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Analysis of Medicine Bow-Laramie River Drainage Divide Using Topographic Map Interpretation Techniques, Southeastern Wyoming, USA

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Document pages: 19 pages

Abstract: Detailed topographic maps provide much of the information needed to understand how drainage divides like the southeast Wyoming Medicine Bow River-Laramie River drainage divide originated. Topographic map evidence for each Medicine Bow-Laramie River drainage divide segment is here described and analyzed first using a commonly published interpretation (accepted paradigm) in which drainage routes developed on a surface of now mostly absent Oligocene and Miocene sediments that previous investigators have hypothesized to have once filled the Laramie Basin and to have also buried (or partially buried) the surrounding Laramie and Medicine Bow Mountains. Second, the same map evidence is analyzed using a recently proposed interpretation (new paradigm) in which massive and prolonged floods flowed across Wyoming as the Laramie and Medicine Bow Mountains began to be uplifted and as the southeast-oriented North Platte River valley eroded headward along the rising Laramie Mountains northeast flank. Low points along the drainage divide (referred to as divide crossings) are interpreted to be places where water once flowed across the drainage divide with the drainage divide being formed when capture events diverted the water in other directions. Valleys leading away from divide crossings are used to determine the nature of observed capture events, many of which are difficult or impossible to explain from the accepted paradigm perspective, but which are consistent with the mountain uplift, headward erosion of deeper valleys, and or draining of floodwaters trapped in the Laramie Basin as the new paradigm predicts. However, the new paradigm requires a North American continental ice sheet heavy enough to raise entire regions and mountain ranges as massive and prolonged meltwater floods flowed across them, something the accepted paradigm does not recognize.

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