Using the Fluvial-Lacustrine Interface in a Glaciodeltaic Deposit to Redefine the Valparaiso Moraine, Berrien County, Michigan, USA

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University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division
The Valparaiso morainic system in eastern Berrien County, southwestern Michigan, is a 10-18 km-wide continuous belt of collapsed glacial landforms. Previously, the composition of the moraine belt was inferred to be of unsorted materials, including coarse- to fine-textured tills, and some stratified deposits. The moraine boundary was defined primarily on classical geomorphic evidence of relative high elevation, "kettled" or "swell & sag" topography, presence of boulders at the surface, steep ice-contact face, etc. Recent mapping, which included well records, geophysics, and test drilling, revealed the moraine to be composed of glacial meltwater deposits, commonly 30 m thick. The deposits include >50 separate glaciodeltaic morphosequences, mostly ice-marginal deltas, graded to proglacial Lakes Madron (new name) and Dowagiac. Both Lake Madron and younger Lake Dowagiac were dammed to the south by the older Kalamazoo moraine and to the west by the retreating edge of the Michigan ice lobe. Each delta grades from ice-contact landforms underlain by coarse-grained facies at its head to non-collapsed landforms underlain distally by fine-grained facies. Proximal deltaic deposits are coarse grained, locally containing boulders and lenses of poorly sorted flowtill with zones of collapsed bedding along ice-contact slopes. A composite section of a delta, derived from a gravel pit exposure extended by a drillhole showed, from top to bottom: 6 m glaciofluvial sand and gravel; 4.5 m deltaic foreset sand, silt, and gravel, dipping 10o SSE; 9 m pebbly sand; 10.5 m ft coarse to medium sand; 8 m medium to very fine sand and silt at the base; overlying 1.7 m of gray silty diamicton. Deltaic glaciofluvial plains of Lake Madron grade from 256 m altitude to distal distributary plains at 241 m, controlled by the lake level and spillway at 239 m. Lake Dowagiac deltas have fluvial plains as high as 250 m graded to distal plain altitudes of 225 m. The Lake Dowagiac spillway crossed older deposits south of Niles, MI. Both lakes discharged through the St. Joseph River valley south across the regional drainage divide. Wide heads of deltas trending ENE within the Valparaiso moraine belt document ice-margin retreat positions, similar to older ice margins within the outer Kalamazoo Moraine. Correlating the elevations of the heads of deltas and the fluvial/lacustrine interface allowed us to group glaciodeltaic morphosequences by outlet/proglacial lake level and therefore, infer the location of nine ice margins at various stages during construction of the Valparaiso Moraine. The resulting map shows shingled deposits from a highly undulating ice margin, rather than the single, linear margin shown on older maps.
Michigan, Lake Michigan, Berrien County, Valparaiso morainic system, Michigan ice lobe, Lake Dowagiac, Lake Madron, glacial landform, glacial deposit, glacial lake deposit, glaciodeltaic deposit, fluvial-lacustrine, outwash, end moraine, morphosequence analysis
Kincare, K. A., Stone, B. D., and Newell, W. L., 2001, Using the fluvial-lacustrine interface in a glaciodeltaic deposit to redefine the Valparaiso Moraine in Berrien County, Michigan, USA, in Mason, J. A., Diffendal, R. F., and Joeckel, R. M., eds., Fluvial Sedimentology: 7th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division Open-File Report, p. 156.
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