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ABSTRACT

The Indiana Dunes is a name commonly used for the eastern part of the Calumet Lacustrine Plain, generally referring to the large dunes along the coast from Gary, Indiana, eastward to the Michigan state line. However, the Calumet Lacustrine Plain also contains complex coastal landscapes associated with late Wisconsin to Holocene phases of ancestral Lake Michigan (e.g., mainland-attached beaches, barrier beaches, spits), including those formed during quasi-periodic decadal and shorter-term waterlevel variability that characterize modern Lake Michigan (e.g., beach ridges, dunes, interdunal wetlands). Major industrial development and other human activities have impacted the Calumet Lacustrine Plain, often altering these landscapes beyond recognition. Today, geological and paleoenvironmental data are sought to inform regional environmental restoration and management efforts and to increase the resiliency of the coastal landscape to ongoing disturbances. During this field trip, we will examine the relict shorelines and their associated nearshore and onshore features and deposits across the Indiana portion of the Calumet Lacustrine Plain. These features and deposits record the dynamic interaction between coastal processes of Lake Michigan, lake-level change, and long-term longshore sediment transport during the past 15,000 yr. Participants will examine the modern beach, the extensive beach-ridge record of the Tolleston Beach strandplain, a relict dune field, and the large dunes of the modern shoreline, including Mount Baldy. At Mount Baldy, we will focus on the landscape response to human modification of the shoreline. We will also explore the science behind dune decomposition chimneys—collapse features that caused a 6-yr-old boy to become buried more than 3.5 m below the dune surface in 2013 and highlighted a previously unrecognized geologic hazard.

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