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The Geomorphology and Geologic History of Cheyenne Bottoms Central Kansas

by Shawn Salley


Introduction
The large topographic basin located in Barton County is a vast change from the surrounding topography. Cheyenne Bottoms is a large structurally controlled, internally drained wetland (Latta, 1950; Bayne, 1977). The surface drainage of the Bottoms is internally drained with attempts of recent management practices to channalize the sheetflow drainage pattern. Two creeks, Blood Creek and Deception Creek, enter the basin and provide the natural surface flow to the bottoms. These creeks have characteristics of inland deltas and have many abandoned channels that show their past drainage. Two management areas exist in the Bottoms, the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area (CBWA) managed by the state, and the Nature Conservancy. The CBWA has taken an active management practice which moves water between pools between dikes and canals built in the 1950's. The Nature Conservancy uses a passive management practice trying to rely on the natural drainage of the basin and has taken action to revert back to the  pre-developed drainage. This report will focus on reconstructing drainage of the upper portions of the Cheyenne Bottoms Basin and presenting a geologic interpretation


Study Area
The Cheyenne Bottoms is a shallow marsh located in northern Barton County of central Kansas. It is a basin surrounded by steep valley walls of Cretaceous bedrock which overlies Permian salt evaporate beds. The basin lies at the margin between the Smokey Hill's River and the Arkansas River. Evidence of Pleistocene alluvium between the two drainage divides links the two drainage basins and is key to understanding the history of the basin. The basin itself is approximately 10 kilometers (6 miles) in width and 8 miles (8miles) wide and encompasses an area of approximately 170 square km. The flats of the Bottoms has little relief but shows distinct evidence of geomorphic zones.


Surficial Geology of Cheyenne Bottoms of northern Barton County, Kansas
(modified from Fent, 1950)

 

 

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This web presentation is for the fulfillment of Field Geomorphology
as outlined in the Emporia State University's Earth Science Curriculum. 

Please direct questions to the author


S.W. Salley (2004). All rights reserved. All illustrations and ideas presented in this paper are intellectual
      property of the author. Permission must be obtained from author to use any content of this report.