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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.


Papers prepared by American or Canadian government employees as part of their official duties need not have the assignment of copyright transferred since this material is automatically considered as part of the public domain.

Dr. DOUGLAS A. WILCOX was a federal employee of the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Johnston, J.W., S.J. Baedke, R.K. Booth, T.A. Thompson, and D.A. Wilcox. 2004. Late Holocene lake-level variation in southeastern Lake Superior: Tahquamenon Bay, Michigan. Journal of Great Lakes Research 30(Supplement 1):1-19.