Title of Chapter/Section

A previously unrecognized path of early Holocene base flow and elevated discharge from Lake Minong to Lake Chippewa across eastern Upper Michigan

Title of Book

Coastline and dune evolution along the Great Lakes

Editor(s) of Book

Fisher, Timothy Gordon; and Hansen, Edward C.


Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Document Type

Book Section/Chapter

Place of Publication

Boulder, CO


Geological Society of America

Year of Publication


Series (if applicable)

Special paper

Series Volume (if applicable)


Page Range



It has long been hypothesized that flux of fresh meltwater from glacial Lake Minong in North America's Superior Basin to the North Atlantic Ocean triggered rapid climatic shifts during the early Holocene. The spatial context of recent support for this idea demands a reevaluation of the exit point of meltwater from the Superior Basin. We used ground penetrating radar (GPR), foundation borings from six highway bridges, a GIS model of surface topography, geologic maps, U.S. Department of Agriculture–Natural Resources Conservation Service soils maps, and well logs to investigate the possible linkage of Lake Minong with Lake Chippewa in the Lake Michigan Basin across eastern Upper Michigan. GPR suggests that a connecting channel lies buried beneath the present interlake divide at Danaher. A single optical age hints that the channel aggraded to 225 m as elevated receipt of Lake Agassiz meltwater in the Superior Basin began to wane <10.6 ka. The large supply of sediment required to accommodate aggradation was immediately available at the channel's edge in the littoral shelves of abandoned Lake Algonquin and in distal parts of post-Algonquin fans. As discharge decreased further, the aggraded channel floor was quickly breached and interbasin flow to Lake Chippewa was restored. Basal radiocarbon ages on wood from small lakes along the discharge path and a GIS model of Minong's shoreline are consistent with another transgression of Minong after ca. 9.5 ka. At the peak of the latter transgression, the southeastern rim of the Superior Basin (Nadoway Drift Barrier) failed, ending Lake Minong. Upon Minong's final drop, aggradational sediments were deposited at Danaher, infilling the prior breach.