Field Geomorph

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Surface Geomorphology

Drainage Interpretation

Discussion / Conclusions





Inland Delta
There has been comparisons of the Blood Creek and Deception Creek's drainage to that of a "Mississippi Bird's Foot" Deltaic Complex. However it is a simple geomorphic principle that deals with the change in velocity of the stream. The creek upon entering the flat basin deposits its detrital load as a delta. As the stream continues into the basin, the creek extends its length and branches into several channels called distributaries that are flanked by natural levees. Over time, one or more distributaries caries more discharge than adjoining ones, and the delta growth is shifted to other distributaries so that the enter deltaic area expands into the basin.

The delta complex of Blood Creek as it enters Cheyenne Bottoms. There are several abandoned channels that show previous paths of Blood Creek. The current channel shows evidence of natural levees.
Delta of the Omo River as it dumps into Lake Turkana, Kenya. A new lobe of the delta is forming at the current river's entry into the lake. NASA Photograph NM22-746-081
The Niger River Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. This delta exhibits similar characteristics to the bird-foot delta of the Mississippi River. NASA Photograph NM23-730-271.
A simple reconstruction of the Mississippi Delta showing the probable course of the Mississippi River. 1 - an older delta lobe, 2 - the previous delta lobe, 3 - the current delta; a - Mississippi River, b - older channel leading to delta '1', c - source of cut-off to delta '2', d - natural levees forming along channel to current delta. Base map obtained from NOAA, processed by S. W. Salley , 11/04.

The question about how Cheyenne Bottoms formed still will allude geologists for many years. Perhaps until 3d-seismic data is obtained to verify or rule out structural movement or salt dissolution all theories should be considered for the formation of the basin. One theory that is overlooked in most literature is the stream capture of the Upper Smoky Hills River. This theory should be considered in the genesis of the bottoms in part.


Based on the field observations and aerial analysis of Cheyenne Bottoms, the following conclusions can be assumed: (1) Surface drainage does have similar characteristics to inland delta patterns. (2) Aerial photography can aid reconstructions of abandoned channels through differential vegetation. (3) Management practices have changed the Bottoms drainage patterns. (4) Pre-management drainage of the Bottoms exhibited a general surface sheet flow to the south-east. (5) The origin of the basin is complex geologically and no single theory can answer to its genesis.



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S.W. Salley (2004). All rights reserved. All illustrations and ideas presented in this paper are intellectual
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