Core Creek Elbow of Capture East of Newtown, PA

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The Core Creek Elbow of Capture east of Newtown, PA poses an intriguing problem as Core Creek first flows in a southeast direction toward the nearby Delaware River and then abruptly turns to flow in a southwest direction to eventually join Neshaminy Creek. Further shallow west-southwest to east-northeast oriented through valleys link the southeast and southwest oriented Core Creek valley with the south oriented Newtown Creek valley to the west (with Newtown Creek also being a Neshaminy Creek tributary). Why does Core Creek flow in a southeast direction toward the Delaware River and then abruptly change its direction to flow in a southwest direction to join Neshaminy Creek?

CoreCreek

Figure 1: Core Creek flows in a southeast direction from location 1 to location 2 and then turns to flow in a southwest and south direction to location 3 and south of figure 1 joins Neshaminy Creek. The Core Creek elbow of capture is at location 2. United States Geological Survey map digitally presented using National Geographic TOPO software. 

Figure 1 illustrates the Core Creek Elbow of Capture and surrounding region. The Delaware River flows in a south-southeast oriented valley at an elevation of less than 40 feet. Core Creek originates at an elevation of approximately 290 feet at location 1 and then flows in a southeast direction to location 2 (elevation between 160 and 180 feet). At location 2 Core Creek abruptly turns and flows in a southwest and south direction to location 3 (elevation between 100 and 120 feet) and south of figure 1 joins Neshaminy Creek. West of Core Creek is Newtown Creek, which flows in a south direction to location 4 and then an east direction to location 5 (elevation about 220 feet). At location 5 Newtown Creek turns to flow in a south direction to location 6 (elevation between 100 and 120 feet) and south of figure 1 joins Neshaminy Creek.

Enclosed within the triangle formed by the southeast and southwest oriented Core Creek route and the south oriented Core Creek route is a hill with an elevation greater than 320 feet. This hill is streamlined in a west-southwest to east-northeast direction by shallow through valleys along its north and south flanks. The northern through valley links the south oriented Newtown Creek valley with the southeast oriented Core Creek headwaters valley. The southern through valley links the south oriented Newtown Creek valley with the southwest oriented Core Creek valley segment. The through valleys suggest that prior to headward erosion of the Core Creek valley (and of the Delaware River valley) water once flowed in a west-southwest direction in the two parallel through valleys to reach the south oriented Newtown Creek valley.

Being located east of this hill the Core Creek Elbow of Capture is also located east of the ridge forming the highest points between the south oriented Newtown Creek valley to the west and the south oriented Delaware River valley to the east, which means it is located on the slope leading down into the Delaware River valley. The Core Creek Elbow of Capture is probably evidence the south oriented Neshaminy Creek valley (to the west of figure 1) and the south oriented Delaware River valley eroded headward at approximately the same time. The two south oriented valleys probably eroded headward across southwest or west-southwest oriented diverging and converging flood flow channels in what was a large flood formed anastomosing channel complex.

The south oriented Newtown Creek valley first eroded headward from the actively eroding Neshaminy Creek valley to capture the west-southwest oriented flood flow. At the same time a south and southwest oriented valley began to erode headward from the Neshaminy Creek valley along at least segments of some of the southwest oriented flood flow channels. But before the south and southwest oriented valley had captured all of the west-southwest oriented flood flow the southeast oriented Core Creek headwaters valley segment was probably initiated as a shallow southeast oriented channel began to erode headward from the actively eroding south oriented Delaware River valley to capture the same west-southwest oriented flood flow. The south and southwest oriented Core Creek valley was slightly deeper and as a result was successful in capturing the southeast oriented channel that had been forming on the present day southeast oriented Core Creek segment, and in doing so created the Core Creek Elbow of Capture.

 

 

 

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