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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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