Todd Thompson
Geological Research at the IGS

Late Holocene lake level of Lake Superior

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Jul 1, 1999 Jun 30, 2004 Outside Indiana
Director: Todd Thompson
Other Researchers: John W. Johnston, Steve J. Baedke, Doug A. Wilcox
Funding: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - Global Climate Change Program
Issue: Fluctuations in lake level are a primary control on shoreline behavior throughout the Great Lakes. This is especially true for the sandy coastlines of northwestern Indiana. The historical record from lake-level gauges is too short to statistically recognize patterns of lake-level change that are longer than about 10 years. A longer record of lake-level fluctuations can be created by using the geologic record.
Objective: The purpose of this project is to determine the physical limits and timing of past lake-level fluctuations during the last 5,000 years.
Approach: Vibracores were collected of swash zone sediments within beach ridges to determine the elevation of the lake. Basal wetland sediments (peat and organic sands) from the swales between beach ridges were radiocarbon dated to date the age of the beach ridges. From the elevation and age information relative lake-level curves were constructed.
Products: Reports and presentations
Benefits: The results of the study can be used to develop coastal management plans.
Publications:

Geomorphic and sedimentologic evidence for the separation of Lake Superior from Lake Michigan and Huron
Johnston, J.W, Thompson, T.A., Wilcox, D.A., and Baedke, S.J., 2007, Geomorphic and sedimentologic evidence for the separation of Lake Superior from Lake Michigan and Huron. Journal of Paleolimnology, v.37, p.349-364.

Geomorphic expression of late Holocene lake levels and paleowinds in the upper Great Lakes
Thompson, T.A., Baedke, S.J., and Johnston, J.W., 2004. Geomorphic expression of late Holocene lake levels and paleowinds in the upper Great Lakes. In Hansen, E.C., ed., The Geology and Geomorphology of Lake Michigan’s Coast. Michigan Academician, v. 35, n. 4, p.355-371.

Lake-level variability and water availability in the Great Lakes
Wilcox, D.A., Thompson, T.A., Booth, R.K., and Nicholas, J.R. 2007, Lake-level variability and water availability in the Great Lakes. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1311, 25p.

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

Paleoecology of a northern Michigan lake and the relationship among climate, vegetation, and Great Lakes water levels
Booth, R.K., Jackson, S.T., and Thompson, T.A., 2002. Paleoecology of a northern Michigan lake and the relationship among climate, vegetation, and Great Lakes water levels. Quaternary Research, v. 57, n. 1, p. 120-130.

Reconstructing paleo lake levels from relict shorelines along the Upper Great Lakes
Baedke, S.J., Thompson, T.A., Johnston, J.W., and Wilcox, D.A., 2004. Reconstructing paleo lake levels from relict shorelines along the Upper Great Lakes. Aquatic Ecosystems Health & Management; Special Issue: Emerging Issues in Lake Superior Research, v. 7, n. 4, p. 435-449.

Sault-outlet-referenced mid- to late-Holocene paleohydrograph for Lake Superior constructed from strandplains of beach ridges
Johnston, J.W., Argyilan, E.P., Thompson, T.A.,Baedke, S.J., Lepper, K., Wilcox, D.A., and Forman, S.L. 2012. A Sault-outlet-referenced mid- to late-Holocene paleohydrograph for Lake Superior constructed from strandplains of beach ridges. Canandian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 49.

Stable isotope ratios in swale sequences of Lake Superior as indicators of climate and lake level fluctuations during the Late Holocene
Sharma, S., Mora, G., Johnston, J.W., Thompson, T.A., 2005. Stable isotope ratios in swale sequences of Lake Superior as indicators of climate and lake level fluctuations during the Late Holocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 24, p. 1941-1951.

Systematic pattern of beach-ridge development and preservation: Conceptual model and evidence from ground penetrating radar
Johnston, J.W., Thompson, T.A., and Baedke, S.J., 2007, Systematic pattern of beach-ridge development and preservation: Conceptual model and evidence from ground penetrating radar, in Baker, G.S., and Jol, H.M., eds., Stratigraphic Analyses Using GPR: Geological Society of America Special Paper 432, p. 47–58.

Where land meets the water: understanding wetlands of the Great lakes
Environment Canada (Albert, D., Gannon, J., McCracken, J., Patterson, N., Thompson, T.A., Weeber, R., Whillans, T., and Wilcox, D.A., contributors), 2002., Where land meets the water: understanding wetlands of the Great lakes. Environment Canada, Toronto, Canada, 72p.

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