Concurrent Stabilization of some Interior

Dune Fields in Michigan


Alan F. Arbogast, Peter Scull, Randall J. Schaetzl,

Joseph Harrison, Thomas P. Jameson, and Scott Crozier


            Inland dunes occur over a large part of east-central lower Michigan, where they mantle glaciolacustrine and outwash surfaces that were exposed around 12,000 yrs. B.P.  The dunes are parabolic, with northwest-oriented limbs, and occur in swampy landscapes, suggesting that paleo-climatic conditions at the time of their formation were much drier and possibly windier.  In order to determine whether the dunes stabilized concurrently or randomly in time and space, surface soils were studied on 30 dunes in the area and quantitatively analyzed for relative differences.  Soils data from the dunes indicate concurrent stabilization, following a period of regional mobilization of aeolian sand.  Surface soils have formed by podzolization, in uniform parent materials, and are morphologically similar throughout the area.  All the soils are weakly developed, with subtle variations on a A-E-Bs-BC-C horizonation sequence.  Munsell colors of Bs horizons are remarkably uniform, with 27 of 30 sites exhibiting values of 4 and chromas of 6.  Chemical data suggest that Fe and Al translocation has been uniform throughout the region.  When compared with soils of known age in northwest lower Michigan, the data indicate that dunes in the region had stabilized at least by 4000 yrs. B.P., leaving an approximately 8000-yr. interval in which they could have formed.  In contrast to the prevailing south-westerly winds of today, dune-forming winds were dominantly from the northwest.