Proxy Evidence for Easterly Winds in Glacial Lake Algonquin, from the Black River Delta in Northern Lower Michigan


Melissa J. Vader, Bailey K. Zeman, Randall J. Schaetzl, Kristina L. Anderson, Ryan W. Walquist, Katharina M. Freiberger, Jacob A. Emmendorfer, and H. Wang


We examined a large, Late Pleistocene delta in northern Lower Michigan, formed by the Black River in Glacial Lake Algonquin. Today, this sandy, arcuate, waveinfluenced delta stands several meters above the lake floor. The Black River transported mainly well-sorted, medium, and fine sands to the delta—at remarkably rapid rates. Our subsurface data, taken at 153 sites across the delta, show subtle and consistent trends in sediment texture across the delta surface. Although found in low amounts, gravel and very coarse sands are concentrated near the shoreline, presumably eroded by waves from the till and bedrock that crop out there. Sediments of very fine sand size (and finer) exist in higher concentrations near the eastern shore, sourced from eroded tills and also carried there on longshore currents. A clear sediment plume of medium and finer sands also traverses the delta SE to NW, which we interpret as evidence of sand transport by longshore currents flowing east to west, driven by easterly winds. High, perched spits on the head of the delta also suggest westerly longshore drift. These paleoclimate proxy data support previous interpretations of strong easterly winds here during the Late Pleistocene, probably in association with a glacial anticyclone.