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Glacial Lake Ontonagon

and the Development of


Large Scale Landslides

Stan Vitton, PhD, PE


Michigan Technological University

Calvin College
Geology Department
Gran Rapids, MI
October 8, 2013

Large Scale Landslide

Glacial Lake Ontonagon


Location
Glacial Lake Ontonagon
Spring 2004 Landslide Event
Landslide Initiation Mechanism
Summary

Glacial Lake Ontonagon

US-45

Ottawa National Forest Boundary


Rockland, MI
M-26

US-45

Landslide
Location

Ontonagon Landslide US-45 and the East


Branch of the Ontonagon River
Landslide Location

Ontonagon Drainage System

Bedrock Geology of Upper Michigan

Landforms of the Upper Peninsula,


Draft 2006

Major Landforms

Landforms of Upper Michigan

Ontonagon Area - Landforms

USGS Warren
Petersons 1986 Map

Interesting Features and Facts


of the Ontonagon Area
Drainage patterns
Sediment Transport US Corps of

Engineers Study
Lake Superior Currents

Paleoarchaeology

USGS Professional Paper 504-B


Postglacial Drainage and Stream Geometry of the Ontonagon Area
Hack (1965)

USGS Professional Paper 504-B

USGS Professional Paper 504-B

US Corps of Engineers (2010)

Google Earth

Ontonagon Boulder

Prehistoric climate change due to cosmic crash in Canada


September 3, 2013

An artist's rendition of mastodons, camels and a


ground sloth before the environmental changes of
the Younger Dryas led to their extinction.
- Barry Roal Carlsen, University of Wisconsin

The impact occurred about 12,900 years ago,


at the beginning of the Younger Dryas period,
and marks an abrupt global change to a
colder, dryer climate with far-reaching effects
on both animals and humans. In North
America, the big animals all vanished,
including mastodons, camels, giant ground
sloths and saber-toothed cats.
Their human hunters, known to
archaeologists as the Clovis people, set aside
their heavy-duty spears and turned to a
hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of roots,
berries and smaller game.

"The Younger Dryas cooling impacted human history in


a profound manner," says Dartmouth Professor Mukul
Sharma, a co-author of the study. "Environmental
stresses may also have caused Natufians in the Near
East to settle down for the first time and pursue
agriculture."
It is not disputed that these powerful environmental
changes occurred, but there has long been controversy
over their cause. The classic view of the Younger Dryas
cooling interlude has been that an ice dam in the North
American ice sheet ruptured, releasing a massive quantity
of freshwater into the Atlantic Ocean. The sudden influx is
thought to have shut down the ocean currents that move
tropical water northward, resulting in the cold, dry climate
of the Younger Dryas.

But Sharma and his co-authors have discovered


conclusive evidence linking an extraterrestrial impact
with this environmental transformation. The report
focuses on spherules, or droplets of solidified molten
rock expelled by the impact of a comet or meteor. The
spherules in question were recovered from Younger
Dryas boundary layers at sites in Pennsylvania and
New Jersey, the layers having been deposited at the
beginning of the period. The geochemistry and
mineralogy profiles of the spherules are identical to
rock found in southern Quebec, where Sharma and
his colleagues argue the impact took place.

Glacial Lake Ontonagon


Location
Glacial Lake Ontonagon
Spring 2004 Landslide Event
Landslide Initiation Mechanism
Summary

Glacial History of
the Great Lakes

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Farrand & Drexler, 1985, Late Wisconsin &


Holocene History of the Lake Superior Basin

Glacial Lake Ontonagon


Location
Glacial Lake Ontonagon
Spring 2004 Landslide Event
Landslide Initiation Mechanism
Summary

Large Scale Landslide

Upper Unit Lacustrine

Lower Unit
Alluvial Sand

Upper Unit Lacustrine

Upper Unit Lacustrine

Upper Unit Lacustrine

Lower Unit Alluvial Sand

Lower Unit Alluvial Sand

Lower Unit Alluvial Sand


100

Percent Passing, (%)

90
80
70
60
50

40

Upper Sand Layer 790 foot

30

Upper Sand Layer 760 foot

20

Middle Sand Layer 730 foot

10

Lower Sand Layer 710 foot

0
10.000

1.000

0.100

Grain Size, (mm)

0.010

Glacial Lake Ontonagon


Location
Glacial Lake Ontonagon
Spring 2004 Landslide Event
Landslide Initiation Mechanism
Summary

Upper Unit Lacustrine

Lower Unit Alluvial Sand

Lower Unit Alluvial Sand


100

Percent Passing, (%)

90
80
70
60
50

40

Upper Sand Layer 790 foot

30

Upper Sand Layer 760 foot

20

Middle Sand Layer 730 foot

10

Lower Sand Layer 710 foot

0
10.000

1.000

0.100

Grain Size, (mm)

0.010

Possible Landslide Mechanisms


High Spring Time Water Table
Progressive Failure in Overconsolidated Clay
Liquefaction Initiation

High Water Table Initiation

Clay/Silt Softening at Base of the Slope

Soil Liquefaction in the Transition Zone

Liquefaction Causation
Turbulent Spring Time Runoff
Curvature of Oxbow Geometry Centrifugal
fluid flow
Generation of Seismic Wave and the
Development of Pore Water Pressure
Increases Fluvial Seismology

Turbulent Water Flow Oxbow Geometry

Seismic Pore Pressure Development

Glacial Lake Ontonagon


Location
Glacial Lake Ontonagon
Spring 2004 Landslide Event
Landslide Initiation Mechanism
Summary

Thanks!
Questions?