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Scientific Investigations Map 3331

Geologic Map of the Orchard 7.5' Quadrangle, Morgan County, Colorado

By Margaret E. Berry, Janet L. Slate, Paul R. Hanson, and Theodore R. Brandt

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (71.3 MB)Abstract

The Orchard 7.5' quadrangle is located along the South Platte River corridor on the semi-arid plains of eastern Colorado, and contains surficial deposits that record alluvial, eolian, and hillslope processes that have operated through environmental changes from the Pleistocene to the present. The South Platte River, originating high in the Colorado Front Range, has played a major role in shaping the geology of the quadrangle, which is situated downstream of where the last of the major headwater tributaries (St. Vrain, Big Thompson, and Cache la Poudre) join the river. Recurrent glaciation (and deglaciation) of basin headwaters affected river discharge and sediment supply far downstream, influencing alluvium deposition and terrace formation in the Orchard quadrangle. Kiowa and Bijou Creeks, unglaciated tributaries originating east of the Front Range also have played a major role by periodically delivering large volumes of sediment to the river during flood events, which may have temporarily dammed the river. Eolian sand deposits of the Greeley (north of river) and Fort Morgan (south of river) dune fields cover much of the quadrangle and record past episodes of sand mobilization during times of drought. With the onset of irrigation during historic times, the South Platte River has changed from a broad, shallow, and sandy braided river with highly seasonal discharge to a much narrower, deeper river with braided-meandering transition morphology and more uniform discharge. Along this reach, the river has incised into Upper Cretaceous Pierre Shale, which, although buried by alluvial deposits in Orchard quadrangle, is locally exposed downstream along the South Platte River bluff near the Bijou Creek confluence, in some of the larger draws, and along Wildcat Creek.

First posted June 22, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, Mail Stop 980
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Berry, M.E., Slate, J.L., Hanson, P.R., and Brandt, T.R., 2015, Geologic map of the Orchard 7.5' quadrangle, Morgan County, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3331, 1 sheet, 1:24,000,

ISSN 2329–132X (online)

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