Shorelines of Glacial Lake Hitchcock

Bob Newton, Smith College


This activity uses GIS methods to subtract the isostatic rebound from a DEM in order to create a map of the shoreline of Glacial Lake Hitchcock. Students are then able to evaluate how delta surfaces reflect the past levels of the lake.


Type and level of course
Intermediate level geomorphology course.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
Basic geomorphology

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
Assumes some knowledge of coordinate systems and some experience using the spatial analyst extension is helpful but not required.

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcMap 9.x or greater with the Spatial Analyst Extension

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
Approximately 3 hours


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Students learn how to use the Spatial Analyst extension to manipulate a DEM to remove the tilt caused by isostatic rebound.

Other content/concepts goals for this activity
Students learn how the topset-foreset contact of deltas relates to water levels and isostatic rebound. They also get a chance to see the some of the inconsistencies in the interpretations of water level data from Lake Hitchcock

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Hopefully students gain some understanding of how this type of data is interpreted and what it means in terms of when isostatic rebound occurred relative to delta formation.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is part of a larger project where students examine features in the Connecticut River Valley and produce a surficial geologic map of the area. At this point in the course students have seen some of the deltas in the field and have had some introduction to Glacial Lake Hitchcock. In this exercise they use data on the reported elevation of the topset/foreset contacts from Lake Hitchcock deltas to subtract the effect of isostatic rebound from a DEM of part of the lake basin. They then create a map of the lake shoreline and examine how the shoreline relates to the geomorphology.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students turn in a map with a brief written report.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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