Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area landform origins in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

A geomorphic history based on topographic map evidence

Abstract:

The Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties, Kansas is drained by several south-oriented rivers and streams, all of which flow to the east-oriented Kansas River. These rivers and streams from west to east are the Big Blue River, Rock Creek, Vermillion Creek, Cross Creek, Soldier Creek, and the Delaware River. The south-oriented river and stream valleys eroded headward during an immense south-oriented flood from what was then the newly eroded and deep east-oriented Kansas River valley, which had eroded headward to capture the south-oriented flood water. Flood water was probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet. Headward erosion of the south-oriented river and stream valleys and their tributary valleys deeply eroded the Pottawatomie and Jackson County area and occurred in an identifiable sequence. Evidence supporting this interpretation includes orientations of present day valleys and numerous barbed tributaries, elbows of capture, and through valleys crossing present day drainage divides. Flood erosion radically changed the Pottawatomie and Jackson County and surrounding region landscape.

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 Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area landform origins in Pottawatomie and Jackson 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 Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area landform origins in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Big Blue River-Delaware 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 Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties, Kansas location map. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north center edge to Kansas City and then turns to flow in an east direction to the figure 1 east edge. Missouri is the state east of the Missouri River and the north-south state line south of Kansas City. Kansas is located west of Missouri except near the figure 1 north edge where Nebraska is north of Kansas. The Kansas River is the east-oriented river flowing through Junction City, Manhattan, Topeka, and Lawrence, Kansas before joining the Missouri River at Kansas City. The Big Blue River is not labeled, but is the south-oriented river flowing from Beatrice, Nebraska (in the figure 1 northwest corner area) to Marysville and Blue Rapids, Kansas before joining the Kansas River near Manhattan. Note how the Blue River flows in a southwest and then southeast direction in the Tuttle Creek Reservoir area north of Manhattan. The Delaware River is east of the Big Blue River and is also unlabeled and flows in a south-southeast direction from Sabetha, Kansas (near the Nebraska border) to Muscotah and Valley Falls before joining the Kansas River near Perry. Between the Big Blue River and Delaware River are several other unlabeled south-oriented Kansas River tributaries. From west to east these are Rock Creek, which flows from Westmoreland to join the Kansas River east of Wamego; Vermillion Creek, which originates near Corning and flows through Onaga before joining Rock Creek to flow to the Kansas River; and Soldier Creek, which flows to the Kansas River north of Topeka. The Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area (Nebraska) the Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Jefferson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte Counties (Kansas) and the Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties (Kansas) essays address drainage divide areas located north or east of the Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties and can be found under KA Missouri River or NE Missouri River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of published Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay on this website illustrate and describe overwhelming evidence for immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across the entire figure 1 map area. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet and were captured by headward erosion of the east-oriented Missouri River-Kansas River valley. The south-oriented Missouri River (north of Kansas City), Delaware River, Soldier Creek, Vermillion Creek, Rock Creek, and Big Blue River valleys and their tributary valleys all eroded along and across south-oriented flood flow routes and eroded headward from the actively eroding east-oriented Missouri River-Kansas River valley.

Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area detailed location map. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 2 provides a slightly more detailed map of the Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area in northeast Kansas. Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Riley, Pottawatomie, Jackson, Jefferson, Geary, Wabaunsee, and Shawnee are Kansas County names and the county boundaries are shown. This essay illustrates topographic map evidence located in Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties. The Kansas River flows in a northeast direction between Riley and Geary Counties and then in an east-southeast direction along the southern boundaries of Pottawatomie and Jackson Counties. The Big Blue River flows south in Marshall County and then forms Pottawatomie County western border before joining the Kansas River near Manhattan. The Delaware River originates north of the figure 2 map area and flows across the Brown County southwest corner, the Jackson County northeast corner, the Atchison County southwest corner, and into western Jefferson County before joining the Kansas River near Perry in southern Jefferson County. Rock Creek originates south of Wheaton in northern Pottawatomie County and flows in a southwest direction to Westmoreland and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to join Vermillion Creek and the Kansas River west of Belvue. Vermillion Creek originates near Corning in southern Nemaha County and flows in a south-southwest direction into Pottawatomie County to join Rock Creek and the Kansas River. Cross Creek originates in northeast Pottawatomie County near Havensville and flows south along the Pottawatomie County east edge before turning to flow in a southeast direction to join the Kansas River near Rossville in southwest Jackson County. Soldier Creek also originates near Corning in southern Nemaha County and flows in a south direction in western Jackson County before turning to flow in a southeast direction to join the Kansas River just north of Topeka. Note also east-oriented Elk Creek which originates in southeast Nemaha County and flows in a south-southeast and then east direction near Holton in Jackson County before flowing east to join the Delaware River in southwest Atchison County. South of Elk Creek are North and South Cedar Creeks, which join to form Cedar Creek, which flows in an east direction to join the Delaware River near Valley Falls. With the exception of the east-southeast oriented Kansas River major Pottawatomie and Jackson County streams and rivers are south-oriented or are tributaries to south-oriented streams or rivers. The east-southeast oriented Kansas River valley eroded headward across the figure 2 map area to capture south-oriented flood water from the north and to divert the flood water east to the newly eroded east-oriented Missouri River valley. The south-oriented Pottawatomie and Jackson County river and stream valleys and their tributary valleys were eroded headward along and across the south-oriented flood flow routes from the newly eroded and deep Kansas River valley north wall. Topographic maps below illustrate evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation.

Spring Creek-Wilson Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Spring Creek-Wilson drainage divide area east of the southwest and southeast oriented Big Blue River in Pottawatomie County. The Big Blue River flows in a southwest direction from the figure 3 north center edge area to the figure 3 west edge and then turns to flow in a southeast direction across the figure 3 southwest corner. The Big Blue River valley is flooded by Tuttle Creek Reservoir, although the reservoir does not extend beyond the valley margins. Note southeast oriented tributaries to the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment from the west and northwest oriented (barbed) tributaries from the east. The tributary orientations provide evidence the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment was eroded headward across multiple southeast oriented flood flow channels. The southeast-oriented tributary valleys were eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Big Blue River valley along captured southeast-oriented flood flow channels. The northwest-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on the northwest and north ends of southeast- and south-oriented flood flow routes beheaded by Big Blue River valley headward erosion. Westmoreland is the town located in the figure 3 southeast corner. The south-southwest oriented stream flowing next to Westmoreland is Rock Creek. Note the southeast-oriented Rock Creek tributary originating near Fostoria (southeast from the figure 3 center) and joining Rock Creek just south of the figure 3 map area. That Rock Creek tributary is Wilson Creek. Note also how the southeast-oriented Wilson Creek headwaters near Fostoria are linked to northwest-oriented headwaters of north-northwest oriented Spring Creek, which flows to the Big Blue River near the figure 3 north center edge. The alignment of northwest-oriented Spring Creek headwaters and southeast-oriented Wilson Creek headwaters is no coincidence. The southeast-oriented Wilson Creek valley was eroded by a southeast-oriented flood flow channel which was subsequently beheaded and reversed by Big Blue River valley headward erosion. The north-northwest oriented Spring Creek valley was eroded and the Spring Creek-Wilson Creek drainage divide was created by flood waters using that southeast-oriented flood flow channel. A close look at figure 3 drainage divides reveals not only alignments between north- and south-oriented tributary headwaters, but also shallow through valleys linking those present day opposing tributary valleys. The shallow through valleys are better seen on more detailed topographic maps and figures 4 and 5 below provide some examples.

Detailed map of Big Blue River-Big Blue River drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 provides a more detailed map of the Big Blue River-Big Blue River drainage divide area at the Big Blue River elbow of capture seen in less detail in figure 3 above. The flooded Big Blue River valley is located along the figure 4 west edge and is southwest-oriented in the figure 4 north half and southeast-oriented in the figure 4 south half. North-northwest and northwest oriented streams east of the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment flow to the Big Blue River as barbed tributaries north of the figure 4 map area. South-oriented streams east of the Big Blue River in the figure 4 south half flow to the southeast-oriented Big Blue River as normal tributaries south of the figure 4 map area. Figure 4 illustrates the shallow through valleys linking the north-oriented Big Blue River tributary valleys with the south-oriented Big Blue River tributary valleys. These through valleys are shallow compared to the opposing valleys on either side, but they exist and provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels across the present day Big Blue River-Big Blue River drainage divide. The south-oriented flood flow moved across the present day drainage divide prior to headward erosion of the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment. Flood waters were moving to what was then the newly eroded southeast-oriented Big Blue River valley segment and were eroding the south-oriented Big Blue River tributary valleys headward into the figure 4 map area. Headward erosion of the deep southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley then beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. These channels were beheaded one channel at a time as the Big Blue River valley eroded headward. Flood waters on newly beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north and northwest to the newly eroded southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment. Because the flood flow channels were anastomosing (or interconnected) reversed flow on newly beheaded flood flow channels captured yet to beheaded south-oriented flood waters from flood flow channels further to the east. These captures of yet to be beheaded flood flow provided the volumes of flood water required to erode the deep north-oriented valleys.

Detailed map of Bluff Creek-Rock Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 5 provides a detailed map of the Bluff Creek-Rock Creek drainage divide area near Blaine, which was seen in less detail in figure 3 above. Blaine is located in Clear Creek Township north of Westmoreland near the figure 3 east edge. Bluff Creek is located in the figure 5 northwest quadrant and flows to the figure 5 northwest corner. North and west of figure 5 Bluff Creek joins north-northwest oriented Spring Creek and flows to the southwest-oriented Big Blue River as a barbed tributary. An unnamed south-southeast oriented Rock Creek tributary originates in section 33 (in the figure 5 center area) and flows through the Pottawatomie County No 1 Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area to the figure 5 south edge. South of figure 5 the tributary joins south-southwest oriented Rock Creek, which south of Westmoreland and the figure 3 map area turns to flow in a southeast direction to join the Kansas River (see figure 2). In other words the drainage divide in section 33 between northwest-oriented Bluff Creek and the unnamed south-southeast-oriented Rock Creek tributary is the Big Blue River-Kansas River drainage divide. Note how northwest-oriented Bluff Creek headwaters in section 33 are linked by a through valley with south-southeast oriented headwaters of the unnamed Rock Creek tributary. The through valley is evidence of a southeast-oriented flood flow channel to what was then the actively eroding Rock Creek valley prior to headward erosion of the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment. Headward erosion of the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to the actively eroding unnamed south-southeast oriented Rock Creek tributary valley. Flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow in a northwest direction to the newly eroded southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment. Study of the figure 5 map area reveals several other similar north-south oriented through valleys, which provide evidence of other south-oriented flood flow channels, which headward erosion of the southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley segment beheaded.

Straight Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 illustrates the Straight Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 3 map area. Onaga is the town located in the figure 6 northwest corner. Soldier Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream near the figure 6 east edge and flows from the figure 6 north edge to the east edge (south half). Vermillion Creek is the southwest-oriented stream flowing from the figure 6 north edge to Onaga and then flowing in a south and south-southwest direction to the figure 6 southwest corner area. South of figure 6 Vermillion Creek flows in a south-southwest direction to join southeast oriented Rock Creek and then flow to the east-oriented Kansas River (see figure 2). Havensville is the town located in Grant township in the figure 6 north center area. The north and northwest oriented Vermillion Creek tributary near Havensville is Spring Creek. Straight Creek is the southwest-oriented stream flowing near Havensville to join northwest oriented Spring Creek and then to join southwest-oriented Vermillion Creek near the figure 6 north edge. Note the north and northwest oriented Straight Creek tributaries. South of Straight Creek are south-oriented Cross Creek headwaters. Cross Creek originates in Soldier Township just east of the Jackson County line and flows in a south-southeast direction and then a southwest direction to the figure 6 south edge. South of figure 6 Cross Creek turns to flow in a south and then southeast direction to the east-oriented Kansas River. The south-oriented Cross Creek tributary near the Pottawatomie County line is Big Noxie Creek and the south and south-southeast oriented Cross Creek tributary west of Big Noxie Creek is Little Noxie Creek. Figure 6 map area drainage routes evolved by headward erosion of south-oriented valley systems during an immense south-oriented flood. These south-oriented valley systems eroded headward from the north wall of the actively eroding and deep east-oriented Kansas River valley. The Soldier Creek, Cross Creek and Vermillion Creek valley systems eroded separately into the figure 6 map area in that order. Vermillion Creek valley headward erosion for reasons which cannot be determined from figure 6 map evidence eroded headward faster than the Cross Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Vermillion Creek valley captured and beheaded southeast and south oriented flood flow channels. The northwest and north oriented Vermillion Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on the northwest and north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels. The north and northwest oriented Spring Creek valley near Havensville was one of those reversed flood flow valleys. The southwest-oriented Straight Creek valley then eroded headward from that reversed flood flow channel and beheaded additional south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Cross Creek valley system. Reversals of flood flow on the north and northwest ends of the those beheaded flood flow channels eroded the north-oriented Straight Creek tributary valleys and created the present day Straight Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide.

Vermillion Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Vermillion Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 6 map area and includes significant overlap areas with figure 6. Soldier Creek is the south-southeast and south oriented stream near the figure 7 east edge and flows from the figure 7 north edge to the southeast corner. Vermillion Creek is the south, south-southwest, south, and southwest oriented stream near the figure 7 west edge and flows from the figure 7 north edge to the figure 7 southwest corner area. The Cross Creek valley system is located between the Vermillion Creek and the Soldier Creek valleys. Cross Creek is the easternmost of the Cross Creek streams in the figure 7 north center area and flows in a south-southeast and then south-southwest direction to join south-oriented Big Noxie Creek and southeast oriented Little Noxie Creek and then flow in a south and south-southeast direction to the figure 7 south center edge area. Aikins is a small town in St Clere Township just east of the figure 7 center. The northwest-oriented Vermillion Creek tributary originating near Aikins is Spring Creek and flows to south-oriented Vermillion Creek as a barbed tributary. The southeast oriented Cross Creek tributary originating near Aikins is Bartlett Creek and flows to join south-southeast oriented Cross Creek as a normal tributary. Figure 8 below provides a more detailed map of the Spring Creek-Bartlett Creek drainage divide area. Figure 7 evidence however illustrates how headward erosion of the south oriented Vermillion Creek valley beheaded a southeast-oriented flood flow channel to what was then the actively eroding Bartlett Creek-Cross Creek valley. Flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Spring Creek valley and also to create the Vermillion Creek-Cross Creek drainage divide. Evidence such as this Spring Creek-Bartlett Creek drainage divide provides the information needed to reconstruct the regional drainage history. As already mentioned the south-oriented Soldier Creek, Cross Creek, and Vermillion Creek valley systems eroded headward during an immense south- and southeast-oriented flood in sequence from the actively eroding east-oriented Kansas River valley. Headward erosion of the Vermillion Creek valley was more rapid than Cross Creek valley headward erosion and Vermillion Creek headward erosion beheaded southeast- and south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Cross Creek valley system.

Detailed map of Spring Creek-Bartlett Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Spring Creek-Bartlett 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 Spring Creek-Bartlett Creek drainage divide area near Aikins, which was seen in less detail in figure 7. Spring Creek is the northwest-oriented stream in the figure 8 northwest quadrant. The south and southeast oriented Vermillion Creek valley can be seen in the figure 8 northwest corner. Bartlett Creek flows in a south-southeast direction in the figure 8 east half and a southeast-oriented Bartlett Creek tributary flows through Aikins. Note how the southeast-oriented Bartlett Creek tributary and northwest-oriented Spring Creek are on the same northwest-southeast oriented alignment. Also note the northwest-southeast oriented through valley on that alignment in which the highway and railroad are located. The through valley floor is approximately 100 feet lower than adjacent hills (hills to the northeast are higher north of the figure 8 map area). Unlike some of the through valleys illustrated earlier this northwest-southeast oriented through valley is a large feature. Not only is it deep relative to the adjacent hill tops, but it is broad suggesting large volumes of southeast-oriented flood waters once flowed across the figure 8 map area. The figure 8 map evidence suggests flood waters originally flowed on a topographic surface at least as high the highest figure 8 elevations today (in other words on a surface at least 100 feet higher than the through valley floor). Present day valleys were eroded headward into that high level topographic surface. Headward erosion of what was then the deep Cross Creek-Bartlett Creek valley occurred first while southeast-oriented flood waters continued to flow from the northwest. At that time the south-oriented Vermillion Creek valley west of the figure 8 map area did not exist. The northwest-southeast oriented through valley was eroded prior to headward erosion of the south-oriented Vermillion Creek valley. Headward erosion of the Vermillion Creek valley beheaded the southeast-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the northwest-oriented Spring Creek valley and to create the present day Spring Creek-Bartlett Creek drainage divide. Erosion of the magnitude indicated by this figure 8 map evidence required vast quantities of water. Further, erosion of the magnitude suggested by this figure 8 evidence suggests comparable or greater erosion occurred throughout the entire Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area and the pre-flood landscape looked very different from the present day landscape.

Bills Creek-Cedar Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Bills Creek-Cedar Creek drainage divide area  south and southeast from Holton, Kansas and is located east of the figure 7 map area (there is no overlap with previous topographic maps). Holton is the town located in the figure 9 northwest corner and Valley Falls is the town located in the figure 9 southeast corner. The Delaware River flows in a south-southeast direction from the figure 9 north edge (east half) to Valley Falls and the figure 9 southeast corner. Elk Creek is an east-oriented Delaware River tributary located just north of the figure 9 map area and can just barely be seen near the figure 9 north center edge. Bills Creek is located in the figure 9 northwest quadrant and flows in a northeast direction to join Elk Creek near the figure 9 north edge. Denison is the town located in the figure 9 center area. North Cedar Creek is the southeast-oriented stream flowing through Denison to join east-northeast oriented South Cedar Creek. South Cedar Creek originates in the figure 9 southwest quadrant and flows in a southeast direction to the figure 9 south center edge before turning to flow in an east-northeast direction to join the south-oriented Delaware River near Valley Falls. A close look at figure 9 map evidence reveals through valleys linking north-oriented Bills Creek tributaries with the southeast-oriented North Cedar Creek and South Cedar Creek valleys. Figure 10 below provides a detailed map of the Bills Creek-North Cedar Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the evidence. Figure 9 evidence suggests the deep Delaware River valley eroded headward into the figure 9 map region to capture south-oriented flood water moving on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 9 elevations today. The east-northeast oriented Cedar Creek-South Cedar Creek valley segment then eroded headward to capture southeast-oriented flood flow west of the newly eroded Delaware River valley. The North and South Cedar Creek valleys eroded headward (to the northwest) from the newly eroded east-northeast oriented Cedar Creek-South Cedar Creek valley segment. Next, when headward erosion of the deep Delaware River valley had reached north of the figure 9 north edge the east-oriented Elk Creek-Bills Creek valley eroded headward (or to the west and southwest) to capture and behead south- and southeast-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded North and South Cedar Creek valleys. The north-oriented Bills Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on the north ends of beheaded flood flow routes.

Detailed map Bills Creek-North Cedar Creek drainage divide area

Figure 10: Detailed map of Bills Creek-North Cedar Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 10 provides a detailed topographic map of the Bills Creek-South Cedar Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9 above. North Cedar Creek originates near Birmingham in the figure 10 southeast quadrant and flows in an east-southeast direction to the figure 10 east edge and then in a northeast and southeast direction to the figure 10 southeast corner. Bills Creek flows in a northeast direction from the figure 10 west center edge area to the figure 10 north edge (east half). Note the north-oriented Bills Creek tributaries. In the figure 10 east half the north-oriented Bills Creek tributary valleys are linked by north-south oriented through valleys with south-oriented North Cedar Creek tributary valleys. The multiple north-south oriented through valleys provide evidence the east-southeast oriented North Cedar Creek valley eroded headward to capture south-oriented flood flow moving on numerous south-oriented flood flow channels such as might be found in a south-oriented anastomosing channel complex. Headward erosion of the northeast oriented Bills Creek valley next beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels, one channel at a time, from the east to the west. Flood waters on the north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow in a north direction to the newly eroded Bills Creek valley. This reversal of flood flow eroded the north-oriented Bills Creek tributary valleys and created the Bills Creek-North Cedar Creek drainage divide. Further west in the figure 10 map area the northeast and north oriented Bills Creek tributary flowing from the figure 10 southwest corner has a northwest-oriented tributary near the figure 10 southwest corner. That northwest-oriented tributary is on the same alignment as a southeast-oriented South Cedar Creek tributary valley located south of the figure 10 map area and provides evidence headward erosion of the Bills Creek valley also beheaded south-oriented flood flow to what was then the newly eroded south Cedar Creek valley. Prior to headward erosion of the present day valleys south-oriented flood waters flowed across the entire figure 10 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 10 elevations today. Landscapes in the figure 10 map area, like landscapes throughout the entire Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area, were deeply eroded by flood water erosion and today have no resemblance to landscapes prior to the flood erosion.

Additional information and sources of maps studied

This essay has provided only a sample of the detailed topographic map evidence supporting the flood erosion interpretation. Many additional illustrations could be provided. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of available data. Maps used in this study were created and published by the United States Geologic Survey and can be obtained directly from the United States Geological Survey and/or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories which are located throughout the United States and elsewhere. Illustrations used here were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital map data. TOPO software and map data can be obtained from the National Geographic Society and/or dealers offering National Geographic Society digital map data.

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