Geomorphic relations among glacial Lake Algonquin and the Munising and Grand Marais moraines in eastern Upper Michigan, USA

William L. Blewett, Scott A. Drzyzga, Laura Sherrod, Hong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data obtained from ground-penetrating radar (GPR), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, and geostatistical reconstructions of Lake Algonquin water planes indicate that high-standing outwash aprons flanking the Munising moraine's southern margin in eastern Upper Michigan terminate as large, coalescing Gilbert-type ice-contact deltas graded to the Main level of Lake Algonquin. Nearly 30. km of GPR imagery provides clear evidence of topset and foreset beds diagnostic of deltaic deposition. Landform assemblages suggest that the deltas likely evolved from subaqueous grounding line fans formed along a retreating ice margin characterized by widespread stagnation. In time, these deltas aggraded to the Main Lake Algonquin level as the ice margin stabilized. An OSL date of 12.5. ±. 1.1. ka on a nearby beach ridge associated with the Main Algonquin shoreline is consistent with this interpretation. These new data, coupled with the presence of nested fans at the downstream end of meltwater channels incised into the delta, indicate that Lake Algonquin was falling as delta deposition waned, eventually reaching a level concordant with the Lower Orillia level before final abandonment. Large, regionally extensive heads of outwash marking the crest of the Munising moraine are graded to the upper margins of these deltas and, by inference, must also correlate with Main Lake Algonquin and the associated Two Rivers deglaciation ca. 13-12.5. ka. The deltas, in turn, are conspicuously crosscut by outwash aprons that are graded to levels much lower than any recognized upper group Lake Algonquin shoreline. Because these aforementioned heads of outwash, part of Drexler and others' Grand Marais moraine, correlate with the Marquette moraine farther west, they likely date to the Marquette advance ca. 11.5. ka. Thus, landforms related to Two Rivers and to Marquette glaciations appear to comingle across the study area. In the absence of extensive exposures and datable materials, our work highlights the fact that crosscutting relationships and distinct differences in base level can provide an important first step for untangling the complicated landform relationships in this part of Michigan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-284
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


  • Grand Marais moraine
  • Ground-penetrating radar
  • Lake Algonquin
  • Michigan - geology
  • Munising moraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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