Osage River drainage basin landform origins, Kansas and Missouri, USA, overview essay

· Kansas, Missouri, Osage River, Overview essays
Authors

A geomorphic history based on topographic map evidence

Abstract:

This overview essay provides highlights from a series of more detailed essays in which topographic map evidence is interpreted to determine Osage River drainage basin landform origins. The more detailed essays are found under Osage River on this website’s sidebar category list. The Osage River is located in eastern Kansas and western and central Missouri and the detailed essays illustrate and describe topographic map evidence related to drainage divide origins. All drainage divide history interpretations in this overview essay and in the more detailed essays are based on topographic map evidence. The Osage River is a major Missouri River tributary joining the Missouri River near Jefferson City, Missouri. Osage River tributaries originate in eastern Kansas and join near Schell City, Missouri to form the Osage River which then flows in an east direction to Harry S. Truman Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks (another large reservoir) before turning to flow in a northeast direction to join the Missouri River. Major tributaries originating in eastern Kansas include the Marais des Cygnes River, Little Osage River (unlabeled on map below), and Marmaton River (a Little Osage River tributary). The South Grand River is an important southeast-oriented tributary originating south of Kansas City. The Osage River also has a number of north-oriented tributaries shown on the location map below. Topographic map evidence illustrated and discussed in the more detailed essays strongly suggests the Osage River valley eroded headward as immense south-oriented floods from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet flowed across what is today the Osage River drainage basin. Headward erosion of the deep Osage River valley and east-oriented Osage River tributary valleys captured flood waters in sequence (from south to north) and diverted flood waters to what was then the newly eroded Missouri River valley. North-oriented Osage River tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of flood flow on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes. Headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley and east-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys subsequently beheaded all south-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the actively eroding Osage River valley system. Evidence presented in the detailed essays supporting the flood origin interpretation includes the positions and orientations of the Osage River valley, major Osage River tributary valleys, and tributary valleys to the tributary valleys. Additional evidence supporting the flood origin interpretation includes through valleys eroded across present day drainage divides.

Osage River drainage basin location map

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Figure 1: Osage River drainage basin location map in eastern Kansas and western and central Missouri. National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Osage River drainage basin history

This essay provides highlights from a series of essays using topographic map evidence to interpret Osage River drainage basin landform origins. Interpretations in this overview essay and in the more detailed collection essays are based entirely on topographic map evidence and no effort has been made to introduce evidence from other sources. Osage River tributaries, including the Marais des Cygnes River and the Marmaton River, originate in eastern Kansas, south of the east-oriented Kansas River drainage basin and north and east of the southeast and south-southeast oriented Neosho River drainage basin, and join just east of the Kansas border in western Missouri to form the Osage River. The east-oriented Kansas River is a Missouri River tributary and the southeast and south-southeast oriented Neosho River is an Arkansas River tributary. Once formed in western Missouri the Osage River flows in east, northeast, east, and northeast directions to eventually reach join the Missouri River near Jefferson City, Missouri. In Missouri the Osage River is noted for its large incised meanders and the Osage River valley has been flooded by two large reservoirs, Harry S. Truman Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks. Labeled Osage River tributaries in figure 1 are the southeast-oriented South Grand River, the north oriented Sac River (and its Horse Creek and Little Sac River tributaries), the north oriented Pomme de Terre River, and the north-oriented Niangua River. South of the north-oriented Osage River tributary headwaters (east of the Neosho River-Arkansas River drainage basin in southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri) are headwaters of south-oriented tributaries flowing to the southeast-oriented White River, which flows across Arkansas (south of the figure 1 map area) to eventually join the Mississippi River. North of the Osage River in Missouri is the east-northeast and southeast oriented Missouri River with the north, northeast and east-oriented Blackwater River (a Missouri River tributary) being located between the Missouri River and the Osage River. Osage River drainage basin detailed essays are found under Osage River on the website sidebar category list. The Marais des Cygnes River drainage basin landform origins overview essay and its related detailed essays are focused on that Osage River tributary.

  • Osage River drainage basin topographic map evidence is here interpreted in the context of immense south-oriented floods, which flowed across Missouri and Kansas at the time the Osage River valley and its tributary valleys were eroded. Flood waters were derived from a rapidly melting North American ice sheet located north of the figure 1 map area. Prior to headward erosion of the Missouri River-Osage River valley the flood waters were flowing across Missouri to what were then actively eroding south-oriented White River tributary valleys, which were eroding headward from what was then the newly eroded White River valley. Further west and in eastern Kansas flood waters were flowing to the actively eroding Neosho River valley and its tributary valleys, which had eroded headward from what was then the newly eroded Arkansas River valley. Headward erosion of the deep east-oriented Missouri River valley (east of Jefferson City) beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes to the south-oriented White River tributary valleys with the reversed flood flow eroding north-oriented Missouri River tributary valleys.
  • The Osage River valley next eroded headward from what was then the actively eroding Missouri River valley head and eroded headward across central and western Missouri slightly in advance of the more northern Blackwater River valley headward erosion (and headward erosion of the still more northern Missouri River valley). Headward erosion of the deep east and northeast-oriented Osage River valley also beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes, with flood waters on north ends of beheaded flood flow routes reversing flow direction to erode north-oriented Osage River tributary valleys. South-oriented flood flow routes were beheaded and reversed one at a time and because flood flow routes were anastomosing (or interconnected) reversed flood flow on a newly beheaded flood flow route could capture yet to be beheaded flood flow from flood flow routes west of the actively eroding Osage River valley head. Such captures of yet to be beheaded flood flow played an especially significant role in eroding the north-oriented Osage River tributary valleys. Headward erosion of the Missouri River-Blackwater River valley beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes to the newly eroded Osage River valley. Subsequently Missouri River valley headward erosion beheaded flood flow routes to newly eroded Blackwater River valley and further west in western Missouri to actively eroding Osage River tributary valleys. In Kansas headward erosion of the Kansas River valley and east-oriented Kansas River tributary valleys from the newly eroded Missouri River valley beheaded and reversed flood flow to what was then the newly eroded Marais des Cygnes River valley.

Figure 2: Regional map illustrating northern half of Osage River drainage basin. National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 2 shows an enlarged version of the figure 1 map to illustrate the northern half of the Osage River drainage basin. While figure 2 only shows major rivers and major tributaries to those major rivers it does provide a big picture view of the Osage River drainage basin northern half. Note how the Missouri River flows in a southeast direction from the figure 2 northwest corner area to Kansas City and then in an east-northeast direction to Brunswick, Missouri. From Brunswick the Missouri River flows in a southeast direction to Jefferson City and then joins the northeast oriented Osage River. The north, northeast, and east-oriented Blackwater River is the labeled tributary joining the Missouri River near Blackwater, Missouri. The east and east-northeast oriented Kansas River (unlabeled in figure 2) joins the Missouri River at Kansas City. South of the Kansas River the Marais des Cygnes River flows in a southeast direction from Ottawa, Kansas (near figure 2 west center edge) to join the east-oriented Little Osage River (unlabeled in figure 2) near Schell City, Missouri and to form the east and northeast oriented Osage River. The Osage River then flows to Harry S. Truman Reservoir and then to the Lake of the Ozarks before turning in a northeast direction to flow to the Missouri River. Note how after joining the northeast-oriented Osage River the Missouri River turns to flow in a northeast direction before turning again to flow in an east direction (see figure 1). The South Grand River is the labeled southeast-oriented tributary joining the Osage River at Harry S. Truman Reservoir.

  • Note how Osage River tributaries from the north are generally oriented in a southeast direction (some Osage River segments are oriented in a southeast direction) and the Missouri River has several prominent south and southeast-oriented segments. The southeast-oriented river segments and tributary orientations are relics of southeast-oriented flood flow routes established as the deep Osage River valley and later the deep Missouri River valley eroded headward across massive south-oriented flood flow. The deep Osage River valley eroded headward across the region from the east to the west and captured south-oriented flood flow moving on flood flow routes west of the actively eroding Osage River valley head. The captured flood flow then moved in a southeast direction toward the actively eroding Osage River valley head and in doing so began to erode southeast-oriented channels. Those southeast-oriented flood flow channels developed into southeast-oriented tributary valleys, which eroded headward from the actively eroding Osage River valley head (and eroded headward slightly behind headward erosion of the Osage River valley, which was located to the south of the tributary valleys). The same process was repeated as the deep Missouri River valley eroded headward across the figure 2 map area. However, the Missouri River valley eroded headward along some of the southeast-oriented flood flow channels for considerable distances to create the present day southeast-oriented Missouri River valley segments. The south-oriented Missouri River valley segment south of Glasgow, Missouri was formed when the deep Missouri River valley eroded headward along a south-oriented flood flow route.

Figure 3: Regional map illustrating southern half of the Osage River drainage basin. National Geographic Society map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.


Figure 3 provides an enlarged version of the figure 1 map to illustrate the Osage River drainage basin southern half. Oklahoma is the state located in the figure 3 southwest corner. North of Oklahoma is the state of Kansas and east of Kansas and Oklahoma is the state of Missouri. The Marmaton River originates near Moran, Kansas (in figure 3 northwest corner area) and flows in a south-southeast and east direction into Missouri before turning to flow in a north-northeast direction to join the east oriented Little Osage River (unlabeled on figure 3) which then joins the southeast-oriented Marais des Cygnes River just west of Schell City, Missouri and forms the east and northeast-oriented Osage River. The Osage River then flows in an east direction to Osceola, Missouri where it turns to flow in a northeast direction and enters Harry S. Truman Reservoir. North of the figure 3 map area the Osage River turns to meander in a southeast direction to enter the Lake of the Ozarks before turning to flow in a northeast direction again. The south-southeast-oriented Neosho River is located in the Kansas southeast corner and flows into the Oklahoma northeast corner. South of the figure 3 map area the Neosho River flows to the southeast-oriented Arkansas River, which flows to the south-oriented Mississippi River. Note northwest and west-oriented Neosho River tributaries in the Missouri southwest corner, which are located south of north-oriented Marmaton River and Osage River tributaries. Table Rock Lake (located along the figure 3 south center edge) is a large reservoir flooding the White River valley. The White River flows in a southeast direction from Table Rock Lake across the state Arkansas to join the Mississippi River. The southwest-oriented James River is a White River tributary as are all other south-oriented streams flowing to the figure 3 south edge east of Table Rock Lake. Note how headwaters of north-oriented Osage River tributaries north of the James River are generally oriented in a northwest direction.

  • The north and northwest-oriented Marmaton and Osage River tributary valleys were eroded by reversals of south oriented flood flow routes beheaded by headward erosion of the deep Osage River-Maramaton River valley. Initially the flood flow was moving in a south direction across the entire figure 3 map area. Headward erosion of the deep southeast-oriented White River valley and its south oriented tributary valleys began to alter flood flow directions as water moved toward the actively eroding deep valleys and in the Missouri southwest corner area several southeast-oriented flood flow routes were initiated. These southeast-oriented flood flow routes were subsequently beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep Neosho River valley and its south- and south-southwest oriented tributary valleys. For example, see the northwest-oriented stream flowing to Lamar, Missouri and then flowing in a south and south-southwest direction to the Neosho River. About the same time as deep Neosho and White River tributary valleys were eroding headward into the region headward erosion of the deep Missouri River valley was proceeding across Missouri north of the figure 3 map area. Missouri River valley headward erosion also beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes. As previously mentioned these flood flow routes were beheaded and reversed from east to west and reversed flood flow on a newly beheaded flood flow route could capture significant flood flow from flood flow routes west of the actively eroding Missouri (and Osage) River valley head. Such captures of flood flow from yet to be beheaded flood flow routes played a major role in eroding the north-oriented Osage River tributary valleys.
  • In the figure 3 map area Missouri River valley headward erosion beheaded and reversed south-oriented flood flow routes which initiated the north and north-northeast oriented Gasconade River valley. Many Gasconade River valley segments were eroded by reversals of south-oriented flood flow, while other Gasconade River valley segments were eroded headward across south-oriented flood flow. However they were eroded the deep Gasconade River valley segments captured yet to be beheaded (by Missouri-Osage River valley headward erosion) south-oriented flood flow and the captured flood moved in southeast, east, and northeast directions to the actively eroding Gasconade River valley (and to its actively eroding tributary valleys). Evidence of these flood flow captures in found in the orientations of present day Gasconade River tributary valleys, orientations of tributary valleys to north-oriented Osage River tributaries, the northwest-oriented orientation of many north-oriented Osage River tributary headwaters, through valleys eroded across north-oriented Osage River tributary drainage basin divides, and through valleys eroded across the drainage divide between north-oriented Osage River tributaries (especially the Niangua River) and the north-oriented Gasconade River (and its north- and northeast-oriented tributaries, especially the Osage Fork of the Gasconade River). Numerous topographic maps illustrating these valley orientations and the through valleys are included in the detailed essays found under Osage River on the sidebar category list and also in detailed essays found under adjacent river names (e.g. Gasconade River).

Introduction to Missouri River drainage basin research project essay series

  • This Osage River drainage basin landform origins overview essay is one of a series of overview essays in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project (all overview essays can be found under overview essay on the website sidebar category list) . The research project goal is to use topographic map evidence to describe the evolution of drainage divides separating each significant present day Missouri River tributary valley and also to describe the evolution of drainage divides separating the present day Missouri River drainage basin from adjacent drainage basins. Each collection in this series relates to a specific Missouri River tributary, tributary to a present day Missouri River tributary, or a present day Missouri River valley segment. Each detailed essay illustrates and discusses detailed topographic map evidence describing the evolution of a secondary drainage divide separating specified Missouri River tributary valleys.
  • The Missouri River drainage basin research project introduces a new regional geomorphology paradigm. An essay titled “About the ‘thick ice sheet that melted fast’ geomorphology paradigm” provides a brief introduction to the new paradigm and how the new paradigm emerged. Detailed evidence illustrated and discussed in the Missouri River drainage basin research project builds a strong case for (1) deep glacial erosion of the North American continent by a thick North American ice sheet that created and occupied a deep “hole”, (2) rapid melting of that thick North American ice sheet, (3) immense floods of south-oriented melt water, (4) headward erosion of deep east, northeast and north-oriented valley systems to capture the south-oriented melt water floods and to divert the melt water further and further northeast into space the ice sheet had once occupied, (5) deep flood water erosion of the North American continent surface, and (6) crustal warping that resulted in uplift of mountain ranges as flood waters were deeply eroding what are now high mountain regions. This interpretation is fundamentally different from most previous interpretations. The Osage River drainage basin evidence in this overview essay and its related detailed essays is presented for review and discussion by qualified research geomorphologists and geologists.


Additional information and sources of maps

This essay has only provided a sample of the drainage divide evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” geomorphology paradigm. Many additional examples could be provided, especially by using more detailed topographic maps. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of supporting data. Maps used in this study were created by the United States Geological Survey and can be purchased in hard copy from the United States Geological Survey or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories located in major research libraries and elsewhere throughout the United States and in other countries. Illustrations used in this essay were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital data. National Geographic Society digital maps can be purchased from the National Geographic Society or from dealers offering National Geographic Society digital maps.

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