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TitleLake levels in the Erie Basin of the Laurentian Great Lakes
AuthorLewis, C F MORCID logo; Cameron, G D MORCID logo; Anderson, T W; Heil, C W, Jr.; Gareau, P L
SourceJournal of Paleolimnology vol. 47, 2012 p. 493-511,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20100488
PublisherSpringer Nature
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
NTS30L; 40J; 40I; 40J
AreaGreat Lakes; Lake Erie
Lat/Long WENS-83.6667 -78.6667 43.0000 41.2500
Subjectshydrogeology; Nature and Environment; lakes; lake water; lake water depths; glacial history; paleodrainage; Erie Basin
Illustrationslocation maps; profiles; tables; plots
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2012 02 29
AbstractWater levels in the Lake Erie basin are inferred from glacial lake times to present. An era of early to middle Holocene lowstands is defined below outlets by a submerged paleo-beach, and truncated reflectors in glaciolacustrine sediment beneath a mudcovered wave-cut terrace. Also, the glacial clay surface above the paleo-shore level has elevated shear strength because of porewater drainage during subaerial exposure. Below the paleo-shore where exposure did not occur, clay strength remained normal. Sedimentation rates were reduced during the lowstands. The distortion of once-level shore zone indicators by differential glacial rebound was removed by computing original elevations of the indicators using an empirical model of rebound based on observations of upwarped former lake shorelines. Erie water-level history was inferred from a plot of the original elevations of lake-level constraints and outlets versus age. The lake history was validated by reference to *83 water-level indicators, not used as constraints. During the deglaciation, lake-crossing moraines were likely eroded by fluvial drainage into low-level Lake Ypsilanti and a subsequent unnamed low lake to produce the Lorain Valley and Pennsylvania Channel. Once inflow from the upper Great Lakes basins was directed to Ottawa Valley about 10,400 (12,270 cal BP), Erie water levels descended in a dry, evaporative climate to a closed lowstand during which ostracode d18O increased *2% above present values. Lake level began to rise 6,000 to 7,000 (6,830 to 7,860 cal) BP in response to increased atmospheric moisture and later, to northern inflow as the Nipissing Transgression returned upper Great Lakes drainage to Lake Erie by about 5,200 (6,000 cal) BP. At that time, the lake overflowed the uplifted Lyell - Johnson Sill north (downstream) of the present Niagara Falls at higher-than-present levels. After recession of the Falls breached this sill about *3,500 (*3,770 cal) BP, Lake Erie fell 3 - 4 m to its present Fort Erie - Buffalo Sill. The extended low-water phase with its isolated sub-basins could have restricted migration of aquatic fauna. The early to middle Holocene closed-basin response highlights the sensitivity of Lake Erie to climatic reductions in its water budget.

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