Creek valley segment next eroded headward (or west) to capture yet to be beheaded flood flow still moving south along flood flow channels located west of the actively eroding Republican River valley head. Headward erosion of the deep Republican River valley then beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow channels to erode the north-oriented Rock Creek and School Creek valleys and create the Republican River-Walnut Creek drainage divide. Southeast from Franklin is Lookout Mountain and the north-northeast Republican River tributary just north of Lookout Mountain is Reams Creek. The south-oriented stream south of Lookout Mountain is Bachelors Run, which south of figure 5 flows to south-oriented Beaver Creek, which flows to the southeast-oriented North Fork Solomon River. Figure 6 provides a detailed map of the Reams Creek-Bachelor Run drainage divide area.

Detailed map of Reams Creek-Bachelors Run drainage divide area

Figure 6: Detailed map of Reams Creek-Bachelors Run drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 6 provides a detailed map of the Reams Creek-Bachelors Run drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Note the west to east oriented Nebraska-Kansas state line, which also serves as the Franklin County-Smith County boundary. The north-northeast stream originating just south of the words NEBRASKA and KANSAS along that state line (figure 6 west half) is Reams Creek. North-oriented streams in sections 32 and 33 are Reams Creek tributaries. The north and north-northeast oriented streams in the figure 6 northwest corner flow to north-oriented Calumet Creek and the north and north-northeast streams in the figure 6 northeast corner flow to north-oriented Wortham Creek. Reams Creek, Calumet Creek, and Wortham Creek all flow north to join the east-oriented Republican River. Lookout Mountain is approximately 2 miles north of section 33. Note the Limestone Bluffs State Public Hunting Area. The name Limestone Bluffs suggests the regional bedrock may be limestone. The south-oriented stream in section 9 is Bachelor Run, which is a Beaver Creek tributary. Other south-oriented streams along the figure 6 south margin flow to Beaver Creek, which flows south to the southeast-oriented North Fork Solomon River. Note shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking headwaters of north-oriented Republican River tributaries with headwaters of south-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributaries. The through valleys provide evidence of a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex that was eroded into a topographic surface at least as high as the present day Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide. At that time the deep Republican River valley north of the figure 6 map area did not exist and elevations north of the figure 6 map area were at least as high as the present day Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide. Flood waters at that time were flowing to what were actively eroding south-oriented Beaver Creek tributary valleys which had eroded headward from the newly eroded North Fork Solomon River valley. Headward erosion of the deep Republican River valley north of the figure 6 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, and with the aid of captured flood waters from channels further to the west eroded north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys and created the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide.

Rebecca Creek-Cedar Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Rebecca Creek-Cedar Creek (Republican River-North Fork Solomon River) drainage divide west of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Harlan County Lake is the reservoir located behind the dam in the figure 7 northwest corner. The Republican River flows in an east direction from Harlan County Lake to the figure 7 northeast corner. Naponee is the town located in the figure 7 northwest quadrant downstream from the Harlan County Dam. The south edge of Franklin can be seen along the figure 7 north edge (in the northeast quadrant). The west to east oriented state line separates the figure 7 north half (Nebraska) from the figure 7 south half (Kansas). Named north-oriented Republican River tributaries from east to west are Wortham Creek, Reams Creek, Calumet Creek (south of Franklin), Lost Creek, Lochite Creek, Rebecca Creek, and Crow Creek. South-oriented drainage in the figure 7 southeast quadrant flows to south-oriented Beaver Creek, which flows to the North Fork Solomon River. South-oriented drainage near the north-south Phillips-Smith County line (just west of the figure 7 south center area) flows to south-oriented Cedar Creek, which is another North Fork Solomon River tributary. A close look at the figure 7 Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide reveals shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys with the south-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary valleys. The through valleys are further evidence of a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex that once moved flood waters from north of the figure 7 map area to what were then actively eroding south-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary valleys. The south-oriented valleys eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded and deep North Fork Solomon River valley. At that time the deep east-oriented Republican River valley did not exist and elevations north of the present day Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide were at least as high as the present day drainage divide elevation. Republican River valley headward erosion then deeply eroded the region north of the drainage divide and beheaded in sequence from east to west the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys and create the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide. Figure 8 provides a detailed map of the Rebecca Creek-West Cedar Creek drainage divide area located in SUMNER township.

Detailed map of Rebecca Creek-West Cedar Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Rebecca Creek-West Cedar Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 8 provides a detailed map of the Rebecca Creek-West Cedar Creek drainage divide area in Sumner Township, seen in less detail in figure 7 above. Crow Creek is the northeast-oriented stream located in the figure 8 northwest corner. North of the figure 8 map area Crow Creek flows in a north direction to join the Republican River (see figure 7). Rebecca Creek flows in a north direction in sections 20 and 17 and then turns to flow in an east and northeast direction to the figure 8 north edge (in section 10). Note how the north-oriented Rebecca Creek valley segment has southeast-oriented tributaries and how some of those southeast-oriented tributaries have north-oriented headwaters and/or tributaries. The southeast-oriented stream in section 28 (figure 8 south center area) is West Middle Cedar Creek. South-oriented drainage in sections 29, 30, and 25 in the figure 8 southwest quadrant flows to West Cedar Creek. South of the figure 8 map area West Cedar Creek and West Middle Cedar Creek flow in south-southeast directions to eventually join southeast-oriented Cedar Creek, which joins the southeast-oriented North Fork Solomon River (see figure 2). Note how the north-oriented Crow Creek valley and Rebecca Creek valley are linked by multiple north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented West Cedar Creek and West Middle Cedar Creek tributary valleys. For example in sections 19 and 24 north-oriented Crow Creek tributary valleys are linked by through valleys with south-oriented West Cedar Creek tributary valleys. Further east in sections 29, 21, and 22 north-oriented Rebecca Creek tributary and headwaters valleys are linked by through valleys with south-oriented West Middle Cedar Creek tributary valleys. The through valleys provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels that once moved large volumes of south-oriented flood water to what were then actively eroding Cedar Creek tributary valleys. Those valleys  eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded and deep North Fork Solomon River valley. At that time there was no deep Republican River valley north of the figure 8 map area and elevations to the north were at least as high as the present day Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Republican River valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels and as previously described flood waters on north ends of those beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented Republican River tributary valleys and to create the Republican River-North Fork Solomon River drainage divide.

Pawnee Creek-Middle Oak Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Pawnee Creek-Middle Oak Creek drainage divide area in central Smith County, Kansas, which is south of the figure 5 map area (there is a gap between figure 5 and figure 9). Smith Center is the town located in the figure 9 southwest corner. Lebanon is the located near the Geographic Center of the 48 States in the figure 9 southeast quadrant. Bellaire is the much smaller town located in the figure 9 south center area. Streams flowing south in the Smith Center area are Beaver Creek tributaries, with south-oriented Beaver Creek located west of the figure 9 map area. Beaver Creek is a south-oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary. The southeast oriented stream flowing across the figure 9 northeast corner is White Rock Creek, which east of the figure 9 map area turns to flow in an east direction to join the south-southeast oriented Republican River. Pawnee Creek flows from the figure 9 north center edge area in a southeast and east-northeast direction to join southeast oriented White Rock Creek. South of Pawnee Creek is southeast, northeast, and south oriented Middle Oak Creek, which flows to the figure 9 south edge. South of the figure 9 map area Middle Oak Creek joins south-southeast-oriented Oak Creek, which flows to the North Fork Solomon River. Note how the southeast and northeast oriented Middle Oak Creek valley segment is linked by shallow north-south oriented through valleys with the southeast and east-northeast oriented Pawnee Creek valley. Also note how south of the southeast and northeast oriented Middle Oak Creek valley there are shallow through valleys linking that valley segment with headwaters of southeast-oriented tributary valleys to the south-oriented Middle Oak Creek valley segment. The valley orientations and positions relative to each other and the through valleys provide evidence for deciphering the drainage history. The Middle Oak Creek valley eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded North Fork Solomon River valley along and across south and south-southeast oriented anastomosing flood flow channels (there was no Pawnee Creek valley at that time). The northeast-oriented Middle Oak Creek valley segment probably originated with a reversal of  flood flow on the north end of  a beheaded south-southwest oriented flood flow channel. The reversed flood flow captured yet to be beheaded flood flow from channels further to the west and the southeast-oriented Middle Oak Creek valley segment is evidence of such captures. Headward erosion of the southeast-oriented White Rock Creek valley and its tributary Pawnee Creek valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood channels to the newly eroded Middle Oak Creek valley. This account greatly simplifies a more complex process, but identifies key events.

West Oak Creek-Twelvemile Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 illustrates the West Oak Creek-Twelvemile Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 9 map area. Smith Center is located directly north of the figure 10 northwest corner. Harlan is the town located in the figure 10 southwest corner area. The North Fork Solomon River flows in a southeast direction across the figure 10 southwest corner. The south-southwest oriented North Fork Solomon River tributary flowing through BANNER township near the figure 10 west edge is Spring Creek. South and east of Spring Creek is south-southwest oriented Dry Creek. The south-southeast oriented streams flowing from the CRYSTAL PLAINS township area (just north of the figure 10 center) are the West and East Branches of Twelvemile Creek, which join to form south-southeast oriented Twelvemile Creek, which south of the figure 10 map area flows to the southeast-oriented North Fork Solomon River. Oak Creek is the south-southeast and south oriented stream in the figure 10 east half flowing from the north edge to the southeast corner area. West Oak Creek is south-southeast and east oriented Oak Creek tributary flowing from the figure 10 north center edge area (north of CRYSTAL PLAINS township). Note how in CRYSTAL PLAINS township the south-southeast and east oriented West Oak Creek valley is linked by a north-south oriented through valley with the south-southeast oriented East Branch Twelvemile Creek. Headward erosion of the east-oriented West Oak Creek valley segment beheaded and captured a south-southeast oriented flood flow channel supplying water to what was then the actively eroding East Branch Twelvemile Creek valley. This capture could only have taken place when flood waters were flowing in multiple south-southeast oriented flood flow channels across the east half of the figure 10 map area. The named southeast-oriented Oak Creek tributary south of West Oak Creek is Buck Creek. A close look at the Buck Creek headwaters area reveals north-south oriented through valleys link the southeast-oriented Buck Creek valley with valleys of north-oriented Oak Creek tributaries. The north-oriented streams are barbed tributaries as they flow to a south-southeast oriented stream and provide evidence that headward erosion of the deep Oak Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow on adjacent south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north oriented and barbed Oak Creek tributary valleys. Figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Oak Creek-Buck Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the through valleys and barbed tributaries.

Figure 10a: Oak Creek-Buck Creek drainage divide area. 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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