Teach the Earth > Climate Change > Ideas for Teaching about Large Lakes and Climate > Dune Geomorphology

This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

This activity was developed during the workshop, Teaching Climate Change: Insight from Large Lakes, held in June 2012.

Dune Geomorphology

by Anthony (Tony) Layzell, University of Kansas Main Campus
J. Elmo Rawling, University of Wisconsin - Platteville
Tim Fisher, University of Toledo

Topic: Littoral geomorphology and reconstructing lake levels in the Lake Michigan Basin

Course Type: Upper level

Learning Goals

Students should be able to do the following:

Lab 1. Recognize landforms and understand littoral processes using LiDAR

Lab 2. Identify different littoral facies & interpret littoral stratigraphy using particle size data and GPR images. Understand chronology as expressed in a stratigraphic profile.

Lab 3. Recognize different facies and interpret depositional environments from lake cores


Sequence of 3 labs:

Lab 1. Littoral transport & geomorphology. Use LiDAR images from Europe Lake to identify beachridges. Compare and contrast embayments where beachridges infill vs block to discuss littoral processes (e.g. transport) and controls (e.g. sediment supply). Use Thompson & Baedke 1997, Argyilan et al., 2010 as further examples to discuss littoral processes and to provide current state of knowledge regarding strandplain development & chronology.

Lab 2. Littoral facies & stratigraphy. Introduce GPR data. Use PSA data to distinguish between aeolian sediments and lake sediments (based on % coarse sand and presence of gravel)

Lab 3. Lacustrine depositional environments. Use sediment facies from Silver Lake (similar geomorphic environment to Europe Lake) to reconstruct Nipissing Transgression from Chippewa low to Nipissing high in Michigan Basin


Lab 1. Label Coastal Landforms from similar setting (Kangaroo Lake)

Lab 2. Provide Kangaroo Lake GPR, PSA and OSL data for students to interpret.

Lab 3. How would you use a coring campaign to reconstruct lake level for the Michigan Basin?

Teaching Materials and Data

Materials provided by J Elmo Rawling:


Argyilan, E. P., Forman, S. L., and Thompson, T. A. 2010. Variability of Lake Michigan water level during the past 1000 years reconstructed through optical dating of a coastal strandplain. The Holocene 20, 723-731.

Dorr, J. A. J., and Eschman, D. F. 1970. "Geology of Michigan." The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

Thompson, T. A., and Baedke, S. J. 1997. Strand-plain evidence for late Holocene lake-level variations in Lake Michigan. Geological Society of America Bulletin 109, 666-682.
Fisher, T. G., Loope, W. L., Pierce, W. C., and Jol, H. M. 2007. Big lake records preserved in a little lake's sediment: an example form Silver Lake, Michigan, USA. Journal of Paleolimnology 37, 365-382.

Chrzastowski, M. J., Pranschke, F. A., and Shabica, C. W. 1991. Discovery and preliminary investigations of the remains of an early Holocene forest on the floor of southern Lake Michigan. Journal of Great Lakes Research 17, 543-552.

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