Geology and Geomorphology

The basin lies in three physiographic regions (Figure Ge01): the Osage Plains region of the Central Lowland, and the Springfield Plateau and Salem Plateau subregions of the Ozark Plateau. Approximately 65% of the basin lies within the Osage Plains and includes the major drainage areas of the Marmaton and Marais des Cygnes rivers. The entire Weaubleau subbasin, plus small eastern sections of the Monegaw subbasin, and the Clear Creek subbasin occur within the Ozark Plateau (MDNR 1986a).

Geology

The unglaciated basin (Figure Ge02) is Pennsylvanian rock overlain with up to six feet of loess in the uplands. This Pennsylvanian strata of shale, coal and clay hinders the movement of water into the subsurface. Limited water movement results in very few springs. Therefore, stream flow is primarily sustained by surface precipitation and runoff. Baseflow is not well sustained during dry periods. Mississippian limestone is prevalent in eastern St. Clair and western Hickory counties. This area contains drainages within the Weaubleau subbasin (MDNR 1984).

Soils are primarily Cherokee Prairie. These are derived from Pennsylvania shales and sandstones with a silty, loess surface mantle. They are primarily dark to moderately dark in color, silty and of medium acidity in the northern part of the basin, grading into lighter colored, strongly acidic and highly leached soils in the southern areas. Relief is level to gently sloping with wide, flat stream valleys. Problems are erosion, wetness and droughtiness (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] 1970).

Some Ozark Border soils occur in St. Clair, Hickory and Benton counties. These are derived from Mississippian and Ordovician limestone, dolomite and chert, and are typically erosive, droughty and stony in nature. The Ozark Border area is highly dissected with gently rolling divides and steep, stony slopes. Stream valleys are narrow, subject to flash flooding, and have soils of variable depth, texture and drainage (USDA 1970).

The basin contains 2,364 streams with a total combined length of 3,586 miles. The largest is the Osage River, an eighth order stream, 98.5 miles long. Essentially the entire length of the Osage River above Truman Dam is affected by Truman Lake. River banks are exposed above the confluence of the Sac and Osage rivers (57.5 miles above Truman Dam), however, all riffle areas are inundated. The two largest tributaries are the Marais des Cygnes and Marmaton rivers.

Information on stream orders, lengths, watersheds, and locations is presented in Table Ge01 and Table Ge02. Data on orders, lengths, and locations were obtained or calculated from United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5-minute topographic maps. Watershed area information is from Funk (1968) and USDA (1981).

Gradient information for major streams (fourth order and larger streams, longer than 10 miles) was obtained or calculated from USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps, using a digitizer and the computer program MAPWORK. Data provide only general approximations of stream gradients. Topographic maps date from 1927 to 1982, and elevation changes on maps occur in five, 10 or 20 feet intervals. Graphs of entire streams, upper and lower reaches of larger streams, and some subbasins are presented in Appendix A. Average gradients and locations of Department of Conservation areas are included above the streams on each graph.

Average gradients for entire streams range from 0.81 ft/mi (the original channel of the Marais des Cygnes River) to 25.3 ft/mi (Little Clear Creek). Streams entering from the western section of the basin have lower average gradients than streams entering from the eastern portion. This difference reflects the transition from Osage Plains to Ozark Plateau streams.

The Weaubleau, Hogles, and Bear Creeks subbasin is in eastern St.Clair, southwestern Benton, and western Hickory and north-central Polk counties within the Springfield and Salem plateaus. Weaubleau Creek (4th order) originates in north-central Polk County, flows northwest to the Osage River (49.3 miles above Truman Dam) and drains 139 mi2 (USDA 1981). Its largest tributary is Little Weaubleau Creek (4th order). Hogles Creek (4th order) begins in west-central Hickory county, flows north to the Osage River (10.2 miles above Truman Dam) and has a drainage area of 61 mi2 (USDA 1981). Bear Creek (4th order) starts in west-central Hickory county, flows northwest to the Osage River (45 miles above Truman Dam) and has a watershed of 26 mi2 (USDA 1981).

Average gradients are 11.1 ft/mi for Weaubleau Creek and 13.4 ft/mi for Hogles Creek. Three major tributaries to Weaubleau Creek have substantially larger average gradients; 41.5 ft/mi for Clear Creek, 22.2 ft/mi for the South Fork of Weaubleau Creek and 22.6 ft/mi for Little Weaubleau Creek (Appendix A).

The Monegaw and Gallinipper Creeks subbasin is in St. Clair, southeastern Bates, northeastern Vernon and extreme southwestern Henry counties primarily within the Osage Plains. A small section in eastern St. Clair County, including most of Gallinipper Creek, is within the Springfield Plateau. The largest streams are Monegaw Creek, Little Monegaw Creek, Panther Creek and Gallinipper Creek.

Monegaw Creek (5th order) arises in extreme southwestern Henry County, flows southeast to the Osage River (68.8 miles above Truman Dam) and drains 82 mi2 (USDA 1981). Little Monegaw Creek (5th order) originates in north central St. Clair County, flows south to the Osage River (67.5 miles above Truman Dam) and has a watershed of 34 mi2 (Funk 1968). Panther Creek (4th order) begins in southeastern Bates County, flows south to the Osage River (88.7 miles above Truman Dam) and drains 59 mi2 (USDA 1981). Gallinipper Creek (4th order) originates in central St.Clair County, flows southeast to the Osage River (53.4 miles above Truman dam), and has a watershed of 34 mi2, primarily within the Springfield Plateau (USDA 1981). Average gradients are 9.2 for Monegaw Creek, 10.5 for Little Monegaw Creek and 12.3 for Panther Creek (Appendix A).

The Clear Creek subbasin is in eastern Vernon, northeastern Barton, northwestern Cedar and southwestern St. Clair counties which are primarily within the Osage Plains. The lower reach of Clear Creek and all of Little Clear Creek are within the Springfield Plateau. Major streams are Clear Creek and its two largest tributaries, the West Fork of Clear Creek and Little Clear Creek.

Clear Creek (6th order) starts in northeastern Barton County, flows northeast to the Osage river (75.3 miles above Truman dam) and has a watershed of 330 mi2 (USDA 1981). The West Fork of Clear Creek (5th order) arises in east central Vernon County, flows northeast to Clear Creek (RM 24.2) and drains 75 mi2 (Funk 1968). Little Clear Creek (4th order) originates in northwestern Cedar County, flows north to Clear Creek (RM 2.9) and has a drainage area of 28 mi2 (Funk 1968).

Average gradients are 4.7 ft/mi for Clear Creek and 8.1 ft/mi for the West Fork of Clear Creek. Little Clear Creek, located within the Springfield Plateau, has a substantially higher gradient of 25.3 ft/mi. Individual stream gradients and combined graphs are presented in Appendix A.

The Marais des Cygnes River subbasin is located in Bates County within the Osage Plains. The upper reaches of the Marais des Cygnes River, Walnut Creek and Mine Creek occur in Kansas. The watershed encompasses 3,230 mi2 in Kansas (at the Kansas-Missouri state line) and 474 mi2 in Missouri (USDA 1981, Corps of Engineers [COE] 1985).

The Marais des Cygnes River (7th order) originates in Wabaunsee County in east central Kansas, and flows southeast 184.0 miles through Kansas and 33.8 miles in Missouri (the current channel). The original Marais des Cygnes River channel in Missouri was 52.2 miles in length. All but six miles were channelized in the early 1900s, creating the Bates County Drainage Ditch (Atkenson 1918). This channelization changed stream length and order, resulting in a loss of 9.5 miles of 7th order stream and 8.9 miles of 6th order stream. The current river channel includes the first 14 miles of the Marais des Cygnes River where it then flows into the Bates County Drainage Ditch. Three confluences occur; the original Marais des Cygnes River channel joins the Marmaton River (RM 4.6), and the Bates County Drainage Ditch merges with the Marmaton River and the Osage River (93.8 miles above Truman Dam). The Osage River originates at the confluence of the Bates County Drainage Ditch (RM 2.0) and the Marmaton River.

Major tributaries to the Marais des Cygnes River are Miami Creek (including the Miami Drainage Ditch) and Walnut Creek. Miami Creek (6th order) begins in extreme northwestern Bates County. The original channel flows southeast for 39.2 miles to its confluence with the Marais des Cygnes River (RM 22.7). Channelization of the lower 4.5 miles of Miami Creek during the early 1900s created the Miami Drainage Ditch (6th order). This channelization moved the mouth of Miami Creek nine miles down the original channel of the Marais des Cygnes River and increased the 6th order stream reach 1.4 miles. The watersheds are 149 mi2 for Miami Creek and 60 mi2 for the Miami Drainage Ditch (USDA 1981). Walnut Creek (5th order) arises in southeastern Linn County, Kansas, flows northeast and has a drainage area of 48 mi2 (Funk 1968).

Two additional major streams are tributaries to Miami Creek. Double Branch (5th order) commences in south central Bates County, flows southwest and drains 31 mi2 (Funk 1968). Mound Branch (5th order) starts in central Bates County, flows southwest and has a watershed of 49 mi2 (USDA 1981).

Average gradients range from 0.8 ft/mi to 24.4 ft/mi. Double Branch has a much higher gradient (24.4 ft/mi) than the other streams. Individual stream gradients and two combined plots (Marais des Cygnes River subbasin, and Bates County Drainage Ditch and Marmaton River) are presented in Appendix A.

The Marmaton River and Little Osage River subbasin is in Vernon and southern Bates counties within the Osage Plains. The upper reaches of the Marmaton River, Little Osage River and Shiloh Creek occur in Kansas. The basin’s watershed encompasses 688 mi2 in Kansas and 333 mi2 in Missouri (USDA 1981, COE 1985).

The Marmaton River (7th order) originates in Allen County in southeastern Kansas. It flows northeast 63.7 miles through Kansas and 51.7 miles in Missouri where it then joins the Bates County Drainage Ditch and forms the Osage River. The drainage area is 393 mi2 at Fort Scott, Kansas, and 143 mi2 in Missouri (USDA 1981, COE 1985).

The largest tributary to the Marmaton River within this subbasin is the Little Osage River. This river begins in Allen County in southeastern Kansas. It flows east 46.0 miles through Kansas and 29.9 miles in Missouri before joining the Marmaton River (RM 17.6). The watershed encompasses 295 mi2 at Fulton, Kansas, and 190 mi2 in Missouri (USDA 1981, COE 1985).

Average gradients are 0.9 ft/mi for the Marmaton River and 1.3 ft/mi for the Little Osage River. Individual stream gradients plus a combined plot are presented in Appendix A.

The Dry Wood and Little Dry Wood creeks subbasin is in Vernon and northern Barton counties within the Osage Plains. Major streams include Dry Wood Creek, the West Fork of Dry Wood Creek and Little Dry Wood Creek. The upper reaches of the West Fork of Dry Wood Creek, Moores Branch, Bucks Run, and Second Nicolson Creek occur in Kansas.

Dry Wood Creek (6th order) starts in northwestern Barton County, flows north to the Marmaton River (RM 40.9), and drains 128 mi2 in Kansas and 218 mi2 in Missouri (USDA 1981, COE 1984). The West Fork of Dry Wood Creek (5th order), its largest tributary, arises in northeastern Crawford County, Kansas, and flows northeast for 15 miles through Kansas and 7 miles in Missouri. Little Dry Wood Creek (5th order) originates in north central Barton County, flows north to the Marmaton River (RM 33.6) and drains 179 mi2 (USDA 1981).

Average gradients are 2.7 ft/mi for Dry Wood Creek, 1.7 for the West Fork of Dry Wood Creek and 5.6 for Little Dry Wood Creek. Individual stream gradients plus a combined plot are presented in Appendix A.

Figure Ge01: Location of the West Osage River watershed within the Osage Plains

Location map of the West Osage River watershed within the Osage Plains and Springfield Plateau sections of Missouri's Ozark Natural Division.

Figure Ge02: Geology of West Osage River Watershed

Geology map of West Osage River Watershed

Table Ge01: Stream name, order, length watershed area and location

Stream name, order, length watershed area and location (name of the stream it confluences with and river mile) for third-order and larger streams in the West Osage River Basin in west-central Missouri.

Table Ge02: Mileage and orders for streams in the West Osage River Basin in west-central Missouri

Mileage and orders for streams in the West Osage River Basin in west-central Missouri