Belle Fourche River-Cheyenne River Drainage Divide Area in the Wyoming Powder River Basin Analyzed by Topographic Map Interpretation Methods, USA

  •  Eric Clausen    


The dearth of scientific literature in which specific erosional landform origins are determined is an example of what Thomas Kuhn considered a scientific crisis. Scientific crises arise when scientists following their discipline’s established paradigm’s rules, or doing what Kuhn calls normal science, cannot explain observed evidence. Scientific crises are resolved in one of three ways. Normal science may eventually explain the evidence and normal science returns, the unsolved problems may be identified and labeled and left for future scientists to solve, or a new paradigm may emerge with an ensuing battle over its acceptance. To succeed any new paradigm must demonstrate its ability to explain the previously unexplained evidence and also open up new research opportunities. During the 20th century’s first half regional geomorphologists abiding by their discipline’s paradigm rules unsuccessfully tried to explain origins of numerous erosional landforms, such as drainage divides and erosional escarpments. Their failures eventually caused the regional geomorphology discipline, at least that part of the discipline concerned with determining specific erosional landform origins, to almost completely disappear. A new and fundamentally different geomorphology paradigm that requires massive southeast-oriented continental ice sheet melt-water floods to have flowed across the Powder River Basin has the ability to explain specific erosional landform origins and is demonstrated here by using detailed topographic map evidence to show how large southeast-oriented floods eroded the Powder River Basin’s Belle Fourche River-Cheyenne River drainage divide segment, eroded through valleys now crossing that drainage divide segment, eroded the Powder River Basin’s Belle Fourche River valley, established Belle Fourche and Cheyenne River Powder River Basin tributary valley orientations, and eroded the north-facing Pine Ridge Escarpment. The success of this and other similar new paradigm demonstrations suggest many if not all specific erosional landform origins can be determined.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9779
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9787
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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Google-based Impact Factor (2018): 11.90

h-index (January 2018): 17

i10-index (January 2018): 36

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h5-median(January 2018): 15