Beginning about one million years ago climatic changes caused winters to lengthen in the northern part of the continent, and snowfall to increase but not melt in the short, cool summers. Great masses of ice accumulated over a period of years in the Hudson Bay region to form continental glaciers similar to the two-mile thick ice caps of Greenland and . Altogether during the Great , there were four or five major glacial advances. Interspersed between advances, climates moderated and soils developed. In , records of by the early invasions have been obliterated or buried and we refer mostly to the last major advance and retreat of R. W. KELLEY the glaciers, called the Wisconsin Stage. Sketches by Jim Campbell Ice fanned out prominently from the Laurentian *Article originally published in Michigan Conservation, Special Great Highlands, east of Hudson Bay, and pushed southward Issue, July-August 1960, Vol. XXIX, No. 4: Michigan Department to central , , and . The earlier stages of Conservation, Lansing, Michigan. had advanced as far south as the . As the Just a few years ago, geologically speaking, a glacier Wisconsin glacier moved forward, it enveloped the loose passed this way, and that's why the Midwest has the surface materials developed during the earlier stages. It . also worked into breaches and around ledges in exposed bedrock and plucked off chunks. By the time it How do we know a glacier passed this way? There are reached Michigan, the ice had incorporated an no glaciers within hundreds of miles of the Great Lakes enormous volume of all kinds of rock debris. today and the ice fields of are restricted to isolated mountainous areas of the northwest. But let's Prior to glaciation, the Michigan area had been above look at the evidence. sea level for some 200 million years. Since there is no record of deposition that can be correlated with deposits Studies of existing glaciers reveal the mechanics of ice of this age in other adjacent areas, it is assumed that movement and the nature of glacial deposits, so that erosion was taking place. Probably great river systems, comparisons with Michigan soils leave no doubt about drained eastward, were eroding valleys in the areas now their glacial origin. occupied by the individual basins of the Great Lakes. As One characteristic of glacial deposits is their variety of the glacier approached the Great Lakes area, it took the rock from widely scattered geographic areas. A good course of least resistance, moved into the old river example is jasper conglomerate, a distinctive formation valleys, and divided into major lobes or ice tongues. As that outcrops only in north of Huron. Yet the lobes advanced, they deepened and broadened the pieces of it are scattered throughout eastern and central valleys into basins. Michigan and elsewhere. Rock specimens from copper The ice pushed over all of Michigan — the only state and iron formations of the Upper Peninsula are found in completely covered — and continued southward. Over- southwestern Michigan. Once it was believed that riding the drainage divide, it pressed downslope into the drifting icebergs carried these stones southward, hence watershed of the old system. Its the word "drift," the general term for all materials of advance was finally halted short of the present Ohio glacial origin. River, when new climatic changes made cold give way In non-glaciated regions, soils are derived from the to warmth. weathering and decomposition of bedrock. The ancient Then started a grand retreat that gave rise to the most bedrock formations in Michigan are generally covered complex succession of lakes known to geologists. The with an average of 200 to 300 feet of drift — in places retreat was not continuous, but was marked with many more than 1,200 feet. halts and occasional re-advances. Drift was released Perhaps the most spectacular evidence of glacier from the glacier in a rather "orderly disorder." movement over this region is in the ice-inflicted carvings As long as the glacier margin was within the Mississippi and scorings in pre-glacial bedrock surfaces. They are drainage system, meltwaters were free to escape most prominent on fresh bedrock surfaces, such as southward away from the ice front. When the ice those exposed when the overburden is stripped in stone retreated north across the old divide into the "Great quarries. Frequently this "glacial pavement" is polished Lakes" watershed, the melt-water no longer had an to a luster. Directional striae, or scratches, are always unrestrained flow southward. Surrounding present. Flutings and grooves are common, some also became barriers. Figure 1 in the series of maps attaining depths of several feet. In places in the Upper shows the position of the ice margin at this time. Peninsula, small protruding irregularities in the old hard rock formations have been ice-sculptured and As the ice lobes retreated into their originating basins, streamlined so they now appear to be "elephant backs" tremendous volumes of meltwater were ponded between emerging from the soil. the glacier front and the inner, or northerly, sides of an A Glacier Passed This Way – Page 1 of 3 earlier . Thus were born the first ancestors of formed earlier when the receding water level in that the Great Lakes, Lake and . basin encountered resistant limestone in the to create . As the ice retreated in the The next major halt of the ice was at the site of the Superior Basin, grew in size and continued morainic system called the Lake Border (Fig. 2). to discharge south. Previously the glacier had retreated farther north only to readvance to this position. in the It required about 2,500 years for the glacier to melt back Michigan basin and Lake Maumee in the Erie basin, from Fig. 4 to the position shown in Fig. 5. As the ice therefore, had several different stages prior to those margin retreated northeastward across Ontario, the Port illustrated. Drainage was to the Mississippi. Huron outlet was abandoned and a succession of progressively lower eastern outlets were uncovered, Lake Chicago discharged through the ; Lake resulting in a series of low water stages. The Maumee, through the glacial Fort Wayne- culmination was the extreme low water interval dating most of the time, but for a while, it also flowed north about 6,000 years ago (Fig. 5) when Lakes Chippewa through the Imlay outlet, across the "Thumb" (Fig. 5) to and Stanley discharged via the North Bay outlet and the the old glacial that flowed west to Lake to the salty St. Lawrence Sea — an Chicago. During Lake Border time, Lake Chicago was Atlantic embayment that encroached over the St. all but forced out of its basin. Lawrence lowlands into the Ontario basin. The North Another retreat freed much of the lake basins of glacial Bay outlet was near sea level. Discharge from Lake ice and developed throughout the lowlands Chippewa cut the now submerged deep river gorge in of the Erie, Huron, and Saginaw basins. It washed over the . the but continued to discharge The Wisconsin glacier then permanently retired from the across the glacial Grand River to Lake Chicago which , returning to the area where it first was still draining to the Mississippi. began to grow some 65,000 years ago. As the weight of Then the last major ice readvance and long halt the glacier was departing, the earth began to "spring" occurred. This was the time of the building of the most upward in what is called crustal rebound and the North prominent morainic system of all — the Port Huron — Bay outlet rose gradually and continued to handle the which may be traced, with few breaks, from Minnesota to discharge during the transition to the next and last New York (Fig. 3). The advancing Huron lobe separated glacial lake stage — the — the Lake Arkona into , largest of the glacial largest of all the Great Lakes stages. Rebound also lakes in southern Michigan, and , a forced the St. Lawrence Sea to recede back to the shallow pond-like lake in the Saginaw lowlands where its Atlantic so that fresh waters entering the basin could shore lines are about 125 feet above, and some 45 to 50 form . About 2,000 years elapsed before miles inland from the shore lines of today. Lake rainwaters eventually filled the upper lakes basins. The Whittlesey discharged through the Ubly outlet (northern main Nipissing stage (Fig. 6) was attained when part of "Thumb", Fig. 3) into Lake Saginaw which discharge was restored to both the Chicago and Port discharged to Lake Chicago west across the glacial Huron outlets simultaneously with the North Bay outlet. Grand River. These outlets provided stability that allowed to endure for about 1,000 years. With further retreat of the glacier, water surfaces of Lakes Whittlesey and Saginaw merged to form Lake About 3,000 years ago Lake Nipissing began to wane. Wayne, but now the ice had uncovered a lower outlet The North Bay outlet had been abandoned because of across the Mohawk Valley in the vicinity of Rome, New crustal rebound, thus forcing the full discharge through York. The glacial Grand River outlet, being higher, was the Port Huron and Chicago outlets. The Chicago outlet, abandoned and for the first time, one of the early Great having a bedrock sill, resisted downcutting. The Port Lakes drained eastward to the Atlantic. Huron outlet, being channeled in unconsolidated glacial drift, was subjected to steady downcutting. When the There was one last readvance, about 11,000 years ago, water surface dropped to the level of the sandstone sill that again blocked the Mohawk outlet and raised the in the St. Marys River, was born. When lake level about 20 feet to the next stage — Lake the lake level dropped below the Chicago outlet, Lakes Warren — which restored discharge through the glacial Michigan and Huron were born. Grand River to Lake Chicago, thence to the Mississippi. Further retreat re-opened the Mohawk outlet and, again, Is another glacier due to pass this way?? — Could be! the glacial Grand River was abandoned during the When?? — I don't know — look me up in about 15,000 stages of Lakes Grassmere and Lundy in the Huron-Erie years! basin. In the Superior basin, Lake Duluth was forming and it discharged south to the Mississippi. Robert W. Kelley was born in Detroit in 1918 and received his Masterate in from Wayne State University in 1950. He After the ice had withdrawn completely from the joined the Department in 1955 and is presently research geologist Southern Peninsula, waters of the Michigan and Huron for the Geology Division. basins rose to form vast (Fig. 4) which discharged at Chicago and Port Huron. had

A Glacier Passed This Way – Page 2 of 3

A Glacier Passed This Way – Page 3 of 3