Transport direction of wisconsinan loess in Southeastern Minnesota

Joseph A. Mason, Ed Nater, Howard C. Hobbs

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A study of Wisconsinan loess in part of southeastern Minnesota confirms earlier suggestions that much of the loess in this region was not derived flora the floodplain of the Mississippi River. Two Wisconsinan loess units, the Peoria Loess and Roxana Silt, occur in the study area. Peoria Loess, 1-8 m thick, fines systematically eastward from an abrupt western border toward the Mississippi. There are no apparent grain-size trends away from other adjacent rivers. Peoria Loess thickness generally decreases eastward, but is highly variable, probably because of differential erosion. Potential sources for this unit are pre-Wisconsinan sediments on the Iowan Erosion Surface immediately west of the border of thick loess and Wisconsinan glacial sources tens or hundreds of kilometers to the west. The underlying Roxana Silt, up to 1 m thick, occurs only near the Mississippi and fines away from that river. The Roxana Silt deposit could reflect aggradation of the Mississippi floodplain because of glacial activity upstream and does not have clear implications for upland vegetation near the study area. By contrast, transport of the Peoria Loess from distant glacial sources or wind erosion of upland surfaces closer to the loess deposit both imply extensive, very sparsely vegetated surfaces west of the study area when the Peoria Loess accumulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994


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