early Holocene, late Pleistocene, Wisconsin Episode, Younger Dryas, Bølling-Allerød, eolian, optically stimulated luminescence, radiocarbon, Glacial Lake Chicago, Michigan


Environmental Sciences


Inland dune fields have recently emerged as a source of data for reconstructing paleoenvironments and climate in the western Great Lakes region of North America during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. We employ optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) methods, radiocarbon ages, soils, and landform relationships to determine the age of inland dunes in Ottawa County, Michigan. These dunes rest on the abandoned bed of Glacial Lake Chicago, which is thought to have been exposed after ~13.6 ka. OSL analyses from two inland dunes yield ages ranging from 13.3±1.1 to 11.6±0.9 ka (uncertainty = 2 σ). Fine sand in the parabolic dunes suggests deflation of exposed glaciolacustrine nearshore sand by northwesterly and westerly winds. These new data add to a growing number of studies that demonstrate widespread eolian activity in the western Great Lakes region during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. OSL ages from dune fields in the western Great Lakes indicate peak eolian activity and dune stabilization occurred during or following the Younger Dryas and Preboreal events. Northwesterly and westerly winds suggest the limited effect of hypothesized easterly anticyclonic winds during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Rapidly changing climate and newly deglaciated surfaces provided an ideal environment for dune formation.

Original Citation

Colgan, P. M., Amidon, W. H., & Thurkettle, S. A. (2017). Inland dunes on the abandoned bed of Glacial Lake Chicago indicate eolian activity during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, southwestern Michigan, USA. Quaternary Research, 87(1), 66–81.