Geomorphic History of the Beaver Creek Drainage Basin as Determined from Topographic Map Evidence: Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota, USA

  •  Eric Clausen    


The Beaver Creek drainage basin is located along the North Dakota-Montana border slightly to the south of a recognized continental ice sheet margin and immediately to the east of the deep northeast-oriented Yellowstone River valley with Beaver Creek flowing in a north and northeast direction to join the north-oriented Little Missouri River. The Beaver Creek drainage basin originates on an escarpment-surrounded upland and its erosional history was determined by analyzing detailed topographic maps aided by previously made field observations that showed coarse-grained and distinctive alluvium had been transported in an east direction across the Beaver Creek drainage basin and across what is now the deep Little Missouri River valley to sediments making up southwest North Dakota high points containing both the distinctive alluvium and Oligocene age fossils. Drainage divides surrounding the Beaver Creek drainage basin show numerous divide crossings (or notches) linking northwest-oriented Yellowstone River tributary valleys with east-oriented Beaver Creek tributary valleys and west- or northwest-oriented Beaver Creek tributary valleys with southeast- or east-oriented Little Missouri River tributary valleys and suggest the Beaver Creek valley eroded headward across a large-scale flood formed anastomosing channel complex. Buttes located just to the east of the Beaver Creek-Little Missouri River drainage divide suggest the east-oriented water removed as much as 150 meters, or more, of Beaver Creek drainage basin bedrock, and even greater amounts of bedrock from regions to the south of the Beaver Creek drainage basin. Topographic map evidence and routes traveled by the distinctive alluvium suggest a continental ice sheet blocked a large and high-level northeast-oriented river and diverted at least some of the water along the ice sheet margin with the east-oriented floodwaters being captured in a progressive sequence by headward erosion of the Little Missouri River, Beaver Creek, and Yellowstone River valleys (in that order).

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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