Solving a Perplexing Scenic and Sage Creek Basin Drainage History Problem, Pennington County, South Dakota, USA


  •  Eric Clausen    

Abstract

The escarpment-surrounded Sage Creek and Scenic Basins open in southeast directions toward the northeast and east oriented White River valley while their floors drain in a northwest direction to the northeast oriented Cheyenne River. Located in the South Dakota Badlands region the Sage Creek and Scenic Basins present an intriguing drainage history problem where key puzzle pieces also include the White and Cheyenne River valleys. The puzzle solution requires massive amounts of southeast oriented water to first erode as deep headcuts the east oriented White River valley segment and the two southeast-oriented Sage Creek and Scenic Basins prior to Cheyenne River valley headward erosion. The northeast oriented White River valley segment upstream from the east oriented White River valley segment (and from the Sage Creek and Scenic Basin location) next eroded headward across southeast oriented flow and was initiated by southeast oriented water flowing from the Scenic Basin that turned in a northeast direction to reach the east oriented White River downstream valley segment. Erosion of the Sage Creek and Scenic Basin headcuts abruptly ended when headward erosion of the northeast oriented Cheyenne River valley beheaded southeast oriented flow routes leading to the then actively eroding Sage Creek and Scenic Basin heacuts. Cheyenne River valley headward erosion in a southwest direction next captured massive southeast oriented flow then still moving to the newly eroded northeast oriented White River valley segment. Northwest oriented drainage developed on the Sage Creek and Scenic Basin floors when a flood surge or temporary dam caused water to fill the White River valley and to spill in a northwest direction across low points on the then abandoned Sage Creek and Scenic Basin headcut rims. This spillage eroded narrow northwest oriented valleys and drained water filling the two basins to the Cheyenne River valley while most of the ponded water drained in an east direction down the White River valley. The White River valley, Sage Creek and Scenic Basins, and the Cheyenne River valley were eroded by enormous quantities of southeast oriented water that also deeply eroded the entire South Dakota Badlands region. 



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

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