Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area landform origins in Pawnee County, Nebraska and Marshall and Nemaha Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

A geomorphic history based on topographic map evidence

Abstract:

The Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide in Pawnee County, Nebraska and Marshall and Nemaha Counties, Kansas was eroded by immense southeast and south oriented floods, which were probably derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet. The present day north-oriented South-Fork Big Nemaha River segment originated as a south oriented flood flow channel probably to what was then the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley. The present day Vermillion Creek valley probably eroded headward from the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley along that south oriented flood flow route. The southeast-oriented Missouri River valley north of Kansas City eroded headward from the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley east of the present day north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River alignment. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Big Nemaha River-South Fork Big Nemaha valley (north of the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley segment) beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded east-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley. At approximately the same time the south-oriented Big Blue River valley and tributary valleys eroded north and northeast from the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley. The flood flow reversal in the South Fork Big Nemaha River valley and headward erosion of Big Blue River tributary valleys beheaded all south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes to the south-oriented Vermillion Creek valley. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation is found in present day valley orientations and in through valleys eroded across present day drainage divides.

Preface:

The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is one of a series of essays describing similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored deep glacial erosion paradigm, which is fundamentally different from most commonly accepted North American glacial history interpretations. 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-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area landform origins in Pawnee County, Nebraska and Marshall and Nemaha 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-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area landform origins in Pawnee County, Nebraska and Marshall and Nemaha Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm. This essay is included in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay collection.

Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha 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 location map for the Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area in Pawnee County, Nebraska and Marshall and Nemaha Counties, Kansas. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north edge to Kansas City and then in a east-northeast direction to the figure 1 east edge. East of the Missouri River and Kansas City is the state of Missouri. West of the Missouri River, in the northern third of figure 1, is the state of Nebraska and south of Nebraska is the state of Kansas. The Kansas River flows in an east direction near the figure 1 south edge through Enterprise, Junction City, Manhattan, Topeka, and Lawrence, Kansas before joining the Missouri River at Kansas City. The Big Blue River flows in a south direction from the figure 1 north edge to Beatrice, Nebraska and Marysville and Blue Rapids, Kansas before joining the east-oriented Kansas River near Manhattan. The North Fork Big Nemaha River (unlabeled in figure 1) flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north edge to Sterling, Tecumseh, Table Rock, and Humboldt, Nebraska before joining the South Fork Big Nemaha River near Salem and forming the east-oriented Big Nemaha River, which flows to the Missouri River near the Nebraska-Kansas state line. The South Fork Big Nemaha River (also unlabeled in figure 1) begins south of Seneca, Kansas and flows in a north direction through Seneca to Du Bois, Nebraska and then turns to flow in an east direction to join the North Fork Big Nemaha River near Salem. Turkey Creek (also unlabeled in figure 1) begins between Beatrice and Pawnee City, Nebraska and flows in an east and then south direction to Pawnee City and then into Kansas. Once in Kansas Turkey Creek makes a U-turn to join the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River. Other essays address regions immediately north of this Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area. The Big Blue River-Big Nemaha River drainage divide area essay, the Little Nemaha River-Big Nemaha River drainage divide area essay, and the South Fork Big Nemaha River-Missouri River drainage divide area essay describe regions near the Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage area discussed here and can be located under Big Blue River or NE Missouri River (for Big Nemaha River) on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays published on this website provide overwhelming evidence for massive southeast and south oriented floods, which flowed across eastern Nebraska and Kansas. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet and the Missouri River valley and its tributary valley eroded headward into northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska (and beyond) to capture the south-oriented flood flow.

Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha 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 location map for the Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area. Gage, Pawnee and Richardson are Nebraska county names and the county boundaries are shown. The west to east oriented Nebraska-Kansas state line is located directly south of Gage, Pawnee, and Richardson Counties. Marshall, Nemaha, and Brown are Kansas County names. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction across the figure 2 northeast quadrant. The Big Blue River flows in a southeast direction in Gage County and then in a south direction in Marshall County and finally in a southwest direction to the figure 2 south edge. A Nebraska Big Blue River tributary of interest is southwest-oriented Plum Creek, which originates in western Pawnee County and which joins the Big Blue River near Barneston in Gage County.  A major Kansas Big Blue River tributary is Black Vermillion River, which originates near Corning in Nemaha County and flows in a northwest direction to Centralia. From Centralia it flows in a west direction to Frankfort and then in a southwest direction to join the southwest-oriented Big Blue River. Note northwest-oriented Black Vermillion River tributaries including Clear Creek and Irish Creek in Marshall County. Also originating near Corning is the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River and south-southwest oriented Vermillion Creek, which flows to the Kansas River. Note also southeast and northeast oriented Turkey Creek tributaries (South Fork Big Nemaha River tributaries) located along the Nebraska-Kansas state line. These tributaries include Johnson Creek, Pole Creek, Manley Creek, and Clear Creek. Figure 2 drainage patterns appear confusing with streams flowing in just about every direction possible. However, as the topographic maps and discussion below illustrate and describe the figure 2 drainage pattern can be explained in the context of headward erosion of deep valleys to capture an immense south- and/or southeast-oriented flood. North and northwest oriented valleys, including the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley, were eroded by flood reversals on the north and northwest ends of beheaded south and/or southeast-oriented flood flow channels. This flood interpretation requires massive volumes of flood water, but such flood water volumes would be possible if a thick North American ice sheet, located north of the figure 2 map area, rapidly melted.

Plum Creek-West Branch Turkey Creek drainage divide area

Figure 3: Plum Creek-West Branch Turkey Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 3 illustrates the Plum Creek-West Branch Turkey Creek drainage divide area in southern Nebraska. The south-southeast oriented river in the figure 3 southwest corner is the Big Blue River. The town in the figure 3 southwest corner is Barneston, Nebraska. The southwest oriented tributary flowing to the Big Blue River near Barneston is Plum Creek. Note how Plum Creek headwaters are northwest oriented and how Plum Creek has several northwest-oriented tributaries. The town located where Plum Creek turns from flowing in a northwest direction to flowing in a southwest direction is Burchard. Midway between Burchard and Barneston and located in the Plum Creek valley is Liberty. Arkeketa Creek is the southwest- and northeast-oriented tributary immediately south of Plum Creek. Wolf Creek is the southwest-oriented Big Blue River tributary north of Plum Creek. Note how Wolf Creek makes a jog to the northwest before flowing in a south-southwest direction to join the Big Blue River. Note also the southeast oriented Wolf Creek tributary in the figure 3 north center area. The southeast and east-southeast oriented stream flowing to the figure 3 southeast corner is Johnson Creek and the southeast and northeast oriented stream to the north (still in the figure 3 southeast quadrant) is the West Branch Turkey Creek. Further north, in the figure 3 northeast quadrant, Balls Branch flows in a south-southeast direction to the figure 3 east edge and joins the West Branch Turkey Creek east of the figure 3 map area. The figure 3 map area was eroded by massive south- and southeast-oriented flood flow as the Turkey Creek valley system eroded west from what was then the actively eroding and southeast-oriented Missouri River (and Big Nemaha River-South Fork Big Nemaha River) valley system and Plum Creek and Wolf Creek valleys eroded headward (northeast) from what was then the actively eroding and south-southeast oriented Big Blue River valley. The Missouri River tributaries were eroding headward into the figure 3 at approximately the same time as the Big Blue River valley and tributary valleys were being eroded headward into the region. Evidence for headward erosion of the deep valleys is best seen in detailed topographic maps of present day drainage divide areas. Figure 3a below provides a detailed map of the Plum Creek-Arkekta Creek drainage divide area and illustrates numerous shallow north-south oriented through valleys crossing that drainage divide. The through valleys are evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels beheaded by headward erosion of the southwest-oriented Plum Creek valley. North and northwest oriented Plum Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on beheaded south- and southeast-oriented flood flow channels.

Figure 3a: Detailed map of Plum Creek-Arkeketa Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

North Elm Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 illustrates the North Elm Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 3 map area. The west to east oriented Nebraska-Kansas state line is located near the figure 4 north edge. The Big Blue River in the figure 4 west half flows in a south-southwest direction from the figure 4 north edge to the figure 4 south edge. Note northwest-oriented tributaries from the east to the south-southwest oriented Big Blue River. Deer Creek is the south-oriented Big Blue River tributary located west of the Big Blue River. Note southeast oriented tributaries from the west to south-oriented Deer Creek and Big Blue River. The southeast and northwest oriented tributaries are evidence the Big Blue River valley eroded headward across multiple southeast oriented flood flow channels. Northwest-oriented tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on northwest ends of beheaded southeast oriented flood flow channels. Beattie, Kansas is the town located in the figure 4 southeast corner. Robidoux Creek is the southwest and south oriented stream at Beattie. South of figure 4 Robidoux Creek flows to Black Vermillion River, which flows to the Big Blue River. Murdock Creek is the northwest-oriented stream in the figure 4 northeast corner and flows to southeast- and northeast-oriented Mission Creek, which joins the Big Blue River just north of the figure 4 map area. Note north and northwest oriented Mission Creek tributaries. Those tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north and northwest ends of beheaded south- and southeast-oriented flood flow channels. The northwest-oriented Big Blue River tributary in Balderson Township is North Elm Creek. The southwest and south oriented stream in Franklin Township is Spring Creek. South of figure 4 Spring Creek turns to flow in a west direction to join the Big Blue River (see figure 5). The North Elm Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide area illustrates how headward erosion of south-southwest-oriented Big Blue River valley beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow channels. Prior to Big Blue River valley headward erosion southeast-oriented flood flow moved across the entire figure 4 map area on a topographic surface at least as high the highest figure 4 elevations today. Headward erosion of the Big Blue River (south of the figure 4 map area) enabled the Spring Creek valley to erode east, north, and northeast to capture yet to be beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow. As headward erosion of the Big Blue River valley reached the figure 4 north edge area it beheaded all southeast-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the actively eroding Spring Creek valley. Flood waters on the northwest ends of the beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow in a northwest direction to the newly eroded south-oriented Big Blue River valley. The reversed flood flow eroded the northwest-oriented North Elm Creek valley and created the North Elm Creek-Spring Creek drainage divide.

Schell Creek-Elm Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 5 illustrates the Schell Creek-Elm Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 4 map area. Marysville, Kansas is the town located in the figure 5 northwest corner. Frankfort is the town in the figure 5 southeast corner. The Big Blue River flows in a south direction from Marysville along the figure 5 west edge to the figure 5 southwest corner. Spring Creek is the south-oriented stream in the figure 5 north center area, which turns near Upland to flow in a west direction to join the Big Blue River near Marysville. Schell Creek is the north and northwest oriented Spring Creek tributary located in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. South of the Schell Creek headwaters is south-southwest oriented Elm Creek, which joins the Big Blue River south of the figure 5 map area. Note the north-south oriented through valley linking the north and northwest oriented Schell Creek valley with the south-oriented Elm Creek valley. The through valley is evidence of a significant south-oriented flood flow route to what was then the actively eroding south-oriented Elm Creek valley. Headward erosion of the south-oriented Big Blue River valley beheaded the southeast and south oriented flood flow channel to the actively eroding Elm Creek valley. Flood waters on the north and northwest ends of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow north and northwest to the newly eroded south-oriented Big Blue River valley. The reversal of flood flow was responsible for eroding the north- and northwest oriented Schell Creek valley and creating the Schell Creek-Elm Creek drainage divide. Further east in figure 5 south oriented Ribidoux Creek is the south oriented flowing from the figure 5 north edge to the figure 5 south edge near Frankfort. At Frankfort Ribidoux Creek joins the Black Vermillion River, which flows in a southwest direction to join the south-oriented Big Blue River. Note the drainage divide between the northwest-oriented valley near Upland (draining to west-oriented Spring Creek) and the southeast-oriented Ribidoux Creek tributary near Winifred. The railroad line is located in a through valley eroded across that drainage divide. Figure 5a below provides a detailed map of that drainage divide. Note the numerous shallow through valleys providing evidence of southeast-oriented flood flow across the figure 5a map area to the south-oriented Ribidoux Creek valley (located east of the figure 5a map area) prior to the flood flow reversal that eroded the west-oriented Spring Creek and tributary valley. That reversal of flow was caused by Big Blue River valley headward erosion.

Figure 5a: Detailed map of Spring Creek-Ribidoux Creek drainage divide area southeast of Upland. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Irish Creek-Clear Fork drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 illustrates the Irish Creek-Clear Fork drainage divide area south and east of the figure 5 map area (the figure 6 northwest corner overlaps with the figure 5 southeast corner). Frankfort is the town located in the figure 6 northwest corner area. Ribidoux Creek flows in a south direction in the figure 6 northwest corner to join southwest-oriented Black Vermillion River, which flows to the figure 6 west center edge and then to the south oriented Big Blue River. West of Frankfort the Black Vermillion River flows in an east direction from the figure 6 northeast corner to the figure 6 north center edge area before turning to flow in a southwest direction to Frankfort and then to the figure 6 west edge. Vermillion is the town located between the Black Vermillion River and the figure 6 north edge. Irish Creek is the northwest-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary flowing from the figure 6 south center edge to join the Black Vermillion River near Frankfort. Clear Fork is the northwest-oriented stream in the figure 6 southwest quadrant flowing to join the southwest-oriented Black Vermillion River west of the figure 6 map area. Note other northwest-oriented Black Vermillion River tributaries in the figure 6 west half. Black Vermillion River tributaries in the figure 6 northeast quadrant are north and northeast oriented. The southwest-oriented drainage system in the figure 6 southeast quadrant south of figure 6 turns to flow in a southeast direction to join south and south-southwest oriented Vermillion Creek, which flows to the east-oriented Kansas River. Northwest-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow in southeast-oriented flood flow channels beheaded by Black Vermillion River valley headward erosion. North-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary valleys were likewise eroded by reversals of flood flow on the north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels. Northeast-oriented headwaters of some of these north oriented valleys may have been eroded headward first as southwest-oriented flood flow channels and then were reversed when Black Vermillion River valley headward erosion beheaded the south- and southeast-oriented flood flow routes to the southwest-oriented flood flow channels. If so, volumes of flood water involved were immense and the valleys were eroded rapidly. Figure 6a below provides a detailed map of the Black Vermillion River-Kearney Branch (Irish Creek) drainage divide south of Vermillion and east of the figure 6 center area. North-oriented drainage along the figure 6a north edge flows to the Black Vermillion River. The northeast-oriented stream in the figure 6a northeast corner is the northeast-oriented headwaters of a north oriented Black Vermillion River tributary. Southwest-oriented Kearney Branch flows to northwest-oriented Irish Creek. Note through valleys linking the north- and northeast-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary valleys with the southwest oriented Kearney Branch valley. These through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Kearney Branch valley prior to the reversals of flood flow that eroded the north-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary valleys and created the drainage divide.

Figure 6a: Black Vermillion River-Kearney Branch drainage divide south of Vermillion. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Black Vermillion River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Black Vermillion River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide area east of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Centralia is the town located just west of the figure 7 north center edge area. Corning is the town located in the figure 7 east center area. The Black Vermillion River flows in a northwest direction to Centralia and then in a west direction to the figure 7 west edge. As seen in previous figures west of the figure 7 map area the Black Vermillion River flows in a southwest direction to join the south-southwest oriented Big Blue River, which flows to the east-oriented Kansas River.  The north oriented stream originating near Corning and flowing to the figure 7 north edge is the South Fork Big Nemaha River. As seen in figure 2 north of the figure 7 map area the South Fork Big Nemaha River flows in a north direction to the Nebraska border and then turns to flow in an east-northeast and east direction to join the east-oriented North Fork Big Nemaha River and then to flow to the southeast-oriented Missouri River. The southwest and south oriented stream originating just south of Corning is Vermillion Creek. South of the figure 7 map area Vermillion Creek flows in a south-southwest direction to the east-oriented Kansas River. Southwest-oriented drainage in the figure 7 southwest quadrant turns to flow in a southeast direction just south of figure 7 map area and joins Vermillion Creek. A close look at the figure 7 map area reveals numerous shallow north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Black Vermillion River tributaries and the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River with the south-oriented Vermillion Creek headwaters and tributaries. These through valleys are better seen on more detailed topographic maps and figure 8 below provides a detailed map of the South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide area near Corning. The through valleys are evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels that moved flood waters across the figure 7 map area to what was then the actively eroding Vermillion Creek valley (and tributary valleys). Headward erosion of the east-oriented Big Nemaha River-South-Fork Big Nemaha River valley (from what was then the actively eroding Missouri River valley) beheaded south-oriented flood flow through the Corning area. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to erode the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley and to create the South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide. At approximately the same time headward erosion of the Big Blue River valley and its southwest and west oriented Black Vermillion River valley beheaded south- and southeast-oriented flood flow channels further to west in figure 7. The resulting flood flow reversals eroded the north- and northeast-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary valleys and created the Black Vermillion River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide.

Detailed map of South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion 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 South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide at Corning, Kansas, seen in less detail in figure 7 above. The north-oriented drainage system north of Corning is the South Fork Big Nemaha River, which flows north from Corning to the Nebraska state line. Once in Nebraska the South Fork Big Nemaha River turns to flow in a northeast and east direction. South of Corning in the figure 8 southeast quadrant is southwest-oriented Vermillion Creek. Note the south-oriented Vermillion Creek tributary on the same north-south alignment as the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley. Also note the north-south oriented through valley at Corning linking the north oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley with the south-oriented Vermillion Creek tributary valley. The valley alignments and the through valley are evidence of a south-oriented flood flow channel that once moved large quantities of south-oriented flood water to what was then the actively eroding Vermillion Creek drainage basin. Headward erosion of the east and northeast oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley (from the newly eroded southeast-oriented Missouri River valley) beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded northeast and east oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley. The flood flow reversal eroded the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley segment and also created the present day South Fork Big Nemaha River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide. Further west in figure 8 the northwest-oriented drainage routes in the figure 8 northwest quadrant are headwaters of Black Vermillion River. South and southeast oriented drainage in the figure 8 southwest quadrant flows to the southwest and south-southwest oriented Vermillion Creek valley. Note shallow northwest-southeast oriented through valleys linking the northwest oriented Black Vermillion River headwaters valleys with the south oriented Vermillion Creek valleys. These through valleys are evidence of southeast oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Vermillion Creek drainage system. Headward erosion of the Big Blue River-Black Vermillion River valley beheaded and reversed the southeast oriented flood flow channels, eroding the present day northwest-oriented Black Vermillion River tributary and headwaters valleys and creating the present day Black Vermillion River-Vermillion Creek drainage divide.

South Fork Big Nemaha River-North Fork Black Vermillion River drainage divide area

Figure 9: South Fork Big Nemaha River-North Fork Black Vermillion River drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 9 illustrates the South Fork Big Nemaha River-North Fork Black Vermillion River drainage divide area located north of figure 7 map area. The north-oriented stream located near the figure 9 east edge is the South Fork Big Nemaha River. Seneca, Kansas is the town located in the figure 9 east center area. The southeast and east oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River tributary with a northeast-oriented South Fork, located northwest from Seneca, is Wildcat Creek. Baileyville is the small town located in the figure 9 center. The southeast, south-southeast, and southwest oriented stream just west of Baileyville is the North Fork Black Vermillion River, which flows to the figure 9 south edge and then flows to join the Black Vermillion River, which as previously seen flows to the Big Blue River. Note other southeast oriented North Fork tributaries. The southeast oriented North Fork tributaries and headwaters provide evidence the southwest-oriented North Fork valley eroded headward across multiple southeast oriented flood flow channels. South and south-southwest oriented drainage along the figure 9 west edge generally flows to south-oriented Ribidoux Creek, which flows to the Black Vermillion River near Frankfort (southwest from where the North Fork joins the Black Vermillion River). Figure 9 evidence suggests headward erosion of the south-oriented Ribidoux Creek valley beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded southwest-oriented North Fork Black Vermillion River valley. The southeast- and northeast-oriented stream located just west of the figure 9 north center edge area is Clear Creek, which north of the figure 9 map area flows to Turkey Creek, which in turn flows to the South Fork Big Nemaha River. Note north-northwest oriented Negro Creek in the figure 9 north center area, which flows to northeast-oriented Clear Creek. Note how the north-northwest oriented Negro Creek valley is linked by a through valley with a south-southeast oriented North Fork Black Vermillion River tributary valley in Marion Township (north from Baileyville). The north-northwest to south-southeast oriented through valley was eroded by south-southeast oriented flood flow prior to headward erosion of Clear Creek valley, which eroded headward from the Turkey Creek and South Fork Big Nemaha River valleys. In other words, headward erosion of the Turkey Creek valley and its tributary valleys beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded North Fork Black Vermillion River valley. The north-northwest oriented Negro Creek valley was eroded by a reversal of flood flow in the beheaded south-southeast oriented flood flow channel.

Johnson Creek-Pole Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 illustrates the Johnson Creek-Pole Creek drainage divide area north of the figure 9 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 9. Johnson Creek flows in a southeast and east direction from the figure 10 northwest corner to join south and east oriented Turkey Creek, which east of the figure 10 map area joins the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River. South of Johnson Creek is the west to east oriented Nebraska-Kansas state line. Wildcat Creek is a southeast and north oriented Johnson Creek tributary which flows across the state line from Nebraska into Kansas and then back into Nebraska. South of Wildcat Creek is southeast, northeast, and east oriented Pole Creek, which also flows to Turkey Creek. Manley Creek is the southeast and northeast oriented Pole Creek tributary located south of the southeast oriented Pole Creek segment. South of Manley Creek is southeast and northeast oriented Clear Creek, which flows to the east-oriented Turkey Creek segment. Note north oriented Negro Creek in the figure 10 south center area, which flows to northeast-oriented Clear Creek. East of south and east oriented Turkey Creek is southeast-oriented Burger Creek, which flows to east-oriented Turkey Creek, and southeast oriented Negro Branch and Long Branch, both of which flow to the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River. The south and east oriented Turkey Creek valley probably originated as a south-oriented flood flow channel while flood waters were still flowing south on the present day north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley alignment. Headward erosion of the south-oriented Turkey Creek valley beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to what were then the actively eroding southeast-oriented Burger Creek, Negro Branch, and Long Branch valleys. It is possible the northeast-oriented Clear Creek, Pole Creek, and Johnson Creek valley segments eroded headward from that earlier south-oriented Turkey Creek-South Fork Big Nemaha River flood flow channel, before the reversal of flood flow that created the north-oriented South Fork Big Nemaha River valley. Whenever the Turkey Creek tributary valleys eroded headward it was to capture southeast-oriented flood flow channels. The northeast-oriented Clear Creek valley eroded headward first and beheaded south-oriented flood flow on what is now the north-oriented Negro Creek alignment and then captured southeast-oriented flood flow along the present day southeast-oriented Clear Creek alignment. Next the Pole Creek Creek-Manley Creek valley captured southeast-oriented further to the north and beheaded flood flow routes to the newly eroded Clear Creek valley. Finally headward erosion of the east-oriented Johnson Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow on the present day north-oriented Wildcat Creek alignment and captured southeast-oriented flood flow on the southeast-oriented Wildcat Creek alignment and the southeast-oriented Johnson Creek alignment.

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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