Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties, Kansas, USA

Authors

A geomorphic history based on topographic map evidence

Abstract:

Topographic map interpretation methods are used to determined that the Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties, Kansas was eroded by massive southeast and south oriented floods at the time the Missouri River and Delaware River valleys and their tributary valleys eroded headward into the region. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet located to the north and northwest. Topographic map evidence supporting this immense southeast and south oriented flood origin interpretation includes orientations of present day valleys and through valleys crossing present day drainage divides. Barbed tributaries to major southeast-oriented valleys can be explained by reversals of flood flow on north ends of south-oriented flood flow channels. Map evidence suggests the south-southeast oriented Missouri River, Stranger Creek, and Delaware River valleys all eroded headward into the Atchison, Brown, and Doniphan County area at approximately the same time.

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  Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison 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 Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area landform origins in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties, Kansas will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Delaware River-Missouri 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 Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties location map. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 north center edge to Kansas City and then in an east direction to the figure 1 east edge. East of the southeast-oriented Missouri River and the state line extending south from Kansas City is the state of Missouri. West of the Missouri River along the figure 1 north edge is Nebraska. South of Nebraska and occupying most of the figure 1 west half is Kansas. The Kansas River flows in an east-oriented direction from the figure 1 west edge through Junction City, Manhattan, Wamego, St. Marys, Topeka, and Lawrence before joining the Missouri River at Kansas City. The (unlabeled in figure 1) south oriented Big Blue River flows from the figure 1 northwest corner (in Nebraska) to join the east-oriented Kansas River near Manhattan. The Delaware River is an unlabeled south-southeast oriented stream on figure 1 located between the south oriented Big Blue River and the southeast oriented Missouri River. The Delaware River begins near Sabetha and flows near Fairview, Muscotah, and Valley Falls before joining the east-oriented Kansas River near Perry. The Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area studied in this essay is located west of Atchison, Kansas, east of the Delaware River, south of west to east oriented highway 35, and north of west to east oriented highway 16. The South Fork Nemaha River-Missouri River drainage divide area, the Big Blue River-Big Nemaha River drainage divide area and the Little Nemaha River-Big Nemaha River drainage divide area essays have described regions located north of the Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area investigated here and can be found under NE Missouri 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 immense south and southeast oriented flood waters, probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet, which flowed across Nebraska and Kansas prior to headward erosion of the Missouri River valley and its tributary valleys. The east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley eroded headward from the south oriented Mississippi River valley (east of the figure 1 map area) to capture this massive south and southeast oriented flood flow. The southeast-oriented Missouri River valley north of Kansas City was one of many southeast-oriented valleys which eroded north and west from this newly eroded east oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley to capture south- and southeast-oriented flood flow. The south-southeast oriented Delaware River valley was another valley which eroded headward from the newly eroded east oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley to capture south and southeast oriented flood flow. Flood flow to what was the actively eroding the Delaware River valley was beheaded by headward erosion of the southeast oriented Big Nemaha River valley from the actively eroding Missouri River valley (the unlabeled Big Nemaha River joins the Missouri River near the Nebraska-Kansas state line). North-oriented Big Nemaha River tributary valleys were eroded by flood flow reversals on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels.

Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Delaware River-Missouri 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 location map for the Delaware River-Missouri River drainage divide area in Brown, Doniphan, and Atchison Counties, Kansas. Brown, Doniphan, Jackson, and Atchison are Kansas county names and the county boundaries are shown. Andrew and Buchanan are Missouri county names. The Missouri River, which forms the Kansas-Missouri state boundary flows in a southeast direction from the figure 2 north center edge to St Joseph and then in a south-southwest direction to Atchison, Kansas before turning to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 2 south edge. The Delaware River originates near Sabetha (located in the figure 2 northwest corner area) and flows in a south-southeast direction across the Brown County southwest corner, the Jackson County northeast corner, and along the Atchison County west boundary to reach the figure 2 south edge. This essay is concerned with the region south of the Wolf River, which originates in Brown County and flows east into Doniphan County before turning to flow north to Sparks and to join the southeast oriented Missouri River as a barbed tributary. The South Fork Big Nemaha River-Missouri River drainage divide area essay (see essays listed under NE Missouri River on sidebar category list) illustrated evidence in the area north of the of Wolf River valley, including the north-oriented Wolf River valley. This essay is concerned with Wolf River drainage divides with southeast oriented Missouri River tributaries and southwest-oriented Delaware River tributaries. Streams of particular interest include Independence Creek (located along the Doniphan County-Atchison County boundary) and Stranger Creek (unlabeled southeast oriented stream in Atchison County flowing through Farmington, Hawthorne, and Potter). Delaware River tributaries of particular interest are south-southeast oriented Little Delaware River (unlabeled tributary joining the Delaware River near Horton) and southwest oriented Little Grasshopper Creek (unlabeled tributary joining the Delaware River near Muscotah). Evidence presented in the following map illustrations and discussions suggests prior to headward erosion of present day figure 2 valley systems an immense southeast and/or south oriented flood flowed across the entire figure 2 map area in what was probably a large-scale anastomosing channel complex eroded into a topographic surface higher than the highest figure 2 elevations today. Headward erosion of the south oriented Missouri River, Stranger Creek, and Delaware River valleys and their tributary valleys captured south and southeast oriented flood flow in the figure 2 map area. Headward erosion of the east-oriented Wolf River valley beheaded southeast and south oriented flood flow to many of the figure 2 south-oriented Missouri River, Stranger Creek, and Delaware River tributaries. Headward erosion of the Big Nemaha River valley (along the figure 2 north edge) next beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the Wolf River and Delaware River valleys.

Wolf River-Independence Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Wolf River-Independence Creek drainage divide area. The Wolf River is located near the figure 3 north edge in the figure 3 northeast quadrant and flows in a southeast direction from the figure 3 north edge to Severance and then in a northeast direction to the figure 3 north edge (and then flows north to join the southeast oriented Missouri River as a barbed tributary). The southeast oriented North Branch Independence Creek originates near Denton in the figure 3 northeast quadrant (south of the Wolf River) and joins Independence Creek, which then flows in a southeast direction to the figure 3 east edge (south half). Independence Creek originates near Purcell (located southeast of the figure 3 center) and flows in a southeast direction to join a north-oriented tributary near the figure 3 south edge and then to flow in a north-northeast direction to the join the southeast oriented North Branch and to flow in a southeast direction to the figure 3 east edge. East of figure 3 Independence Creek continues to flow in a southeast direction to join the south-southwest oriented Missouri River (north of Atchison). Further west in figure 3 Horton is the larger town near the west edge. The Little Delaware River is the south-southeast oriented stream flowing from Horton to the figure 3 south edge. The south-southeast oriented Delaware River is located west of the figure 3 map area and south of the figure map area the Little Delaware River joins the Delaware River. Mission Creek is the south-oriented Little Delaware River tributary at Horton. In the figure 3 northwest quadrant is the southeast and northeast oriented Middle Fork Wolf River, which joins the Wolf River north of the figure 3 map area. East of the Middle Fork is north-northeast oriented Buttermilk Creek and east of Buttermilk Creek is northwest and north oriented South Fork Wolf River. Note how northwest-oriented South Fork headwaters originate near Purcell, northwest of where the southeast oriented Independence Creek headwaters originate. The figure 3 landscape seen today was eroded by south and southeast oriented flood waters that initially flowed across the entire figure 3 map area on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 3 elevations today. The deep southeast-oriented Independence Creek-North Branch Independence Creek valley was probably the first of the present day deep valleys to erode headward into the region (flood waters had eroded shallower south- and southeast-oriented anastomosing channels into the earlier higher level topographic surface). The northeast-oriented Independence Creek valley segment eroded headward from that deep southeast-oriented Independence Creek valley and captured the southeast-oriented flood flow channel which now serves as the Independence Creek headwaters and also beheaded a south-oriented flood flow route. Flood waters on the north end of that beheaded flood flow route reversed flow direction to erode a north-oriented Independence Creek tributary valley (mostly south of the figure 3 map area). At about the same time the Delaware River-Little Delaware River valley eroded headward into the region. Next headward erosion of Wolf River valley and its northeast-oriented tributary valleys beheaded the south- and southeast-oriented flood flow channels to the newly eroded Independence Creek and Little Delaware River valleys. Flood waters on the north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode north-oriented Wolf River tributary valleys.

Detailed map of Wolf River-North Branch Independence Creek drainage divide area

Figure 4: Detailed map of Wolf River-North Branch Independence 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 Wolf River-North Branch Independence Creek drainage divide area near Denton. The North Branch Independence Creek flows in a southeast direction in the figure 4 southwest corner (south of Denton) to the figure 4 south edge. South oriented drainage in the figure 4 south half is flowing to the southeast-oriented North Branch Independence Creek valley. North-oriented drainage in section 35 flows north to join the east and northeast oriented Wolf River near Severance (north of the figure 4 map area). The northwest-oriented Ryan Branch in sections 31 and 32 north of figure 4 joins north-oriented Cold Springs Creek, which flows to the northeast-oriented Wolf River. Note the north-south oriented through valleys linking the north-oriented Wolf River tributary valley with a south-oriented North Branch Independence Creek tributary valley. Also note the north-south through valley along the section 31 and section 6 boundary linking a north-oriented Ryan Branch tributary valley with a south-oriented North Branch Independence Creek tributary valley. These through valleys (and many other through valleys like them in the figure 3 map area) provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels prior to headward erosion of the east and northeast oriented Wolf River valley to the north of the figure 4 map area. Flood waters were flowing south to the newly eroded southeast-oriented North Branch Independence Creek-Independence Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding and deep Missouri River valley head. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley head then permitted the deep Wolf River valley to erode headward across the region north of figure 4. Headward erosion of the deep Wolf River beheaded the south oriented flood flow channels to what were then actively eroding south oriented North Branch Independence Creek tributary valleys. Flood waters on the north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to erode the north oriented Wolf River tributary valleys and to create the Wolf River-Independence Creek drainage divide.

Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 5 illustrates the Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Horton is the town located in the figure 5 northwest corner. Muscotah is the town near the figure 5 southwest corner. Effingham is the town along the figure 5 south center edge and Monrovia is located east of Effingham, also along the figure 5 south edge. Lancaster is the somewhat larger town located in the figure 5 southeast quadrant. The Little Delaware River flows south along the figure 5 west edge from Horton to Muscotah where it joins the south-southeast oriented Delaware River (and southwest-oriented Little Grasshopper Creek). Independence Creek headwaters are located in the figure 5 northeast quadrant. Stranger Creek is the southeast-oriented stream flowing to the figure 5 south edge at Monrovia. South of figure 5 Stranger Creek flows in a southeast and south direction to eventually join the east oriented Kansas River. Camp Creek is the southeast oriented stream located southeast from Lancaster. Camp Creek is a Stranger Creek tributary and joins Stranger Creek southeast of the figure 5 map area. What has happened in the figure 5 map area is prior to headward erosion of the present day deep valleys south and southeast oriented flood water flowed across the entire figure 5 map area and was probably flowing to what was then the newly eroded east oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley located south of the figure 5 map area. Southeast and south-southeast oriented valleys then began to erode headward from the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley. East of the figure 5 map area the south-southeast oriented Missouri River valley and its tributary valleys eroded headward while a bit further west the Stranger Creek valley eroded north and northwest. Still further west the Delaware River valley eroded north-northwest from that east-oriented Kansas River-Missouri River valley. Probably headward erosion of the south, south-southeast, and southeast oriented valleys occurred in sequence as the Missouri River-Kansas River valley eroded west. The south, south-southeast, and southeast oriented valleys eroded headward at different rates and in the case of figure 5 the Delaware River-Little Grasshopper Creek valley was able to erode headward to capture the southeast-oriented flood flow that was eroding the Stranger Creek valley. Evidence for that capture can be seen in figure 5 where a northwest-southeast oriented through valley links the Little Grasshopper Creek valley with the southeast-oriented Stranger Creek valley head. Figure 6 below provides a more detailed map of the Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area.

Detailed map of Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 6 provides a more detailed map of the Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Little Grasshopper Creek flows in a southwest direction in the figure 6 northwest quadrant from the figure 6 north edge to the figure 6 west edge. Stranger Creek is the southeast oriented (wooded) stream flowing to the figure 6 south center edge. Note how a southwest oriented Stranger Creek tributary valley originates in section 25 in the figure 6 northeast quadrant and drains across section 35 to the southeast-oriented Stranger Creek valley. Also notice how the southwest-oriented Little Grasshopper Creek has south and north oriented tributary valleys. Further, note south oriented Stranger Creek tributary valleys draining to the figure 6 south edge (on both sides of the southeast oriented Stranger Creek valley). A close study of the northeast-southwest oriented Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide in figure 6 reveals numerous shallow through valleys linking north-oriented Little Grasshopper Creek tributary valleys with south oriented Stranger Creek tributary valleys. These through valleys are not spectacular, but they exist and are evidence of multiple south and southeast oriented flood flow channels that once moved flood waters to what was the actively eroding southeast-oriented Stranger Creek valley. At the time flood waters flowed across the present day drainage divide the southwest-oriented Little Grasshopper Creek valley did not exist. Headward erosion of the southwest oriented Little Grasshopper Creek valley from what was then the newly eroded south-southeast oriented Delaware River valley beheaded the south and southeast oriented flood flow channels to the actively eroding Stranger Creek valley head. Flood waters on the north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded southwest-oriented Little Grasshopper Creek valley. The flood flow reversal eroded the north oriented Little Grasshopper Creek tributary valleys and created the Little Grasshopper Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide.

Deer Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Deer Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area east and south of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. The south oriented Missouri River is located near the figure 7 east edge and just east of Atchison. Deer Creek is the southeast and northeast oriented stream located northwest from Atchison and flowing to the figure 7 north edge (east half). North of figure 7 northeast-oriented Deer Creek joins the south-oriented Missouri River as a barbed tributary at approximately the same point where southeast oriented Independence Creek joins the Missouri River. North-oriented drainage north of Lancaster in the figure 7 northwest quadrant flows to Independence Creek. Stranger Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 7 west center edge to Monrovia, Farmington, and Hawthorne before crossing the figure 7 south center edge. South of figure 7 Stranger Creek flows in a south direction to join the east-oriented Kansas River, which joins the Missouri River at Kansas City. Camp Creek is the southeast-oriented stream originating near Lancaster and flowing to join Stranger Creek near Hawthorne. White Clay Creek is the northeast-oriented stream following the highway and railroad from near Parnell (north of Hawthorne) to Atchison, where it joins the south oriented Missouri River as a barbed tributary. Walnut Creek is the east-southeast oriented Missouri River tributary in the figure 7 southeast quadrant. A close look at figure 7 reveals linkages or shallow through valleys between north-oriented Missouri River tributaries and the southeast and south oriented Stranger Creek valley. Figure 8 below provides a detailed map of the White Clay Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area near Parnell, but similar linkages can be found elsewhere on figure 7. For example, east of Lancaster north-south through valleys link the north-oriented Independence Creek tributaries with the south-oriented Camp Creek valley. Or, near Shannon (between Lancaster and Atchison) north-south oriented through valleys link northeast-oriented Deer Creek headwaters valleys with a south-oriented Camp Creek tributary valleys. These through valleys provide evidence headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley and its tributary valleys beheaded multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Stranger Creek valley. Evidence provided in figures 5, 6, and 7 suggests headward erosion of the Stranger Creek valley was halted by headward erosion Missouri River valley and its tributary valleys on the east and by headward erosion of the Delaware River valley and its tributary valleys on the west.

Detailed map of White Clay Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of White Clay Creek-Stranger 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 White Clay Creek-Stranger Creek drainage divide area near Parnell, which was seen in less detail in figure 7 above. White Clay Creek is the northeast-oriented stream originating near Parnell (located in the figure 8 center) and flowing to the figure 8 north edge. The highway and two railroad lines make use of the White Clay Creek valley between Parnell and Atchison, which is located north of the figure 8 map area. Stranger Creek can just barely be seen flowing in a southeast direction across the figure 8 southwest corner. Camp Creek flows from the figure 8 west edge (west of Camp Creek Church in the figure 8 northwest corner area) in a southeast and south direction to join Stranger Creek just south of the figure 8 southwest corner area. An unnamed south-oriented Stranger Creek tributary flows south from Parnell to join Stranger Creek south of the figure 8 map area. Walnut Creek is the east-oriented stream flowing to the figure 8 east center edge. The north-south oriented through valley at Parnell is the most obvious of many north-south oriented through valleys linking various present day drainage basins. In the case of the through valley at Parnell it links the northeast-oriented White Clay Creek valley, which flows to the south-oriented Missouri River valley, with the south-oriented Stranger Creek valley, which flows to the east-oriented Kansas River. The through valley provides evidence of south-oriented flood flow from what is today the deep south-oriented Missouri River valley to the south-oriented Stranger Creek valley. Refer back to figure 1 and 2 to note how the Missouri River valley north of Atchison is oriented in a southwest direction. The northeast-oriented White Clay Creek valley is on that same alignment, which suggests southwest-oriented flood flow once moved to what was then the actively eroding south-oriented Stranger Creek valley. The flood flow movement was prior to headward erosion of the south-oriented Missouri River valley, which beheaded the southwest-oriented flood flow channel. Flood waters on the north-northeast end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow in a northeast direction to the newly eroded and deeper Missouri River valley.

Little Stranger Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Stranger Creek-Delaware River drainage divide area south and west of the figure 7 map area and south of the figure 5 map area (and includes overlap areas with both figures 5 and 7). Muscotah is the town located in the figure 9 northwest corner. The Delaware River flows south along the figure 9 west edge and then south-southeast to the figure 9 south edge. South Creek is the northwest oriented Delaware River tributary joining the Delaware River as a barbed tributary near Muscotah. Coal Creek is the south-oriented Delaware River tributary in the figure 9 west half. Note how northwest oriented South Creek headwaters are linked by shallow through valleys with south-oriented Coal Creek headwaters. The shallow through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow along the South Creek-Coal Creek channel alignment prior to Delaware River valley headward erosion. Headward erosion of the deeper Delaware River valley beheaded the South Creek-Coal Creek flood flow channel and reversed flood flow on the northwest end of the beheaded flood flow channel. Effingham is the town in the figure 9 north center and Monrovia is located east of Effingham. Stranger Creek flows in a southeast direction from the figure 9 north center edge to Monrovia, Farmington, and Hawthorne before reaching the figure 9 east center edge. Note Parnell is located north of Hawthorne near the figure 9 east edge (north half). Crooked Creek is the northeast oriented stream flowing to join Stranger Creek near the figure 9 east center edge. Nortonville is the figure 9 largest town and is located on the Crooked Creek-Delaware River drainage divide almost directly south of Monrovia. Walnut Creek is the northwest and southwest oriented Delaware River tributary located near the figure 9 south edge (and southwest from Nortonville). Little Stranger Creek is the north oriented stream originating near Nortonville and joining Stranger Creek near Monrovia. Stranger Creek and the Delaware River today flow in separate south-southeast oriented valleys to join the east-oriented Kansas River south of the figure 9 map area. Note how the north-oriented Little Stranger Creek valley is linked by shallow through valleys near Nortonville with southwest-oriented Walnut Creek. This evidence suggests that prior to headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Stranger Creek valley at Monrovia south-oriented flood flow moved along the Little Stranger Creek alignment to what was then the actively eroding Walnut Creek valley, which was eroding headward from the newly eroded Delaware River valley. Headward erosion of the Stranger Creek beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels and flood waters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Stranger Creek valley and to erode the north-oriented Little Stranger Creek valley.

Detailed map of Little Stranger Creek-Walnut Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 provides a detailed map of the north-oriented Little Stranger Creek and southwest-oriented Walnut Creek drainage divide area near Nortonville, which was seen in less detail in figure 9 above. Little Stranger Creek headwaters are located in the north oriented wooded valley draining to the figure 10 north center edge, although other figure 10 north oriented valleys also drain to north oriented Little Stranger Creek. Walnut Creek is the southwest-oriented stream flowing to the figure 10 southwest corner. The southwest oriented stream further east near the figure 10 south center area is the Johannes Branch, which is a Walnut Creek tributary. Note how multiple shallow north-south oriented through valleys link the north-oriented Little Stranger Creek headwaters valleys with the southwest-oriented Walnut Creek headwaters valleys. The through valleys were eroded by multiple south oriented flood flow channels moving flood waters to what was then the actively eroding Walnut Creek valley, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Delaware River valley. Headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Stranger Creek valley north of the figure 10 map area beheaded the south-oriented flood flow. Flood waters on the north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north and to erode the north-oriented Little Stranger Creek valley and tributary valleys. Interestingly in figures 5 and 6 evidence was illustrated showing that the Delaware River-Little Grasshopper Creek valley beheaded flood flow to the Stranger Creek valley. The fact Stranger Creek valley headward erosion in figure 10 has beheaded south-oriented flood flow to an actively eroding Delaware River valley tributary valley suggests headward erosion of the Delaware River valley and the Stranger Creek valley were occurring at approximately the same time. Figures 7 and 8 evidence can be interpreted to mean Missouri River valley and Stranger Creek valley headward erosion were also occurring at about the same time. In other words, evidence presented in this essay suggests the Missouri River valley, the Stranger Creek valley, and the Delaware River valley and their tributary valleys eroded headward into northeast Kansas at the same time.

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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