The Stanley unconformity in Lake Huron basin: Evidence for a climate-driven closed lowstand about 7900 14C BP, with similar implications for the Chippewa lowstand in Lake Michigan basin

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J.L. Hough in 1962 recognized an erosional unconformity in the upper section of early postglacial lake sediments in northwestern Lake Huron. Low-level Lake Stanley was defined at 70 m below present water surface on the basis of this observation, and was inferred to follow the Main Algonquin highstand and Post-Algonquin lake phases about 10 14C ka, a seminal contribution to the understanding of Great Lakes history. Lake Stanley was thought to have overflowed from the Huron basin through the Georgian Bay basin and the glacio-isostatically depressed North Bay outlet to Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. For this overflow to have occurred, Hough assumed that post-Algonquin glacial rebound was delayed until after the Lake Stanley phase. A re-examination of sediment stratigraphy in northwestern Lake Huron using seismic reflection and new core data corroborates the sedimentological evidence of Hough's Stanley unconformity, but not its inferred chronology or the level of the associated lowstand. Erosion of previously deposited sediment, causing the gap in the sediment sequence down to 70 m present depth, is attributed to wave erosion in the shoreface of the Lake Stanley lowstand. Allowing for non-deposition of muddy sediment in the upper 20 m approximately of water depth as occurs in the present Great Lakes, the inferred water level of the Stanley lowstand is repositioned at 50 m below present in northwestern Lake Huron. The age of this lowstand is about 7.9 ± 0.314C ka, determined from the inferred 14C age of the unconformity by radiocarbon-dated geomagnetic secular variation in six new cores. This relatively young age shows that the lowstand defined by Hough's Stanley unconformity is the late Lake Stanley phase of the northern Huron basin, youngest of three lowstands following the Algonquin lake phases. Reconstruction of uplift histories for lake level and outlets shows that late Lake Stanley was about 25-30 m below the North Bay outlet, and about 10 m below the sill of the Huron basin. The late Stanley lowstand was hydrologically closed, consistent with independent evidence for dry regional climate at this time. A similar analysis of the Chippewa unconformity shows that the Lake Michigan basin also hosted a hydrologically closed lowstand, late Lake Chippewa. This phase of closed lowstands is new to the geological history of the Great Lakes. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Paleolimnology