A stratigraphic analysis of buried soils within the Grand Sable Dunes, a dune field perched 90 m above the southern shore of Lake Superior, reveals a history of eolian activity apparently linked with lake-level fluctuations over the last 5500 yr. A relative rise in the water plane of the Nipissing Great Lakes initially destabilized the lakeward bluff face of the Grand Sable plateau between 5400 and 4600 14C yr B.P. This led to the burial of the Sable Creek soil by eolian sediments derived from the bluff face. Subsequent episodes of eolian activity appear to be tied to similar destabilizing events; high lake levels may have initiated at least four and perhaps eleven episodes of dune building as expressed by soil burials within the dunes. Intervening low lake levels probably correlate with soil profile development, which varies from the well-developed Sable Creek Spodosol catena to thin organic layers containing in-place stumps and tree trunks. Paleoecological reconstructions available for the area do not imply enough climatic change to account for the episodic dune activity. Burial of soils by fine-fraction sediments links dune-building episodes with destabilization of the lower lake-facing bluff, which is rich in fines.
Additional publication details
Buried soils in a perched dunefield as indicators of late holecene lake-level change in the Lake Superior basin