Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area landform origins in Washington, Clay, and Riley Counties, Kansas, USA

· Big Blue River, Kansas, Republican River
Authors

A geomorphic history based on topographic map evidence

Abstract:

The Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area in Washington, Clay, and Riley Counties, Kansas was eroded by massive south-oriented floods as the deep Kansas River-Republican River valley and the deep Big Blue River-Little Blue River valley and their tributary valleys eroded headward into the region. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet. The east-oriented Kansas River valley eroded headward across Kansas to capture south-oriented flood flow and to divert flood waters east to the Mississippi River valley. The south-oriented Big Blue River valley and southeast-oriented Republican River valley eroded headward from the actively eroding Kansas River valley. Headward erosion of east-oriented tributary valleys from the actively eroding Big Blue River valley occurred in an identifiable sequence. Specifically headward erosion of the Fancy Creek valley beheaded flood flow routes to southeast-oriented Kansas River tributary valleys, headward erosion of the Coon Creek valley beheaded flood flow routes to the Fancy Creek valley, and headward erosion of the Little Blue River-Mill Creek valley beheaded south-oriented flood flow routes to the Coon Creek valley and south-oriented Republican River tributary valleys. Evidence supporting this flood origin interpretation includes valley orientations, barbed tributaries, elbows of capture, and through valleys crossing 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 Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area landform origins in Washington, Clay, and Riley 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 Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area landform origins in Washington, Clay, and Riley 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.

Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas 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 Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area in Washington, Clay, and Riley Counties, Kansas. The Missouri River flows in a southeast direction across the figure 1 northeast corner. East and north of the Missouri River is the state of Missouri. West of the Missouri River in the figure 1 northern third is Nebraska. South of Nebraska is the state of Kansas. The Kansas River flows in a northeast direction from the figure 1 south edge (west half) to Junction City and Manhattan and then flows in an east and east-southeast direction to Topeka and the figure 1 east edge (near figure 1 southeast corner). The Big Blue River is a Kansas River tributary and originates north of the figure 1 map area and flows in a south-southeast direction to Beatrice and the Kansas state line. Once in Kansas the Big Blue River flows in a southeast direction to Blue Rapids, and then in a southeast, southwest, and southeast direction to join the east-oriented Kansas River near Manhattan. A major Big Blue River tributary is the Little Blue River which flows from the figure 1 northwest corner in a southeast direction to Hebron and Fairbury, Nebraska and then to Hanover and Waterville, Kansas before joining the Big Blue River near Blue Rapids. Mill Creek is the unlabeled east-oriented Little Blue River tributary flowing through Haddam, Morrowville, and Washington, Kansas before turning to flow in a north direction to join the southeast oriented Little Blue River. The unlabeled east-southeast oriented Big Blue River tributary flowing to Tuttle Creek Lake is Fancy Creek. South and west of the Little Blue River is the Republican River, which flows in a southeast direction from the figure 1 west edge to Guide Rock and Superior, Nebraska and then to Republic, Concordia, Clifton, and Clay Center, Kansas before joining the northeast and east oriented Kansas River near Junction City. This essay investigates the drainage divide area between the Republican River and the Big Blue River, north of the Kansas River, south of Mill Creek, and east of a line extending south from Haddam to Clifton. The Big Blue River-Delaware River drainage divide area and the Big Blue River-South Fork Big Nemaha River drainage divide area address regions east of the Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area and can be found under Big Blue River on the sidebar category list. Hundreds of Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays published on this website collectively provide overwhelming evidence for immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across Nebraska and into Kansas. The east oriented Kansas River valley eroded headward across Kansas to capture south-oriented flood waters and to divert flood flow to the south-oriented Mississippi River valley. The Big Blue River and Republican River valleys and their tributary valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Kansas River valley to capture flood waters and divert flood waters to what was then the newly eroded east-oriented Kansas River valley.

Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area detailed location map

Figure 2: Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas 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 Mill Creek (Big Blue River)-Republican River (Kansas River) drainage divide area. Republic, Washington, Marshall, Cloud, Clay, Riley, and Pottawatomie are Kansas county names and county boundaries are shown. The Kansas River flows in a northeast direction from Junction City near the figure 2 south center edge to Manhattan (along the Riley County southeast border) and then east to the figure 2 east edge (along the Pottawatomie County south border). The Big Blue River flows south in western Marshall County and then forms the Riley-Pottawatomie County border before reaching the east-oriented Kansas River near Manhattan. Tuttle Creek Lake is a reservoir flooding the Big Blue River valley along the Riley County-Pottawatomie border. Note how Big Blue River flows in a southwest and then southeast direction where it forms the Riley County-Pottawatomie County border. Fancy Creek has south oriented headwaters in southern Washington County and then flows in a southeast direction to join the Big Blue River at its elbow of capture. Note a second Mill Creek (different from the Mill Creek in Washington County) located in Riley County, which flows in southeast direction to join the southeast oriented Big Blue River north of Manhattan. The Little Blue River flows from the figure 2 north center edge to Hanover and Waterville before joining the Big Blue River near Blue Rapids. Coon Creek is a southeast and northeast oriented Little Blue River tributary in eastern Washington County and joins the Little Blue River near Waterville in southwest Marshall County. The North and South Forks of Mill Creek originate in eastern Republic County and join west of Haddam in western Washington County. Note north-oriented Mill Creek tributaries in the Haddam area. East-oriented Mill Creek then flows through Haddam and Morrowville before turning to flow in a north and northeast direction to join the southeast-oriented Little Blue River near Hanover. The Republican River flows in a south-southeast direction in western Republic County to Concordia in northern Cloud County. From Concordia the Republican River flows in an east direction to Clifton and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to Clay Center in Clay County and finally to join the Kansas River near Junction City. Note south and southwest oriented Republican River tributaries joining the Republican River near Clifton. Evidence illustrated and described in topographic maps and discussions below documents how headward erosion of the Big Blue River valley and its east oriented tributary valleys progressively captured south oriented flood waters and diverted the captured flood flow to the newly eroded Kansas River valley. Note the predominantly south- and southeast-orientation of most drainage routes in Washington, Clay, and Riley Counties. These drainage routes eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Kansas River valley along and across south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting ice sheet and topographic maps below illustrate evidence supporting this flood erosion interpretation.

Mill Creek-Republican River drainage divide area south of Haddam

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

Figure 3 illustrates the Mill Creek-Republican River drainage area in western Washington County. Haddam is the town located in the figure 3 northwest corner. Washington is the town located along the figure 3 east edge. Morrowville is the town located east of the figure 3 north center area. Mill Creek flows in a northeast direction near Haddam and then turns to flow in a southeast direction to Morrowville and Washington. Named north and northeast oriented Mill Creek tributaries between Haddam and Morrowville are Mulberry Creek, Turkey Creek, and Iowa Creek. East of Morrowville the northeast and north oriented Mill Creek tributaries are Melvin Creek, Buffalo Creek, Camp Creek (which joins Mill Creek at Washington), and Ash Creek (which joins Mill Creek east of the figure 3 map area). The southeast and south oriented stream in the figure 3 southwest quadrant is Parsons Creek, which flows to the Republican River. The south-southeast oriented stream south of Coleman Township in the figure 3 center area is Peats Creek. Note the shallow through valleys linking the south oriented Parsons Creek headwaters valleys with north-oriented Mulberry Creek, Turkey Creek, and Iowa Creek headwaters valleys (figure 4 below provides a more detailed map of the drainage divide area north and east of the Adee Landing Strip). The through valleys provide evidence of multiple south and southeast oriented flood flow channels that moved flood water to what was then the deep and newly eroded Republican River valley prior to headward erosion of the east oriented Mill Creek valley. The multiple south and southeast oriented flood flow channels suggest the presence of a large-scale south-oriented anastomosing channel complex that was systematically dismembered by headward erosion of the Republican River valley (and its tributary valleys) and the subsequent headward erosion of the east-oriented Mill Creek valley. Mill Creek valley headward erosion captured the south- and southeast-oriented flood flow and diverted the water east to what was then the newly eroded Little Blue River valley located east of figure 3 (see figure 5 below). Headward erosion of northeast-oriented Mill Creek tributary valleys was closely related to the Mill Creek valley erosion. Starting in the east the Ash Creek valley eroded headward (to the southwest) from the actively eroding Mill Creek valley head to capture southeast-oriented flood flow south of the actively eroding Mill Creek valley head. The Camp Creek valley next headward from the actively eroding Mill Creek valley head and beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Ash Creek valley. This process continued as the Mill Creek valley eroded headward across the figure 3 map area. Northwest and north oriented tributary valleys to the northeast-oriented Mill Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on the northwest and north ends of the beheaded southeast- and south-oriented flood flow channels.

Detailed map of Mill Creek-Republican River drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 provides a detailed map of the Mill Creek-Republican River drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 3 above (the Adee Landing Strip is located just west of the figure 4 southwest corner area). North-oriented drainage routes in section 10 in the figure 4 northwest quadrant flow to north-northeast oriented Mulberry Creek, which joins east-oriented Mill Creek near Haddam. North-oriented drainage in section 12 (in the figure 4 north center area) flows to north and northeast oriented Turkey Creek, which also flows to join Mill Creek. Northeast-oriented drainage in section 7 (in the figure 4 northeast quadrant) flows to northeast oriented Iowa Creek, which is another Mill Creek tributary. All south-oriented figure 4 drainage routes, with the exception of those in the figure 4 southeast corner, flow to south-oriented Parsons Creek, which flows to the southeast-oriented Republican River. The south-southeast oriented drainage in the figure 4 southeast corner flows to south-southwest oriented Peats Creek, which is another Republican River tributary. Note the north-south oriented through valleys linking the various north-oriented Mill Creek tributary valleys with the south-oriented Parsons Creek and Peats Creek tributary valleys. These through valleys range in depth, for example in the section 15 northeast quadrant (figure 4 west center) a through valley is approximately 40 feet deep. Another through valley about 40 feet deep can be seen in the section 13 northeast quadrant. Other through valleys are shallower, with some being ten feet or less in depth. What is impressive is the number of these through valleys. Each through valley is evidence of a south-oriented flood flow channel. The multiple south-oriented flood flow channels were probably components of a large-scale south-oriented anastomosing channel, which had been captured by headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented Republican River valley (south of the figure 4 map area). When the through valleys were eroded the deep east-oriented Mill Creek valley (north of the figure 4 map area) did not exist and the south-oriented flood flow channels were being eroded into a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 4 elevations today. Headward erosion of the Mill Creek-Iowa Creek valley first captured (and beheaded) the south-oriented flood flow channels in the figure 4 east half. Next headward erosion of the Mill Creek-Turkey Creek valley captured (and beheaded) the south-oriented flood flow, and finally headward erosion of the Mill Creek-Mulberry Creek valley captured (and beheaded) south-oriented flood flow in the figure 4 west half. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded northeast and east-oriented Mill Creek valley system.

Mill Creek-Little Blue River drainage divide area east of Washington

Figure 5: Mill Creek-Little Blue River drainage divide area east of Washington, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 5 illustrates the Mill Creek-Little Blue River drainage divide area east and north of the figure 3 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 3. Washington, Kansas is the town located in the figure 5 southwest quadrant and Hanover is the town located in the figure 5 northeast quadrant. Mill Creek flows in an east and southeast direction from the figure 5 west edge to Washington and then turns to flow in a north and east direction to join the southeast and south oriented Little Blue River, which flows from the figure 5 north edge to the figure 5 south edge (east half of figure 5). Devils Creek is the southeast-oriented Mill Creek tributary located in the figure 5 northwest quadrant. Camp Creek is the northeast-oriented Mill Creek tributary flowing from the figure 5 southwest corner to join Mill Creek at Washington. Note the northwest-oriented Mill Creek tributary at Washington and the north-oriented stream following the highway into Washington. The north-oriented stream is Ash Creek (for northeast-oriented Camp Creek and Ash Creek headwaters see figure 3 and figure 6 below). The northwest-oriented stream is unnamed, but is aligned with southeast-oriented Coon Creek headwaters, which can be seen in figure 6 below. Note also southeast-oriented Little Blue River tributaries located east of the north-oriented Mill Creek valley segment. Shallow through valleys link valleys of those southeast-oriented Little Blue River tributaries with the north-oriented Mill Creek valley and provide evidence headward erosion of what is now the north-oriented Mill Creek valley beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow to the south-oriented Little Blue River valley. In other words, for a time, while the deep Little Blue River valley was actively eroding headward in the figure 5 map area, flood water moved in a southeast direction from the figure 5 northwest quadrant to the actively eroding Little Blue River valley (and the Mill Creek valley did not exist). Probably the north-oriented Mill Creek valley segment originated as a south-oriented flood flow channel, which eroded headward from the southeast-oriented Coon Creek valley (located south of the figure 5 map area–see figure 6). Headward erosion of the south-oriented Little Blue River valley and the east-oriented Mill Creek valley segment (near the figure 5 north edge) beheaded south-oriented flood flow to the north-oriented Coon Creek valley. Flood waters on the north end of the beheaded flood flow channel reversed flow direction to flow north to the newly eroded Little Blue River valley. The reversed flood flow also captured flood flow on the southeast-oriented Mill Creek alignment enabling the Mill Creek valley to erode headward across the previously illustrated figure 3 map area. The unnamed northwest-oriented Mill Creek tributary valley (southeast from Washington) was also eroded by reversed flood flow moving to the newly reversed Mill Creek valley.

Mill Creek-Coon Creek drainage divide area south of Washington

Figure 6: Mill Creek-Coon Creek drainage divide area south of Washington, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 6 illustrates the Mill Creek-Coon Creek drainage divide area south of the figure 5 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 5. Washington is the town located in the figure 6 north center area. Mill Creek flows in southeast direction from the figure 6 north edge to Washington and then turns to flow in a northeast and north direction to the figure 6 north edge. The northeast oriented tributary joining Mill Creek just west of Washington is Camp Creek. The northeast, north, and northwest oriented tributary joining Mill Creek at the elbow of capture (where Mill Creek turns from flowing in a southeast direction to flowing in a northeast and north direction) is Ash Creek. Note the previously discussed unnamed northwest-oriented Mill Creek tributary joining Ash Creek just south of Washington. The Little Blue River flows in a south and east direction in the figure 6 northeast corner. Greenleaf is the town located southeast from Washington. South of Greenleaf in the figure 6 southeast quadrant is southeast-oriented Coon Creek, which east of the figure 6 map area turns to flow in a northeast direction to join the southeast-oriented Little Blue River (near Waterville), which then joins the southeast-oriented Big Blue River (near Blue Rapids). North of Greenleaf is northeast-oriented Beaver Creek, which flows to the east and southeast oriented Little Blue River. Note southeast-oriented Beaver Creek tributaries. The southeast-oriented stream in the figure 6 west center area is Peats Creek, which turns to flow in a south direction to the figure 6 south edge. South of the figure 6 map area Peats Creek flows in a south-southwest direction to join the southeast-oriented Republican River. South-oriented Parsons Creek is located in the figure 6 southwest corner and is also a Republican River tributary. Figure 6 evidence suggests flood flow directions may have changed several times as deep south and southeast oriented valleys eroded headward from the newly eroded Kansas River valley. South-oriented flood waters were probably flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 6 elevations today when headward erosion of the deep Republican River valley began to capture the south- and southeast-oriented flood flow. The deep Big Blue River east of the figure 6 map area was eroding headward at about the same time and headward erosion of deep Little Blue River valley and its tributary Coon Creek valley and later its Beaver Creek valley began to capture south-oriented flood flow that had been moving to the newly eroded Republican River valley. For example note how the Coon Creek headwaters are northeast oriented. The Coon Creek headwaters orientation may have been established by a reversal of southwest-oriented flood flow to the newly eroded Republican River valley. Headward erosion of the Little Blue River and Mill Creek valleys as described above then beheaded all figure 6 map area south oriented flood flow to the Republican River.

Coon Creek-Fancy Creek drainage divide area southwest of Waterville

Figure 7: Coon Creek-Fancy Creek drainage divide area southwest of Waterville, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 7 illustrates the Coon Creek-Fancy Creek drainage divide area south and east of the figure 6 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 6. Blue Rapids is the town located along the figure 7 east edge in the northeast corner area. Waterville is the town located near the figure 7 north edge just west of Blue Rapids. The east-southeast oriented river flowing from Waterville to Blue Rapids is the Little Blue River. The southeast-oriented river at Blue Rapids, which the Little Blue River joins, is the Big Blue River (the Big Blue River valley is flooded by Tuttle Creek Lake (or reservoir). Coon Creek is the southeast-oriented stream flowing from the figure 7 northwest quadrant and then turning to flow in a northeast direction to join the Little Blue River near Waterville. The southeast-oriented stream flowing to the figure 7 southeast corner is Swede Creek, which flows to the Big Blue River. Note how the southeast-oriented Coon Creek valley segment is on approximately the same southeast-oriented alignment as the southeast-oriented Swede Creek valley alignment. This evidence suggests the Coon Creek-Swede Creek alignment was used by a southeast-oriented flood flow channel prior to headward erosion of the northeast oriented) Coon Creek valley, which captured the southeast-oriented flood flow channel and which diverted the flood water to the newly eroded and deep Big Blue River valley. South-oriented streams west of Swede Creek flow to east-southeast oriented Fancy Creek located south of the figure 7 map area (see figure 9 below). From the figure 7 west edge going east these streams are: an unnamed West Fancy Creek tributary, Deadman Creek, North Fork Fancy Creek, School Creek, and North Otter Creek. Note how these south-oriented valleys are linked by through valleys to north-oriented tributary valleys to the southeast-oriented Coon Creek valley. The north-oriented Coon Creek tributary flowing to the elbow of capture (where Coon Creek turns from flowing in a southeast direction to flowing in a northeast direction) is Sulphur Creek. Figure 8 below provides a detailed map of the Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek drainage divide area to better illustrate the north-south through valley. Through valleys linking the north-oriented Coon Creek tributaries with the south-oriented Fancy Creek tributary valleys provide evidence headward erosion of the southeast-oriented Coon Creek valley beheaded multiple south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the newly eroded Fancy Creek valley. South-oriented Fancy Creek tributary valleys were actively eroding north from that newly eroded valley. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded south-oriented flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north, to erode the north-oriented Coon Creek tributary valleys and to create the Coon Creek-Fancy Creek drainage divide.

Detailed map of Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Sulphur Creek-North Otter 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 Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in the figure 7 map area above. Sulphur Creek is the north-oriented stream in section 23 located in the figure 8 northeast quadrant. As seen in figure 7 above Sulphur Creek flows north from the figure 8 map area to join Coon Creek near the point where Conn Creek turns from being a southeast-oriented stream to being a northeast-oriented stream. North Otter Creek is the south-southeast oriented stream located in section 36 in the figure 8 southeast corner. South of figure 8 North Otter Creek flows in a south-southeast direction to join east-southeast oriented Fancy Creek, which flows to the southeast-oriented Big Blue River (see figure 10). Note the north-south oriented through valley linking the north-oriented Sulphur Creek valley with the south-oriented North Otter Creek valley. Other north-oriented through valleys linking north-oriented Coon Creek tributary valleys with south-oriented Fancy Creek tributary valleys are located in sections 22 and 21 west of the Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek through valley. However, the Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek through valley is the deepest figure 8 through valley and the valley floor is approximately 100 feet lower than tops of the surrounding hills. Figure 8 through valleys, including the Sulphur Creek-North Otter Creek through valley, provide evidence of multiple south-oriented flood flow channels, which moved large quantities of flood water from north of the figure 8 map area to what were then actively eroding south-oriented Fancy Creek tributary valleys. At the time the through valleys were eroded the deep Coon Creek valley north of the figure 8 map area did not exist. Prior to headward erosion of the south-oriented valleys flood waters were flowing on a topographic surface at least as high as the highest figure 8 elevations today. Headward erosion of the Big Blue River-Little Blue River-Coon Creek valley beheaded the south-oriented flood flow channels. Flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow north. The reversed flood flow was responsible for eroding the north-oriented Coon Creek tributary valleys, including the north-oriented Sulphur Creek valley, and also for creating the present day Coon Creek-Fancy Creek drainage divide.

West Fancy Creek-Republican River drainage divide area north and east of Clay Center

Figure 9: West Fancy Creek-Republican River drainage divide area north and east of Clay Center, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 9 illustrates the West Fancy Creek-Republican River drainage divide area located south of the figure 7 map area. Clay Center is the city located in the figure 9 southwest quadrant. The Republican River is the southeast-oriented river in the figure 9 southwest corner. Leonardville is the smaller town located in the figure 9 southeast quadrant. Green is the small town located near the figure 9 center. West Fancy Creek is the east-southeast oriented stream located in the figure 9 northeast quadrant and flows from the figure 9 north center edge to join southeast-oriented Fancy Creek (near May Day, Kansas) and then to flow to the figure 9 east edge (north half). The north-oriented tributary flowing from Fancy Creek Township in the figure 9 east center area to join Fancy Creek is Otter Creek. Mall Creek is the south-oriented Republican River tributary originating southeast from Green and flowing to the figure 9 south center edge area. South of figure 9 Mall Creek and other figure 9 south-oriented streams join the southeast-oriented Republican River. Lincoln Creek is a south-southwest oriented Republican River tributary located in Center Township just east of Clay Center. Note how Lincoln Creek headwaters near Green (in the figure 9 center) are linked by a through valley with headwaters of a north-northeast oriented West Fancy Creek tributary. Figure 9a below provides a detailed of the Green area to better illustrate that north-northeast to south-southwest oriented through valley. While several through valleys are located in sections 19 and 20 east of Green the deepest through valley is located near the boundary between sections 19 and 20. The floor of that through valley is approximately 75 feet lower than the highest figure 9 elevations to the east and approximately 125 feet lower than highest figure 9 elevations to the west. Tops of the hills represent the level of the surface upon which flood waters flowed before the through valleys were eroded, although it is possible and probable considerable flood erosion occurred prior to erosion of that earlier erosion surface. The figure 9a evidence suggests south-oriented flood water deeply eroded the entire figure 9 map area as the deep southeast-oriented Republican River valley eroded headward into the region. Evidence also suggests the Big Blue River-Fancy Creek-West Fancy Creek valley subsequently beheaded the south-southwest oriented flood flow channels to the newly eroded Republican River valley. The north-northeast and northeast oriented West Fancy Creek and Fancy Creek tributary valleys were eroded by reversals flood flow on the north ends of south-southwest oriented flood flow channels.

Figure 9a: Detailed map of West Fancy Creek-Republican River drainage divide area near Green, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.  

Fancy Creek-Wildcat Creek drainage divide area near Tuttle Creek Lake

Figure 10: Fancy Creek-Wildcat Creek drainage divide area near Tuttle Creek Lake. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

Figure 10 illustrates the Fancy Creek-Wildcat Creek drainage divide area near Tuttle Creek Lake and is south and east of the figure 9 map area and includes overlap areas with figure 9. Riley, Kansas is the town located near the figure 10 south center edge. Leonardville is the town located just south of the figure 10 center. Tuttle Creek Lake is a reservoir located in the Big Blue River valley and is located in the figure 10 east half. Fancy Creek is the east-southeast-oriented Big Blue River tributary located along the figure 10 north edge (and with a valley flooded by Tuttle Creek Lake). The south and southeast oriented stream originating near Leonardsville and flowing to Riley and the figure 10 south edge is Wildcat Creek. South of figure 10 Wildcat Creek flows in a southeast direction to join the east-oriented Kansas River at Manhattan, Kansas. The southeast-oriented stream originating near Leonardville and joining the Big Blue River near the figure 10 southeast corner is Mill Creek (and is a different stream from the Mill Creek seen in figures 3, 5, and 6 and referred to in the title of this essay). Walnut Creek is the north-northeast oriented stream flowing from near Leonardville to join Fancy Creek near the figure 10 north edge. Note the north-south oriented through valleys near Leonardville linking the north-northeast oriented Walnut Creek valley with the southeast-oriented Mill Creek valley and the south-oriented Wildcat Creek valley. Figure 10a below provides a detailed map of the Leonardsville region to better illustrate the through valleys. The north-oriented stream in the figure 10a northeast quadrant is Walnut Creek. The south-oriented stream in the figure 10a southeast corner is Mill Creek and other south-oriented streams along the figure 10a south edge are tributaries of Wildcat Creek. Note the north-south oriented through valley in section 13 in the figure 10a southeast quadrant linking the north-oriented Walnut Creek valley with the southeast-oriented Mill Creek valley. The through valley floor is 40-50 feet lower than tops of surrounding hills and provides evidence of south-oriented flood flow to what was then the actively eroding Mill Creek valley. Also note in figure 10a two north-south oriented through valleys on either side of Leonardville linking an east-oriented Walnut Creek tributary valley with the south-oriented Wildcat Creek headwaters valley. Floors of those through valleys are 30-40 feet lower than tops of surrounding hills and the through valleys provide evidence of south-oriented flood flow channels to what was then the actively eroding Wildcat Creek valley. South-oriented flood flow ended when headward erosion of the deep Big Blue River-Fancy Creek valley caused a major flood flow reversal, which eroded the north-northeast oriented Walnut Creek valley and which created the Fancy Creek-Mill Creek drainage divide and the Fancy Creek-Wildcat Creek drainage divide.

Figure 10a: Detailed map of Walnut Creek-Mill Creek drainage divide area near Leonardville, Kansas. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software. 

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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