Research in Michigan
| My research focuses primarily on the interior of Michigan and along the shore of Lake
Michigan. As indicated in the right-hand figure, dunes are
quite common throughout the state. The purpose of this research is
to relate the mobilization of eolian sand to paleoenvironmental changes
such as lake-level fluctuations, fire, deforestation, and deglaciation.
Support for these studies has come from a variety of agencies, including
the National Science Foundation, the Michigan Departments of Environmental
Quality (Coastal Management Division) and Natural Resources (Parks and
|Although sand dunes are common in the interior
of Michigan, the most spectacular and best known dunes occur along the
shore of the Great Lakes. Of these, the best developed dunes are
found along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The image below left
shows the relationship of the dunes to the lake. These dunes have
historically been the source of much interest, but very little is really
known about their evolution. The MDNR and MDEQ have funded several
studies which have focused on reconstructing the history of the dunes in
an effort to see if correlations exist with lake level. Additional
support has come from NSF. The middle image below is a magnificent
crossection at Ludington State Park, which shows a variety of buried soils.
A basal date of approximately 3000 yrs B.P. was acquired from this site.
The image to the below right is from the massive parabolic dunes near Holland.
Here, the dunes are over 40 m high and are less than 5000 years old.
Research in Great Plains
|Once upon a time,
I spent a fair amount of time working in the Great Plains region.
This work was centered on the history of eolian sand mobilization in south-central
Kansas, and was an extension of my graduate research that was conducted
at the University of Kansas.
The Great Bend Sand Prairie
|The Great Bend Sand Prairie is
located in the south-central part of Kansas. This region is bordered
to the north by the Arkansas river, which apparently has been the source
for eolian sand in the region. There are a variety of landscapes
in the region, ranging from level plains to well developed parabolic and
subparabolic dune sets. To see a representative landform map of the
region, access this site.
|The late Quaternary stratigraphy
of the Great Bend Sand Prairie is essentially dominated by two pedostratigraphic
units. The lower one consists of a poorly sorted unit of silty sand
overlain by eolian sand. The silty sand is alluvium that dates to
the late Wisconsin. The eolian sand is late Holocene in age, and usually
contains one or two weakly developed buried soils. In the image to
the right, the alluvium crops out in the center of the field (the dark
area), and is covered by wind-blown sand in the surrounding (lighter) areas.
In the image directly below, the basic stratigraphy of the region is shown
in section. The basal (gleyed) unit is the late Wisconsin alluvium
that dated (at this site) to about 16,000 yrs B.P. The upper
part of the alluvium provided an age of approximately 5400 yrs B.P.
Capping the alluvium is eolian sand, which contains one paleosol that dated
to about 700 yrs B.P. Finally, the image to the lower right is from
the Crocket Cutbank, where about 8 m of eolian sand caps an organic alluvial
deposit, one that dated to about 3000 yrs B.P. The dune contains
one paleosol that provided an age of ~ 800 yrs B.P.