Contrasting terrains of the Lake Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in southern Michigan
Published:January 01, 2013
Alan E. Kehew, Andrew L. Kozlowski, Brian C. Bird, John M. Esch, 2013. "Contrasting terrains of the Lake Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in southern Michigan", Insights into the Michigan Basin, Robb Gillespie
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Recent mapping in southwestern Michigan conducted through U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP, EDMAP, and Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition projects has produced new interpretations of the origin of the landforms and sediments of the Lake Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and the dynamics of these lobes. The Lake Michigan lobe advanced southeastward into a proglacial lake at least as far east as the Kalamazoo moraine. During its advance, the lobe extensively deformed the lacustrine sediments it overrode. These structures will be discussed in several pits. When ice backed away from the Kalamazoo moraine, it formed a series of proglacial lakes, several of which were described for the first time in the studies upon which this guidebook is based. As the ice retreated, lowland areas between morainal uplands were utilized by meltwater drainage events, some of them probably catastrophic in nature.
The Saginaw lobe stagnated over a broad marginal area as it retreated northeastward toward Saginaw Bay. The resulting stagnant marginal zone is coincident with the subcrop of the Marshall Sandstone. Enhanced basal drainage into the underlying sandstone may have played a role in the dynamics of the lobe. High-relief, supraglacial landforms such as hummocky topography and ice-walled lake plains overprint subglacial landforms in this region, which include large tunnel valleys with inset eskers. Better understanding of the glacial geology of this region is critical to economic development, management of water resources, and exploration for aggregates and other resources.
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Insights into the Michigan Basin
This guidebook volume is a compilation of field excursions offered at the 47th annual meeting of the North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America, held in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2013. These field trips examine a wide range of geological time intervals and topics, from Silurian salt, to Cretaceous cosmic impact, to newly interpreted Mississippian–Pennsylvanian Michigan stratigraphy, to Quaternary glacial landscape formation, sand dune development, and present-day coastal bluff stability/erosion issues. Trips geographically range throughout southern Michigan and northern Indiana from Detroit, Michigan, in the east to the Kentland Quarry in Indiana to the west.
Early depositional events within the Michigan Basin are examined deep underground in the Detroit Salt Mine (trip leaders: W.B. Harrison III and E.Z. Manos [onsite leader]). This salt mine has been in operation for more than 100 years, and extends for miles beneath the city of Detroit.
Kentland Quarry, located in northwest Indiana, is the site of a Cretaceous-aged meteorite impact (trip leader: J.C. Weber). This site allows for surface examination of a similar style impact event that occurred in now buried Ordovician-age (Trenton) rocks located in Cass County, (southwest) Michigan.
Mississippian-aged fluvial deposits have been traditionally classified as the youngest bedrock exposed in Michigan. These rocks crop out in the center of the Michigan Basin near Grand Ledge, Michigan (trip leaders: N.B.H. Venable, D.A. Barnes, D.B. Westjohn, and P.J. Voice). Younger, more recently identified, Pennsylvanian rocks will be the subject of a related core workshop at the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education (MGRRE) in Kalamazoo (workshop leaders: S. Towne, W.B. Harrison, and D.B. Westjohn).
The regional, surficial geology of southwest Michigan is highlighted by three field trips. The first trip details the glacial landforms and sedimentary features formed by the differing dynamics of the Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (trip leaders: A.E. Kehew, A.L. Kozlowski, B.C. Bird, and J.M. Esch). The two other trips follow along the Lake Michigan eastern shoreline and examine development of sand dune complexes (trip leader: E. Hansen) and present-day, coastal bluff stability and erosion issues (trip leaders: R.B. Chase and J.P. Selegean).