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Geology and Landscape of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Vicinity

William L. Blewett

Publication Year: 2012

Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was established in 1966 to preserve one of the most exquisite freshwater coastal landscapes in North America. Located between Munising and Grand Marais on Lake Superior, the rugged coastline is anchored by the Pictured Rocks cliffs—soaring sandstone fortresses awash with natural pink, green, and brown pigments. While the Pictured Rocks’ geologic history is generally well understood by scientists, much of this information is scattered among different sources and not easily accessible to general readers. In Geology and Landscape of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Vicinity, William L. Blewett synthesizes published and unpublished information on the park’s geologic history and combines it with vivid color photographs, detailed maps, and diagrams of the area. Blewett examines the history and geology of the very ancient Precambrian, Cambrian, and Ordovician components of the Pictured Rocks dating back hundreds of millions of years, as well as the much younger unconsolidated Pleistocene (ice age) and Holocene (warm period since the ice age, including the modern landscape) sediments mantling the bedrock, most of which are no older than 12,000 years. He also details the history of the Lake Superior basin, tracing the events that shaped the modern shoreline from ancient times. For visitors to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Blewett has provided a detailed mileage-referenced road log to guide readers to the best and most accessible field sites, and, for the more adventurous, includes a day hike keyed to the geology. A comprehensive bibliography and index are also included at the end of the book for further research. While it assumes an understanding of basic geologic principles, the volume is very readable and suitable for students, interested park visitors, and geologists, physical geographers, and those working in closely related fields such as archaeology, biology, ecology, and environmental science.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series Page

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

This book was a long time coming. It began in 1994 with the writing of a Pictured Rocks Resource Report on the park’s glacial geology, followed by a more ambitious report on ancient shorelines written as a “geoscientist-in- the-park” during my...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xv

Immeasurable thanks are due to Gregg Bruff, chief of Heritage Education at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, who provided the initial inspiration for this book and shared access to innumerable National Park Service photographs and related documents. Likewise, Dr. Walt Loope...

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1. Introduction and Regional Setting

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pp. 1-15

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore preserves one of the most exquisite freshwater coastal landscapes in North America. Here, nearly five hundred miles from the nearest ocean, lies a lonely, 40-mile swath of jagged coastline to rival any New England travel...

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2. Precambrian and Paleozoic Bedrock

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pp. 17-43

Systematic scientific study of the Lake Superior sandstones, which make up the Pictured Rocks, begins with the work of Douglass Houghton (1841), Michigan’s first state geologist. Later, J. W. Foster and J. D. Whitney (1851), cruising the Lake Superior shoreline...

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3. Ancient Lakes and Relict Shorelines

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pp. 45-65

The idea that Michigan and much of northeastern North America were buried beneath a vast continental ice sheet a mile thick is difficult for most people to imagine. Yet the evidence for continental glaciation, compiled and corroborated by hundreds of scientists over...

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4. The Ice Age

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pp. 67-87

With the coming of the Great Ice Age, the last chapters in the geologic history of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore begin. Glaciers advancing southward from source regions in eastern Canada destroyed the preexisting landscape as they excavated...

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5. The Holocene Epoch

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pp. 89-115

The Holocene history of Pictured Rocks begins with the final wastage of Marquette ice into the Lake Superior basin approximately 11,000 years ago. As the land emerged from beneath the glaciers, weathering, mass wasting, and erosion began to reshape the landscape, although with limited...

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Appendix: Pictured Rocks Road Log

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pp. 117-159

This road log is designed to take the interested reader to many of the park’s best geologic sites. It begins in Munising and ends 84 miles later in Grand Marais, traversing the park from west to east following paved County Road H-58. A few of the side roads, such as the access road...

References Cited

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pp. 161-171

Index

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pp. 173-181


E-ISBN-13: 9780814336168
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334416

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 124
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1
Series Title: Great Lakes Books

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Geology, Structural -- Michigan -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
  • Glaciology -- Michigan -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
  • Paleogeography -- Pleistocene.
  • Paleogeography -- Holocene.
  • Geology, Stratigraphic -- Pleistocene -- Michigan -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
  • Geology, Stratigraphic -- Holocene -- Michigan -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Mich.).
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