Research overview: Holocene development of Lake Erie

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This paper reviews and summarizes research on the Holocene evolutionary history of Lake Erie. New bathymetric data published in 1998 and more recently by the National Geophysical Data Center reveal lake-floor features indicative of former, now inundated, shorelines. These data combined with other recent research, permit a detailed reconstruction of Lake Erie's complex history since the Wisconsinan ice sheet retreated some 12,000 years ago, ending a series of glacial lakes and initiating a series of post-glacial lake stages. The lakes that have occupied the Lake Erie Basin are grouped into three phases. The oldest phase, 14,400 to 12,000 years ago, had lake stages associated with glaciers in the basin and were higher than present Lake Erie. The middle phase, 12,000 to 4,700 years ago, had lake stages isolated from Upper Lakes drainage during a dryer climatic period and were below the present level of Lake Erie. In the last phase, from 4,700 to present, the Lake Erie Basin received Upper Lakes drainage and the water level rose to a slightly higher stage before establishing the present elevation through outlet erosion.


Author Institution: School of Earth Sciences, F.T. Stone Laboratory, The Ohio State University



The Ohio Journal of Science, v112, n2 (2013), 24-36.