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Funding milestone reached for Aquatic Research Lab expansion
The Sault Ste. Marie Evening News (6/13)
Both houses of Michiganís legislature have approved nearly $9 million in funding for an expansion of Lake Superior State Universityís successful Aquatic Research Lab (ARL).

Students dive, document Sheboygan shipwreck
Sheboygan Press (6/13)
A team of budding nautical archaeologists from East Carolina University dove below the waves of Lake Michigan to discover what treasures lay hidden on the sandy bottom.

Island living and working at Thousand Islands Biological Station in Clayton
The Syracuse Post-Standard (6/8)
Many apply, but few are chosen for the limited number of scientific research positions each year at the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS). The SUNY ESF research facility is located on Governor's Island in the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY.

Gems emerge in eel study
The Cornwall Standard Freeholder (5/31)
In Ontario, an ongoing study of American eel habitat on the St. Lawrence River has a preeminent biology professor and masters student charting some uncharted waters in fisheries research.

Lake Superior State celebrating 30 years of salmon releases
The Associated Press (5/29)
In Michigan, the Aquatic Research Laboratory at Lake Superior State University is celebrating three decades of raising and releasing Atlantic salmon in the St. Marys River.

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

2 | Let's go to the beach!

Frankfort, Michigan. Click for larger image. How are beaches created?
The most common type of shoreline in the Great Lakes region is the sand beach. Sand is deposited on beaches when the waves from the lake move it up from the lake bottom to the shoreline, and the sandy shorelines are ever changing. Littoral transport carries sedimentary material both parallel to the shore (longshore transport) and perpendicular to the shore (on-offshore transport). The wind can also transport sand, carrying both large and small grains and depositing them either up or downshore. Humans can also transport sand. For example, non-contaminated sand dredged from lake bottoms is sometimes added to a beach to increase its size or to replace beach sand that has eroded.

Sand sculpture. Click for larger image. Why are beaches important?
Because the land and water are constantly meeting one another, many different life forms inhabit a beach, such as algae and other microfauna. Therefore, beaches are rich feeding grounds for migratory shorebirds. The beach also collects driftwood and other debris that a variety of beetles, spiders, and shorebirds like to feed upon. Shoals, sandbars, and spits often protect marshes and other wetlands from excessive wave and wind action. Spits, such as Long Point on Lake Erie and Oak Point on Lake Superior, may provide a habitat for plant and animal communities. And, of course, beaches are great places for us to go swimming!

What is sand made of?
Quartz. Sand consists of rocks, crystals, and sea shells that are eroded over a long period of time by wind, water, and ice. The composition of sand can change greatly from beach to beach. For example, the black sand beaches of Hawaii are composed of volcanic ash and rocks, while the white beaches of the Caribbean consist of sea shells. The tan-colored beaches around the Great Lakes area are made up mostly of grains of quartz.

Ancient beaches
Although no longer located on a body of water, beach ridges are common in the Great Lakes region. These ancient ridges formed the seashores of the proglacial lakes, and were left behind as the lakes' levels dropped to their current elevations. The Ridges Sanctuary in Door County, Wis., contains 16 beach ridge formations. Another ancient beach ridge formation runs from the present day Maumee River, past Toledo, Ohio, and into southern Michigan.

See also GLIN's Beaches page, and BeachWatch, Recipe for a Beach


Graphics: beach at Frankfort, Michigan; sand sculpture; and, a sample of quartz

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