• A Sault-outlet-referenced mid- to late-Holocene paleohydrograph for Lake Superior constructed from strandplains of beach ridges

      Johnson, John W.; Thompson, Todd A.; Lepper, K.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Forman, S. L.; Johnston, John W.; Argyilan, Erin P.; Baedke, Steve J.; Indiana University; Indiana University Northwest; et al. (2012-10-01)
      The most detailed Lake Superior paleohydrograph relative to the current outlet near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario–Michigan, was constructed from four strandplains of beach ridges. This provides a history of water-level, glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), and the active outlet prior to monitoring and regulation. Four relative paleohydrographs that are offset and subparallel owing to differences in GIA were produced from 321 basal foreshore elevations and 56 optically stimulated luminescence ages. Subtracting modeled elevations in defined millennial lake phases between relative paleohydrographs and similarity between an inferred Sault Ste. Marie (hereinafter, Sault) paleohydrograph and data near the zero isobase corroborates rates of GIA derived from water-level gauges. A change in trend in the Sault paleohydrograph is related to the final separation of Lake Superior from Lakes Michigan and Huron and is the youngest age reported at 1060 +/- 100 years. A near-horizontal trend in the Sault paleohydrograph for the past millennium has an intercept that is close to the historical average for Lake Superior. A consistently linear trend from about 2 to 1 ka suggests a relatively stable outlet similar to the past millennium, but a decreasing trend from 3 to 1 ka suggests an outlet other than the Sault. Although intercept data beyond the last millennium are similar in elevation to the reported bedrock sill near Chicago (Hansel et al. 1985), we argue that the Port–Huron outlet was the active outlet during this time and the inferred paleohydrograph of Baedke and Thompson (2000) requires reevaluation.
    • Geomorphic and Sedimentologic Evidence for the Separation of Lake Superior from Lake Michigan and Huron

      Johnston, John W.; Thompson, Todd A.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Baedke, Steve J.; Indiana University - Bloomington; James Madison University; The College at Brockport (2007-01-01)
      A common break was recognized in four Lake Superior strandplain sequences using geomorphic and sedimentologic characteristics. Strandplains were divided into lakeward and landward sets of beach ridges using aerial photographs and topographic surveys to identify similar surficial features and core data to identify similar subsurface features. Cross-strandplain, elevation trend changes from a lowering towards the lake in the landward set of beach ridges to a rise or reduction of slope towards the lake in the lakeward set of beach ridges indicates that the break is associated with an outlet change for Lake Superior. Correlation of this break between study sites and age model results for the strandplain sequences suggest that the outlet change occurred sometime after about 2,400 calendar years ago (after the Algoma phase). Age model results from one site (Grand Traverse Bay) suggest an alternate age closer to about 1,200 calendar years ago but age models need to be investigated further. The landward part of the strandplain was deposited when water levels were common in all three upper Great Lakes basins (Superior, Huron, and Michigan) and drained through the Port Huron/Sarnia outlet. The lakeward part was deposited after the Sault outlet started to help regulate water levels in the Lake Superior basin. The landward beach ridges are commonly better defined and continuous across the embayments, more numerous, larger in relief, wider, have greater vegetation density, and intervening swales contain more standing water and peat than the lakeward set. Changes in drainage patterns, foreshore sediment thickness and grain size help in identifying the break between sets in the strandplain sequences. Investigation of these breaks may help identify possible gaps in the record or missing ridges in strandplain sequences that may not be apparent when viewing age distributions and may justify the need for multiple age and glacial isostatic adjustment models.
    • Late Holocene Lake-level Variation in Southeastern Lake Superior: Tahquamenon Bay, Michigan

      Johnston, John W.; Baedke, Steve J.; Booth, Robert K.; Thompson, Todd A.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Indiana University - Bloomington; James Madison University; Lehigh University; The College at Brockport (2004-01-01)
      Internal architecture and ages of 71 beach ridges in the Tahquamenon Bay embayment along the southeastern shore of Lake Superior on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were studied to generate a late Holocene relative lake-level curve. Establishing a long-term framework is important to examine the context of historic events and help predict potential future changes critical for effective water resource management. Ridges in the embayment formed between about 4,200 and 2,100 calendar years before 1950 (cal. yrs. B.P.) and were created and preserved every 28 ± 4.8 years on average. Groups of three to six beach ridges coupled with inflections in the lake-level curve indicate a history of lake levels fluctuations and outlet changes. A rapid lake-level drop (approximately 4 m) from about 4,100 to 3,800 cal. yrs. B.P. was associated with a fall from the Nipissing II high-water-level phase. A change from a gradual fall to a slight rise was associated with an outlet change from Port Huron, Michigan/Sarnia, Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan/Ontario. A complete outlet change occurred after the Algoma high-water-level phase (ca. 2,400 cal. yrs. B.P.). Preliminary rates of vertical ground movement calculated from the strandplain are much greater than rates calculated from historical and geologic data. High rates of vertical ground movement could have caused tectonism in the Whitefish Bay area, modifying the strandplain during the past 2,400 years. A tectonic event at or near the Sault outlet also may have been a factor in the outlet change from Port Huron/Sarnia to Sault Ste. Marie.
    • Mid Holocene lake level and shoreline behavior during the Nipissing phase of the upper Great Lakes at Alpena, Michigan, USA

      Thompson, Todd A.; Lepper, Kenneth; Endres, Anthony L.; Johnston, John W.; Baedke, Steve J.; Argyilan, Erin P.; Booth, Robert K.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Indiana University Northwest; James Madison University; et al. (2011-01-01)
      The Nipissing phase was the last pre-modern high-water stage of the upper Great Lakes. Represented as either a one- or two-peak highstand, the Nipissing occurred following a long-term lake-level rise. This transgression was primarily an erosional event with only the final stage of the transgression preserved as barriers, spits, and strandplains of beach ridges. South of Alpena, Michigan, mid to late Holocene coastal deposits occur as a strandplain between Devils Lake and Lake Huron. The landward part of this strandplain is a higher elevation platform that formed during the final stage of lake-level rise to the Nipissing peak. The pre-Nipissing shoreline transgressed over Devils Lake lagoonal deposits from 6.4 to 6.1 ka. The first beach ridge formed ~6 ka, and then the shoreline advanced toward Lake Huron, producing beach ridges about every 70 years. This depositional regression produced a slightly thickening wedge of sediment during a lake-level rise that formed 20 beach ridges. The rise ended at 4.5 ka at the Nipissing peak. This peak was short-lived, as lake level fell N4 m during the following 500 years. During this lake-level rise and subsequent fall, the shoreline underwent several forms of shoreline behavior, including erosional transgression, aggradation, depositional transgression, depositional regression, and forced regression. Other upper Great Lakes Nipissing platforms indicate that the lake-level change observed at Alpena of a rapid pre-Nipissing lake-level rise followed by a slower rise to the Nipissing peak, and a post-Nipissing rapid lake-level fall is representative of mid Holocene lake level in the upper Great Lakes.
    • Reconstructing Paleo Lake Levels from Relict Shorelines along the Upper Great Lakes

      Baedke, Steve J.; Thompson, Todd A.; Johnston, John W.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Indiana University - Bloomington; James Madison University; The College at Brockport (2004-01-01)
      Shorelines of the upper Great Lakes include many embayments that contain strandplains of beach ridges. These former shoreline positions of the lakes can be used to determine changes in the elevation of the lakes through time, and they also provide information on the warping of the ground surface that is occurring in the Great Lakes after the weight of glacial ice was removed. Relative lake-level hydrographs can be created by coring the beach ridges to determine the elevation of basal foreshore (swash zone) deposits in each ridge and by obtaining radiocarbon dates of basal wetland sediments between ridges to generate an age model for the ridges. Because the relative-level hydrographs are the combination of lake-level change and vertical ground movement (isostatic rebound), the rebound must be removed to produce a graph that shows only the physical limits and timing of past lake-level fluctuations referenced to a common outlet. More than 500 vibracores of beach-ridge sediments were collected at five sites along Lake Michigan and four sites along Lake Superior. The cores showed a sequence of dune deposits overlying foreshore deposits that, in turn, overlie upper shoreface deposits. The base of the foreshore deposits is coarser and more poorly sorted than an overlying and underlying sediment and represents the plunge-point sediments at the base of the swash zone. The plunge-point deposits are a close approximation of the elevation of the lake when the beach ridge formed. More than 150 radiocarbon ages of basal wetland sediments were collected to produce age models for the sites. Currently, age models exist for all Lake Michigan sites and one Lake Superior site. By combining the elevation data with the age models, six relative lake-level hydrographs were created for the upper Great Lakes. An iterative approach was used to remove rebound from the five Lake Michigan relative hydrographs and merge the graphs into a single hydrograph. The resultant hydrograph shows long-term patterns of lake-level change for lakes Michigan and Huron and is referenced to the Port Huron outlet. When the age models are completed for the Lake Superior sites, a hydrograph will be created for the entire lake.