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University of Windsor invasive species research centre closes
CBC News (5/27)
The Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species, based at the University of Windsor, is closing because it's run out of federal funding.

Stockbridge HS invention to monitor Great Lakes pest
Lansing State Journal (5/27)
In Michigan, a team of Stockbridge High School students has spent the past year designing an underwater camera to keep tabs on the state’s fight against invasive sea lampreys. Next week their invention will get its first real test.

'Once in a lifetime ' experience: Lighthouse keeper on Lake Superior
CBC News (5/19)
A group is hiring two students to serve as lighthouse keepers this summer on Porphyry Island, about 40 kilometers east of Thunder Bay, Ont.

Superior students set sail for hands-on learning about St. Louis River, Lake Superior
Wisconsin Public Radio (5/16)
Close to 1,500 students from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin set sail for a day on St. Louis River to learn about the Great Lakes, as part of the week-long St. Louis River Quest.

Tree group aims to ‘ReLeaf’ Michigan
WKAR - East Lansing, MI (5/10)
An Ann Arbor-based organization has been planting trees all over Michigan since 1988. ReLeaf Michigan helps property owners learn about trees and how to plant them, citing their numerous benefits.

Coldwater bacteria threatens Great Lakes salmon
Charlevoix Courier (5/3)
A new study shows a bacterial disease that sickens fish whether raised in captivity or in the wild is imperiling popular salmon species in the Great Lakes Basin.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
TEACH Shoreline Geology

table of contents
Introduction: Glaciers and more glaciers
Let's go to the beach!
The sandy dunes
Marshes, bogs, and swamps
Isle Royale
Human impacts and the future
References


Great Lakes Shoreline Geology

Miners Castle. Click for larger image. From the wetlands along Lake Ontario's shore, to the sand dunes along Lake Michigan, to the rocky shore of Lake Superior, the Great Lakes shoreline abounds in diversity. Millions of years of glacial formation, wind, lava flows, and changing lake levels have sculpted a unique and ever changing shoreline. These shoreline systems absorb the brunt of wind and wave energy from the lakes, helping to protect the inland areas. Let's explore!

Glaciers and more glaciers

Six hundred million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era, central North America was covered by a shallow sea. This sea deposited a lot of sand, salts, and silts, which, after time, were compressed into limestone, sandstone, shale, halite, and gypsum.

Pleistocene glaciers. Click for larger image The sea retreated from the Great Lakes region before the end of the Paleozoic Era. Eventually, the earth cooled, and during the Pleistocene Epoch, about 1 million years ago, the ice ages began, and glaciers advanced and retreated many times over what is now the Great Lakes region. Being over one mile thick, these glaciers flattened and carved large holes in the land. Where they encountered more resistant bedrock, such as volcanic deposits, only the overlying layers were removed; but, the softer sandstone and shale allowed the glaciers to dig out the large basins that make up the Great Lakes today.

As the glaciers melted and began receding, their leading edges left behind high ridges and fascinating rock formations, some of which can be seen today in the cliffs of Door County, Wisconsin, and the "flowerpots" on Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. Flowerpot Island. Click for larger image.Huge lakes formed between these ridges from the retreating ice fronts. As many as 8-12 ice ages occurred, each lasting around 50,000 years; during the longer, warmer periods in between each ice age, plants and wildlife returned to the area.

The last glacier began retreating around 14,000 years ago, and the earth warmed considerably. As the glaciers melted, the resulting water, called meltwater, filled the huge holes left by the glaciers. During this time, the lakes were much larger than they are now, and they had different river outlets. But as the ice retreated, the St. Lawrence River Valley revealed itself as the outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, and the lake levels eventually dropped to current levels.


See the TEACH topic How the Lakes were Formed for a more detailed discussion on glacial formation.

Graphics: Miners Castle on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; glacial advance during the Pleistocene Epoch; and, a "flowerpot" on Flowerpot Island on Bruce Peninsula

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