North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area landform origins north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains, USA

Authors

 

Abstract:

This essay uses topographic map evidence to interpret landform origins in the North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains. The North Platte River flows in a north direction on the west side of Wyoming Shirley Mountains and then flows in a northeast and east direction around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains before turning to flow in a southeast direction on the east side of the Laramie Mountains. Stinking Creek originates north and east of the Shirley Mountains and flows in a north and northwest direction in a deep valley (Bates Hole) to reach west and northwest oriented Bates Creek, which then joins the northeast oriented North Platte River. Other north oriented drainage routes originate in the region north of the Shirley Mountains and join the northeast oriented North Platte River segment between the Shirley Mountains and the mouth of Bates Creek. Between the headwaters of these north oriented North Platte River tributaries and the Shirley Mountains are southwest and northwest and northwest and southwest oriented North Platte River tributaries. North to south oriented through valleys link valleys of the north oriented North Platte River tributaries with the valley of the southwest and northwest oriented North Platte River tributary and also with the valley of the northwest and southwest oriented North Platte River tributary. The through valleys and the valley orientations are interpreted in the context of immense south oriented melt water floods, which were beheaded and reversed in sequence (from east to west) by headward erosion of the much deeper northeast oriented North Platte River valley. Floodwaters were flowing from the western margin of a thick North American ice sheet and flowed from western Canada to and across Wyoming at a time when Wyoming mountain ranges were emerging. Mountain ranges emerged as floodwaters deeply eroded surrounding valleys and basins and as ice sheet related crustal warping raised the mountain ranges. A deep southeast oriented North Platte River valley eroded headward along the east and northeast flank of the emerging Laramie Mountains and then around the northwest end of the mountain range to behead and reverse south oriented flood flow channels located on the west side of the Laramie Mountains. Flood flow channels were beheaded reversed in sequence, which meant floodwaters on the Stinking Creek alignment were beheaded and reversed while floodwaters were still flowing in south directions further to the west. Reversed flood flow often captured floodwaters from further to the west and this captured flood flow helped erode deep north oriented valleys (such as the Bates Hole valley). In time headward erosion of the northeast oriented North Platte River valley beheaded and reversed flood flow channels west of the Shirley Mountains to create the present day north, northeast, east, and southeast oriented North Platte River drainage route.

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 the North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area landform origins north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains. 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 immense melt water 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 North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area landform evidence north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm.

North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area location map

Figure 1: North Platte River-Stinking Creek 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 North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains and illustrates a region in central Wyoming. The Laramie Mountains extend in a southeast and south direction from near Casper to the south edge of figure 1 (east half). The North Platte River flows in a northwest and northeast direction from the south edge of figure 1 (west half) to the south end of Seminoe Reservoir and then in a north direction to Pathfinder Reservoir. From Pathfinder Reservoir the North Platte River flows in a north-northeast and northeast direction to Casper and then in an east, south, and southeast direction around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains to the east center edge of figure 1. The Sweetwater River is the northeast and southeast oriented stream flowing from the west center edge of figure 1 to join the North Platte River near Pathfinder Dam. The Shirley Mountains are located east of the north oriented North Platte River segment and are located between Seminoe and Pathfinder Reservoirs. The Medicine Bow River is a northwest, west, and northwest oriented North Platte River tributary located south of the Shirley Mountains. Stinking Creek is an unlabeled north and northwest oriented stream originating north of the Shirley Mountains and joining an unlabeled northwest oriented stream (Bates Creek) to flow in a west direction to join the North Platte River north of Alcova. Dry Creek is an unlabeled west and southwest oriented stream north of the Shirley Mountains and joins the North Platte River near Kortes Dam (on more detailed maps Dry Creek is a northwest and southwest oriented tributary to west oriented Sage Creek and Kortes Dam is actually located south of the south end of Pathfinder Reservoir). The North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area investigated in this essay is located east of Stinking Creek, north of Dry Creek, and west and south of the North Platte River.

The North Platte River drainage system developed during immense south oriented meltwater floods flowing from the western margin of a thick North American ice sheet (located in western Canada) to and across Wyoming. At the time floodwaters flowed across Wyoming the Wyoming mountain ranges were just beginning to emerge and at first floodwaters could flow across what are today high mountain barriers. The north oriented North Platte River drainage route west of the Laramie Mountains and its north oriented tributary drainage routes (e.g. Stinking Creek) originated as south oriented flood flow channels with some of the south oriented floodwaters flowing in east directions on the present day west oriented Medicine Bow River alignment to reach east and northeast oriented Laramie River tributary valleys eroding headward across the emerging Laramie Mountains from what was at that time a much deeper southeast oriented North Platte River valley located east of the Laramie Mountains. That deep southeast oriented North Platte River valley eroded headward around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains and began to behead and reverse south oriented flood flow channels west of the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains. Floodwaters on north ends of the beheaded flood flow channels reversed flow direction to flow in north directions to reach the much deeper east and southeast oriented North Platte River valley. Flood flow continued to move in south directions west of the newly beheaded and reversed flood flow channels and was captured by the reversed flood flow to erode deep north oriented valleys and to create the northeast oriented North Platte River drainage routes, which beheaded and reversed additional flood flow channels. In this manner the present day north and northeast oriented North Platte River drainage route west of the Laramie Mountains was gradually formed with flood flow on the Stinking Creek alignment being beheaded and reversed before flood flow on the North Platte River alignment west of the Shirley Mountains was beheaded and reversed. This systematic beheading and reversing of flood flow channels meant south oriented floodwaters made U-turns to flow in north directions as they moved to the actively eroding and deep northeast oriented North Platte River valley.

Detailed location map for North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area

Figure 2: Detailed location map for North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 2 provides a detailed location map for the North Platte River-Stinking Creek drainage divide area north of the Wyoming Shirley Mountains. The North Platte River flows in a north direction from the south edge of figure 2 (west half) into Pathfinder Reservoir and then flows in an east and north-northeast direction to Alcova Reservoir. From Alcova Reservoir the North Platte River flows in a northeast and north direction to the north center edge of figure 2. Bates Creek flows in a northwest and west direction from Bates Creek Reservoir (north of east center edge of figure 2) to join the North Platte River just north of the north center edge of figure 2. Stinking Creek originates near Chalk Mountain and flows in a north direction through Bates Hole before turning in a northwest direction to join Bates Creek near the north edge of figure 2. Bolton Creek is a north, north-northeast, and northwest oriented North Platte River tributary located west of Stinking Creek. Bear Creek is a north-northeast and north-northwest oriented North Platte River tributary slightly west of Bolton Creek. Ledge Creek is a northeast and north-northwest oriented North Platte River tributary west of Bear Creek. Bear Spring Creek is a north oriented stream west of Ledge Creek and joins the North Platte River near the town of Alcova. Canyon Creek is a southwest and northwest oriented stream originating south of the Bear Creek headwaters and joins the North Platte River near the north end of Pathfinder Reservoir. The Pedro Mountains are south of Canyon Creek and east of the North Platte River. Sage Creek is the west oriented stream joining the North Platte River at the south end of Pathfinder Reservoir and is located south of the Pedro Mountains. Dry Creek is a northwest and southwest oriented Sage Creek tributary originating south of Chalk Mountain and joins Sage Creek south of Dome Rock. The Shirley Mountains are located south of Sage Creek. The Sweetwater River flows in an east-northeast, southeast, and south direction from the west edge of figure 2) north of center and near Independence Rock) to join the north oriented North Platte River at Pathfinder Reservoir as a barbed tributary. Arkansas Creek, Sand Creek, and Deweese Creek are north-northeast oriented North Platte River tributaries located south of the Sweetwater River. Flood flow on the North Platte River alignment north and east of Alcova Reservoir was beheaded and reversed before flood flow on the North Platte River alignment west of the Pedro Mountains was beheaded and reversed. The east oriented Sweetwater River valley captured huge volumes of south oriented floodwaters from west of figure 2 and may have moved those captured floodwaters to the Pathfinder Reservoir area. For a time at least some of those floodwaters flowed in a southeast direction on the present day northwest oriented Canyon Creek alignment and then in north directions on the newly beheaded and reversed Bear Creek, Bolton Creek, and Stinking Creek alignments. Headward erosion of a deeper south oriented valley on the present day north oriented North Platte River alignment probably beheaded and reversed flood flow routes on the Canyon Creek alignment. Next headward erosion of the still deeper east and north-northeast oriented North Platte River valley from the Alcova Reservoir area to the Pathfinder Reservoir area beheaded and reversed the south oriented flood flow channel on the present day north oriented North Platte River alignment (west of the Pedro Mountains and upstream from Pathfinder Reservoir) to create the north oriented North Platte River drainage route west of the Pedro Mountains seen today.

North Platte River-Bates Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 3 provides a topographic map of North Platte River-Bates Creek drainage divide area. The map contour interval for figure 3 is 20 meters. The North Platte River meanders in a north-northeast direction from the west edge of figure 3 (south half) and then flows in a north direction to the north edge of figure 3 (west half-near northwest corner). North of figure 3 the North Platte River flows in a northeast, east, south, and southeast direction around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains. Bates Creek flows in a north-northwest, northwest, west, and northwest direction from near the southeast corner of figure 3 to join the North Platte River near the north edge of figure 3. Stinking Creek flows in a north direction from the south edge of figure 3 through Bates Hole before turning in a northwest direction to join west oriented Bates Creek in the north center region of figure 3. Bolton Creek flows in a north-northwest and northwest direction from the south center edge of figure 3 to join the north oriented North Platte River. Bear Creek flows in a north-northwest direction from the south edge of figure 3 (west of center) to join the north oriented North Platte River in the west center area of figure 3. The present day north and northwest oriented drainage routes in figure 3 probably are located on alignments of south and southeast oriented flood flow channels. The south and southeast oriented flood flow channels were beheaded and reversed by headward erosion of the deep southeast oriented North Platte River valley, which eroded headward around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains (north of figure 3).  Flood flow on the present day north and north-northwest oriented Stinking Creek and Bates Creek alignments was beheaded and reversed before flood flow on the north oriented North Platte River alignment (seen in figure 3) was beheaded and reversed. South oriented flood flow on the present day north oriented North Platte River alignment probably flowed in an east direction on the present day west oriented Bates Creek alignment and then in a northeast and north direction to what at that time was an actively eroding and much deeper northeast oriented North Platte River valley head north of the northeast corner of figure 3.Headward erosion of that much deeper northeast oriented North Platte River valley head then beheaded and reversed south oriented flood flow on the present day north oriented North Platte River alignment, which also beheaded and reversed flood flow on the present day west oriented Bates Creek alignment to create the north-northwest, west, and northwest oriented Bates Creek drainage route and north and northwest oriented Stinking Creek drainage route. The reversal of flood flow on the north oriented North Platte River segment seen in figure 3 also reversed flood flow on the Bolton Creek and Bear Creek alignments to create the present day north-northwest and northwest oriented Bolton Creek and north-northwest and northwest oriented Bear Creek drainage routes.

North Platte River-Bolton Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 4 provides a topographic map of the North Platte River-Bolton Creek drainage divide area south and west of figure 3 and includes an overlap area with figure 3. The map contour interval for figure 4 is 20 meters. The North Platte River flows in a northeast direction through Alcova Reservoir to the north edge of figure 4 (west of center). North of figure 4 (and as seen in figure 3) the North Platte River turns to flow in a north direction and then in a northeast direction to flow around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains and before flowing in a southeast direction on the east side of the Laramie Mountains. Bolton Creek flows in a north-northeast and north direction from the south edge of figure 4 (east half) to the north edge of figure 4 (east half) and north of figure 4 joins the north oriented North Platte River. Stinking Creek flows in a north direction east of figure 4. Bear Creek headwaters are located west of Bolton Creek and flow in north-northeast directions before turning to flow in a north-northwest and north direction to the north edge of figure 4 (west of Bolton Creek). North of figure 4 Bear Creek joins the north oriented North Platte River. Washout Creek flows in a north direction to the north center edge of figure 4 and joins the north oriented North Platte River north of figure 4. Ledge Creek is located west of Bear Creek and flows in a north, northwest, and north direction to join the northeast oriented North Platte River near the north edge of figure 4. Bear Spring Creek is west of Ledge Creek and flows in a north-northeast and north direction and near the northeast end of Alcova Reservoir joins the North Platte River. Cottonwood Creek is the north oriented North Platte River tributary originating near the southwest corner of figure 4. The North Platte River crosses a series of northwest to southeast oriented hogback ridges in deep water gaps as it flows across figure 4. Valleys between the hogback ridges were probably eroded by immense southeast oriented flood flow at the time the deep northeast oriented North Platte River valley eroded headward from the newly beheaded and reversed north oriented North Platte River segment seen in figure 3. Headward erosion of the deep northeast oriented North Platte River valley across the hogback ridges beheaded and reversed south oriented flood flow channels on the present day north oriented Ledge Creek, Bear Springs Creek, and Cottonwood Creek alignments. Evidence for complicated flood flow movements in the Alcova Dam region is found in the form of wind gaps or through valleys linking the north oriented Bear Springs Creek valley with the northeast oriented North Platte River valley and also with a northeast oriented Ledge Creek tributary valley. Through valleys also link the north oriented Cottonwood Creek valley with the north oriented Bear Springs Creek valley. These through valleys probably were eroded by southeast and south oriented floodwaters that made U-turns to flow in north and northwest directions at the time the much deeper northeast oriented North Platte River valley was being eroded headward across the emerging hogback ridges.

North Platte River-Canyon Creek drainage divide area

Figure 5: North Platte River-Canyon Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 5 illustrates a topographic map of the North Platte River-Canyon Creek drainage divide area south and west of figure 4 and includes an overlap area with figure 4. The map contour interval for figure 5 is 20 meters. The North Platte River flows in an east and north-northeast direction from the west edge of figure 5 (north of center) to the southwest end of Alcova Reservoir (straddling north edge of figure 5-west half). North of figure 5 the North Platte River flows in a northeast, north, and northeast direction before flowing around the northwest end of the Laramie Mountains. Cottonwood Creek flows in a north direction near the highway to enter Alcova Reservoir north of figure 5. Bear Spring Creek flows in a north direction to the north center edge of figure 5 and Ledge Creek flows in a north direction to the north edge of figure 5. Bear Creek headwaters flow in a north-northeast direction to the north and east edges of figure 5 (near northeast corner). Bolton Creek flows in a north-northwest, north, and north-northeast direction near the east center edge of figure 5. The North Fork Canyon Creek originates in section 36 (in east center area of figure 5) and flows in a southwest direction to join north-northwest oriented South Fork Canyon Creek (which flows from the south edge of figure 5-east of center) and to form southwest and northwest and west oriented Canyon Creek, which flows to the west edge of figure 5 (south half). A north to south oriented through valley links the north-northeast oriented North Platte River valley segment with the northwest and west oriented Canyon Creek valley.  The through valley floor elevation is between 1980 and 2000 meters. The high point near Poison Spring on the west side of the through valley is 2077 meters and elevations to the east of the through valley rise to more than 2100 meters. These elevations suggest the through valley is at least 77 meters deep. The through valley was eroded by south oriented flood flow before headward erosion of a deeper south oriented flood flow channel on the present day north oriented North Platte River valley segment to the north (or perhaps before headward erosion of the much deeper northeast oriented North Platte River valley segment north of figure 5). Other through valleys in figure 5 provide evidence of additional flood flow movements. Perhaps the most interesting through valley is in the east center region of figure 5 and links the southwest oriented North Fork Canyon Creek valley with the north-northeast oriented Bear Creek headwaters valleys and also with the north oriented Bolton Creek valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 2080 and 2100 meters. Elevations to the northwest rise to more than 2180 meters and to the southeast rise to more than 2200 meters suggesting the through valley is at least 80 meters deep. The through valley was probably initiated by a southwest oriented flood flow channel diverging from south oriented flood flow channels on the present day north oriented Bear and Bolton Creek alignments. However the final flood flow movement in the through valley was probably in a northeast direction to newly reversed flood flow routes on the present day north oriented Bear and Bolton Creek drainage routes. The northeast oriented flood flow would have been captured from what was at that time a yet to be beheaded and reversed south oriented flood flow channel south of the north-northeast oriented North Platte River segment seen in figure 5 and from the east oriented Sweetwater River valley, which joins the North Platte River west of figure 5.

Detailed map of North Fork Canyon Creek-Bolton Creek drainage divide area

Figure 6: Detailed map of North Fork Canyon Creek-Bolton Creek drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 6 provides a detailed topographic map of the North Fork Canyon Creek-Bolton Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 5. The map contour interval for figure 6 is 20 feet. The North Fork Canyon Creek originates near the northeast corner of section 36 (near center of figure 6) and flows in southwest direction to the west edge of figure 6 (near southwest corner) and west and south of figure 6 joins the north-northwest oriented South Fork to form southwest and northwest oriented Canyon Creek, which eventually flows to the north oriented North Platte River near the location where the east oriented Sweetwater River flows to the North Platte River. Bolton Creek flows in a north direction from the east edge of figure 6 (south half) to the east edge of figure 6 (near northeast corner) and north of figure 6 flows in a north and northwest direction to join the north and northeast oriented North Platte River. The northeast and north oriented valley in section 30 (near north edge of figure 6) drains to north oriented Bear Creek, which also flows to the northeast and north oriented North Platte River. A through valley near the corner of sections 25, 30, 31, and 36 links the southwest oriented North Fork Canyon Creek valley with the northeast and north oriented Bear Creek headwaters valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 6860 and 6880 feet. Elevations in section 25 to the northeast rise to more than 7120 feet and near the northwest corner of figure 6 to 7186 feet. Elevations along the south center edge of figure 6 rise to more than 7200 feet. These elevations suggest the through valley is at least 300 feet deep. The through valley is a water-eroded valley and was probably initiated as a southwest oriented flood flow channel diverging from south oriented flood flow channels on the present day north oriented Bear Creek and Bolton Creek alignments. However, the final flood flow movements in the through valley were probably in a northeast direction to the newly reversed north oriented Bear Creek drainage route and moved large volumes of floodwaters from west of figure 6 to help erode the present day deep and north oriented Bear Creek and Bolton Creek valleys. The beheading and reversal of the northeast oriented flood flow that ended flood flow in the through valley and created the southwest oriented North Fork Canyon Creek drainage route was probably triggered by headward erosion of a much deeper valley on the present day north oriented North Platte River alignment.

Canyon Creek-North Platte River drainage divide area

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

Figure 7 illustrates the Canyon Creek-North Platte River drainage divide area south and west of figure 5 and includes an overlap area with figure 5. The map contour interval for figure 7 is 20 meters. Pathfinder Reservoir is located along the west edge of figure 7. The Pedro Mountains are located in the southwest quadrant of figure 7. The North Platte River flows in a northeast direction from the west edge of figure 7 (near southwest corner) into the south end of Pathfinder Reservoir and then flows in an east direction from Pathfinder Reservoir (near north edge of figure 7). The Sweetwater River flows in a south direction from north of the northwest corner of figure 7 to enter Pathfinder Reservoir near the northwest corner of figure 7. Canyon Creek is formed at the confluence of its southwest oriented North Fork (flowing from east edge of figure 7-north half) and its north-northwest oriented South Fork (flowing from east edge of figure 7-south of center) and flows in a southwest, northwest, west, north, and northwest direction to enter Pathfinder Reservoir and join the north oriented North Platte River. Little Canyon Creek originates near Pyramid Peak (near southwest corner of figure 7) and flows in a northeast and north direction to join northwest, north, and northwest oriented Canyon Creek. Sand Draw is a north-northwest oriented tributary joining Canyon Creek near the elbow of capture where Canyon Creek turns from flowing in a southwest direction to flowing in a northwest direction (near center of figure 7). Monument Creek is a northeast and north oriented tributary also joining Canyon Creek near the Canyon Creek elbow of capture. Dry Creek flows in a west and southwest direction across the southeast corner of figure 7. A north to south oriented through valley links the Canyon Creek elbow of capture with the south center edge of figure 7 and with the southwest oriented Dry Creek valley south of figure 7. The through valley floor elevation is between 2180 and 2200 meters. Elevations on Dry Creek Rim (north of Dry Creek near east edge of figure 7) rise to more than 2300 meters and to 2376 meters just east of figure 7. Pyramid Peak in the Pedro Mountains rises to 2535 meters. These elevations suggest the through valley is at least 176 meters deep. The through valley was eroded by south oriented flood flow moving from a southwest oriented flood flow channel on the present day southwest oriented Canyon Creek and North Fork Canyon Creek alignment and a southeast oriented flood flow channel on the present day northwest oriented Canyon Creek alignment. The reversal of flood flow that created the north oriented Bolton and Bear Creek drainage routes next beheaded and reversed the southwest oriented flood flow channel, which captured the southeast oriented flood flow channel to create a southeast and northeast oriented flood flow channel. Headward erosion of a much deeper valley on the North Platte River alignment then beheaded the southeast and northeast oriented flood flow channel to create the present day southwest and northwest oriented Canyon Creek drainage route.

Detailed map of Monument Creek-McFade Waterhole Draw drainage divide area

Figure 8: Detailed map of Monument Creek-McFade Waterhole Draw drainage divide area. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic Society TOPO software.

Figure 8 provides a detailed topographic map of the Monument Creek-McFade Waterhole Draw drainage divide area seen is less detail in figure 7. The map contour interval for figure 8 is 20 feet. The northeast end of the Pedro Mountains can be seen in the northwest corner of figure 8. Dry Creek flows in a southwest direction from the east edge of figure 8 (south of center) to the south center edge of figure 8. South of figure 8 Dry Creek flows in a south-southwest direction to join west oriented Sage Creek, which then flows to the north oriented North Platte River. McFade Waterhole Draw originates in section 3 (in southwest quadrant of figure 8) and drains in a south and south-southwest direction to the south edge of figure 8 (west half-near southwest corner). South of figure 8 McFade Waterhole Draw drains to south oriented Indian Springs Creek, which flows to west oriented Sage Creek. Monument Creek flows in a northeast direction from the west edge of figure 8 (north of center) to the north edge of figure 8 (west half) and north of figure 8 turns to flow in a north direction to join northwest oriented Canyon Creek near the elbow of capture where Canyon Creek turns from flowing in a southwest direction to flowing in northwest direction. Sand Draw is a north-northwest oriented Canyon Creek tributary draining to the north center edge of figure 8. An unnamed north oriented Monument Creek tributary originates in the southeast corner of section 34 (north of the McFade Waterhole Draw headwaters) and flows in a north direction to the north edge of figure 8 and joins Monument Creek just north of figure 8. A north to south oriented through valley in the northeast corner of section 3 links the north oriented Monument Creek tributary valley with the south oriented McFade Waterhole Draw headwaters valley. The through valley floor elevation is between 6860 and 6880 feet. Elevations along the drainage divide to the east (and east of figure 8) rise to 7706 feet. Elevations in the Pedro Mountains to the west (and west of figure 8) rise to more than 7718 feet suggesting the through valley is not only broad, but is also at least 800 feet at its deepest point in the northeast corner of section 3. The through valley was eroded by south oriented flood flow prior to flood flow reversals on the Canyon Creek alignment to the north of figure 8. The first flood flow reversal north of figure 8 was probably caused by the reversal of flood flow on the Bear Creek and Bolton Creek alignments. The second flood flow reversal was caused by headward erosion of a much deeper North Platte River valley west of figure 8.

Bolton Creek-Dry Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 9 illustrates the Bolton Creek-Dry Creek drainage divide area north and east of figure 7 and there is an overlap area with figure 7. The map contour interval for figure 9 is 20 meters. Stinking Creek flows in a north-northwest direction in the deep Bates Hole valley across the northeast corner of figure 9. Chalk Mountain is located in the southeast quadrant of figure 9. Elk Creek originates west of Chalk Mountain and flows in a north and northeast direction to join Stinking Creek near the north edge of figure 9. North of figure 9 Stinking Creek flows in a north and northwest direction to join west and northwest oriented Bates Creek, which then joins the north and northeast oriented North Platte River. Bolton Creek flows in a north direction on the west side of Bear Mountain and then turns in a northeast direction to the north edge of figure 9. North of figure 9 Bolton Creek flows in a north direction to join the north and northeast oriented North Platte River. Dry Creek Rim is located in the south center area of figure 9 (west of Chalk Mountain). Dry Creek flows in a northwest direction from the south edge of figure 9 (south of Chalk Mountain) and then in a west and west-southwest direction (south of Dry Creek Rim) to the south edge of figure 9. South and west of figure 9 Dry Creek flows in a southwest and south-southwest direction to join west oriented Sage Creek, which then flows to the north oriented North Platte River. The South Fork Canyon Creek originates on the north side of Dry Creek Rim and flows in a west, northwest, and north-northwest direction to join southwest oriented North Fork Canyon Creek and to form southwest oriented Canyon Creek, which flows to the west center edge of figure 9. West of figure 9 Canyon Creek turns to flow in a northwest direction to eventually join the north oriented North Platte River. A north to south oriented through valley between Chalk Mountain and Dry Creek Rim links the north oriented Elk Creek headwaters valley with the northwest oriented Dry Creek headwaters valley. The through valley is defined by 3 contour lines on each side and is at least 40 meters deep. The through valley was eroded by south oriented flood flow prior to the reversal of flood flow that created the present day north oriented Stinking Creek and Elk Creek drainage routes. But perhaps even more interesting is the decrease in elevation at the south end of Chalk Mountain, which suggests the Dry Creek-Stinking Creek drainage divide elevation decreases towards the headwaters of these diverging streams south of Chalk Mountain. Figure 10 provides a detailed map of the region south of Chalk Mountain to better see the relationship between these two divergent drainage routes.

Detailed map of Stinking Creek-Dry Creek drainage divide area

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

Figure 10 provides a detailed topographic map of the Stinking Creek-Dry Creek drainage divide area seen in less detail in figure 9. The map contour interval for figure 10 is 20 feet. Chalk Mountain is the upland labeled “Mountain” straddling the north center edge of figure 10. Dry Creek flows in a north-northwest and west direction from the south center edge of figure 10 to the west center edge of figure 10. West of figure 10 Dry Creek flows in a west, southwest, and south-southwest direction to join west oriented Sage Creek, which then joins the north oriented North Platte River. Stinking Creek originates in section 6 (at south end of Chalk Mountain) and flows in a south, northeast, and north-northeast direction to the north edge of figure 10. North of figure 10 Stinking Creek flows in a north and northwest direction to join west and northwest oriented Bates Creek, which flows to the northeast and north oriented North Platte River. The deep north oriented Stinking Creek valley is known as Bates Hole and is much lower in elevation than regions to the south, east, and west. Three southwest oriented Dry Creek tributary valleys in section 7 (and the west edge area of section 8) are linked with the deeper northeast and north oriented Stinking Creek valley. The through valley floor elevations are approximately 7400 feet. The Dry Creek valley floor elevation in section 13 to the southwest is approximately 7200 feet and Dry Creek crosses the 7100-foot contour line near the west edge of figure 10. Stinking Creek crosses the 6800-foot contour line near the north edge of figure 10. South of figure 10 the north oriented Dry Creek valley is linked by a through valley with a much deeper south oriented tributary valley to the deep east and south oriented Muddy Creek valley which drains to the present day northwest, west, and northwest oriented Medicine Bow River, which flows to the north oriented North Platte River. Apparently large volumes of floodwaters once flowed in a southeast direction on the present day northwest oriented Dry Creek alignment and for a time were joined by south and southwest oriented flood flow from the present day north oriented Stinking Creek alignment. Headward erosion of the deep northeast and north oriented North Platte River valley north of figure 10 then beheaded and reversed flood flow on the Stinking Creek while floodwaters continued to flow in a south direction to reach the southeast oriented flood flow channel on the present day northwest oriented Dry Creek alignment. Some of the southeast oriented floodwaters were captured by the reversed flood flow on the Stinking Creek and turned to flow in a northeast and north direction to help erode the deep north oriented Bates Hole valley. At the same time southeast oriented floodwaters continued to flow in a south direction to reach the deep Medicine Bow River valley south of figure 10 (which at that time may have been oriented in an east direction). Southeast and south oriented flood flow to the deep Muddy Creek valley (and then to the Medicine Bow River valley) south of figure 10 eroded a deeper valley and beheaded and reversed the northeast oriented flood flow channels to the north oriented Stinking Creek valley, which created the southwest oriented Dry Creek tributary drainage routes. The major flood flow reversals may have been greatly aided by regional crustal warping that was occurring as floodwaters flowed across the region.

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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