A late Lake Minong transgression in the Lake Superior basin as documented by sediments from Fenton Lake, Ontario

Andy Breckenridge, Thomas V. Lowell, Timothy G. Fisher, Shiyong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The evolution of the early Great Lakes was driven by changing ice sheet geometry, meltwater influx, variable climate, and isostatic rebound. Unfortunately none of these factors are fully understood. Sediment cores from Fenton Lake and other sites in the Lake Superior basin have been used to document constantly falling water levels in glacial Lake Minong between 9,000 and 10,600 cal (8. 1-9. 5 ka) BP. Over three meters of previously unrecovered sediment from Fenton Lake detail a more complex lake level history than formerly realized, and consists of an early regression, transgression, and final regression. The initial regression is documented by a transition from gray, clayey silt to black sapropelic silt. The transgression is recorded by an abrupt return to gray sand and silt, and dates between 9,000 and 9,500 cal (8. 1-8. 6 ka) BP. The transgression could be the result of increased discharge from Lake Agassiz overflow or the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and hydraulic damming at the Lake Minong outlet. Alternatively ice advance in northern Ontario may have blocked an unrecognized low level northern outlet to glacial Lake Ojibway, which switched Lake Minong overflow back to the Lake Huron basin and raised lake levels. Multiple sites in the Lake Huron and Michigan basins suggest increased meltwater discharges occurred around the time of the transgression in Lake Minong, suggesting a possible linkage. The final regression in Fenton Lake is documented by a return to black sapropelic silt, which coincides with varve cessation in the Superior basin when Lake Agassiz overflow and glacial meltwater was diverted to glacial Lake Ojibway in northern Ontario.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-326
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Lake Agassiz
  • Lake levels
  • Lake Minong
  • Lake Superior
  • Paleohydrology

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • FEN


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