The Valparaiso Moraine is a recessional moraine (a land form left by receding glaciers) that forms an immense U around the southern Lake Michigan basin in North America. It is the longest moraine. It is a band of hilly terrain composed of glacial till and sand. The Valparaiso Moraine forms part of the Saint Lawrence River Divide, bounding the Great Lakes Basin. It begins near the border of Wisconsin and Illinois and extends south through Lake, McHenry, Cook, DuPage and Will counties in Illinois, and then turns southeast, going through northwestern Indiana. From this point, the moraine curves northeast through Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties of Indiana into Michigan. It continues into Michigan as far as Montcalm County.
The moraine was formed during the Crown Point Phase of the Wisconsin glaciation. At this time the glacier covering the area had grown thin, so it was restrained by dolomite rock layers in the Lake Michigan basin. Where the glacier stopped, glacial till and sand was deposited, creating the hills of the moraine. After the Valparaiso Moraine was formed, the glacier retreated and formed the Tinley Moraine.
Many towns in northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois are named after the Valparaiso Moraine or the Tinley Moraine. The moraine itself was named after the city of Valparaiso, Indiana where the moraine is at its highest and the city lies on the moraine.
As part of the continental divide, many creeks or rivulets have their origin source in the Valparaiso Moraine. Water on one side of the moraine flows into Lake Michigan, through the Great Lakes, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River, while water run-off on the other side of the moraine flows into tributaries of the Mississippi River, which eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The moraine divide was breached at the Chicago Portage by canal beginning in the 19th century.
The Valparaiso Moraine formed as the first major moraine of the Cary substage of the Wisconsin Glacial period (10,000-50,000 years before present).There are three minor moraines that have been identified in northeastern Illinois, the Minooka, Rockdale, and Manhattan. Within the arc created by the Valparaiso Moraine are two younger Cary substage moraines of the Tinley Moraine and the Lake Border Moraine. Younger still is the Port Huron system, which occurs in the northern portion of the Lake Michigan Basin. The Cary substage dates to around 30,000 years before present.
The Valparaiso system includes five moraines north of Chicago. The most northerly reach is to the headwaters of the Fox River in Waukesha County, west of Milwaukee. The moraine angles to the south and east, reaching the headwaters of the Des Plaines River west of Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the county of the same name. The moraine forms a major portion of the eastern divide of the Fox River Basin and then the western bank of the Des Plaines River. The moraine continues southward along the Des Plaines River following the route of the modern Tri-State Tollway (I-294) around the west side of Chicago. Where the Des Plaines River bends to the west and forms the Illinois River, the moraine angles south and east, continuing along I-294 towards Chicago Heights. In this area, the moraine has widened out towards the south and east, becoming a broad plain covering large portions of Will and Kankakee counties.
Turning eastward, the moraine enters Indiana. The moraine is 17 miles (27 km) wide as it passes through Lake County, Indiana, covering nearly half of the county's midsection. As it passes through Porter County, Indiana, it is under the city of Valparaiso, from which it derives its name. Through Indiana, the moraine forms a "continental divide" between the drainage of the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi River.
The moraine then turns northeast, passing just north of La Porte, Indiana, through the county of the same name. Upon entering Michigan the moraine forms much of the shoreline of Lake Michigan northward through St. Joseph. 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Grand Rapids in Montcalm County.From here northward the moraine angles more eastward, missing Holland and passing through Grand Rapids, finally ending in a mingling of inter-lobe moraines about
The inner border is less than 15 miles (24 km) and at its closest approach is only about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Lake Michigan. The system is from 5 miles (8.0 km) or 6 miles (9.7 km) up to nearly 20 miles (32 km). It is narrowest in LaPorte County, Indiana and widest in Lake County, Indiana. In northern Illinois the moraines merge into a composite moraine, including parts of earlier stages..
The Valparaiso morainic system in Michigan includes the morainic belt along Lake Michigan, from the Grand River Valley south. In places it consists of two or more ridges. These ridges coalesce and separate repeatedly. In northern Van Buren County it becomes associated with the Saginaw moraine.
The moraine runs between 650 feet (200 m) and 690 feet (210 m) above sea level, or 70 feet (21 m) to 110 feet (34 m) above the surface of Lake Michigan. From the inner border there is usually a rise of 100 feet (30 m) or more. In some places of 200 feet (61 m) or more. The crest in Illinois ranges from about 750 feet (230 m) to 900 feet (270 m) above sea level. The highest point is near Lake Zurich, in southern Lake County. The lowest is on the Des Plaines River, in Will County. In Indiana the crest ranges from 750 feet (230 m) in Lake County to nearly 900 feet (270 m) in LaPorte County. The Michigan section is 670 feet (200 m) to 800 feet (240 m) in near the St. Joseph River and north to the Allegan and Van Buren county line. In Allegan County the moraine has its greatest variation. The highest point is 900 feet (270 m), while the low point near the Kalamazoo River is a little above 700 feet (210 m).
The drift across the Valparaiso moraine and outwash plains is the result of repetitive ice advances and intervening recessions. This drift and the drift from the previous ice sheets of the Illinoian and Iowan glacial periods are present across northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. The early Wisconsin drift are similar to that of the Valparaiso drift that identification of each period is not currently possible.
Moraine Nature Preserve is located north of Valparaiso, Indiana, east of State Route 49 and south of US Route 6 on County Road 750 North (Meska Rd). Indiana Department of Natural Resources maintains 809 acres (327 ha). The preserve has numerous trails through rolling ridges and steep hills left by the glaciers. The area includes potholes and a shallow pond. It is covered by a mature beech-maple forest on the high ground and buttonbush and black willow in the ravines, potholes and near the pond.
The Lake Erie basin has two moraines of the same age as the Valparaiso Moraine, the Mississinewa Moraine and the Union Moraine. These moraines formed from the Lake Erie Lobe of the continental glacier. In Michigan the Kalamazoo Moraine is of the same time period. It is the result of the Saginaw lobe of the Laurentian glacier.
Glacial features, north to south from Lake Michigan:
Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and a composition of grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Temperate grassland regions include the Pampas of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the steppe of Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. Lands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses the area referred to as the Interior Lowlands of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which includes all of the Great Plains as well as the wetter, hillier land to the east.
Indiana Dunes National Park is a United States national park located in northwestern Indiana managed by the National Park Service. It was authorized by Congress in 1966 as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and was redesignated as the nation's 61st national park on February 15, 2019. The park runs for about 20 miles (32 km) along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and covers 15,349 acres (6,212 ha). Along the lakefront, the eastern area is roughly the lake shore south to U.S. 12 or U.S. 20 between Michigan City, Indiana, on the east and the ArcelorMittal steel plant on the west. A small extension south of the steel mill continues west along Salt Creek to Indiana 249. The western area is roughly the shoreline south to U.S. 12 between the Burns Ditch west to Broadway in downtown Gary, Indiana. In addition, there are several outlying areas, including Pinhook Bog, in LaPorte County to the east; the Heron Rookery in Porter County, the center of the park; and the Calumet Prairie State Nature Preserve and the Hobart Prairie Grove, both in Lake County, the western end of the park.
The Kankakee River is a tributary of the Illinois River, approximately 133 miles (214 km) long, in the Central Corn Belt Plains of northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois in the United States. At one time, the river drained one of the largest wetlands in North America and furnished a significant portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Significantly altered from its original channel, it flows through a primarily rural farming region of reclaimed cropland, south of Lake Michigan.
Northwest Indiana, nicknamed "The Region" after the Calumet Region, comprises Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana. This region neighbors Lake Michigan and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. According to the 2010 Census, Northwest Indiana has a population of 819,537 and is the state's second largest urban area after the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. It is also the home of the Indiana Dunes, parts of which have been preserved through conservation efforts. The town of Ogden Dunes houses the Hour Glass, a museum showcasing the ecological and conservation efforts of O. D. Frank.
Lake Chicago was a prehistoric proglacial lake that is the ancestor of what is now known as Lake Michigan, one of North America's five Great Lakes. Fed by retreating glaciers, it drained south through the Chicago Outlet River.
Lake Maumee was a proglacial lake and an ancestor of present-day Lake Erie. It formed about 14,000 Years Before Present (YBP) as the Huron-Erie Lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation. As water levels continued to rise the lake evolved into Lake Arkona and then Lake Whittlesey.
The glacial history of Minnesota is most defined since the onset of the last glacial period, which ended some 10,000 years ago. Within the last million years, most of the Midwestern United States and much of Canada were covered at one time or another with an ice sheet. This continental glacier had a profound effect on the surface features of the area over which it moved. Vast quantities of rock and soil were scraped from the glacial centers to its margins by slowly moving ice and redeposited as drift or till. Much of this drift was dumped into old preglacial river valleys, while some of it was heaped into belts of hills at the margin of the glacier. The chief result of glaciation has been the modification of the preglacial topography by the deposition of drift over the countryside. However, continental glaciers possess great power of erosion and may actually modify the preglacial land surface by scouring and abrading rather than by the deposition of the drift.
The Tinley Moraine is a moraine around the Lake Michigan basin in North America. It was formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation and is younger than the higher and wider terminal moraine called the Valparaiso Moraine, which is located farther from the lake than the Tinley Moraine. Compared to the Valparaiso Moraine, the Tinley Moraine is much narrower and occupies a similar swath, about 6 miles (10 km) closer to Lake Michigan, and passes through the communities of Flossmoor, Western Springs, and Arlington Heights. The moraine was named after the village of Tinley Park, a village southwest of Chicago that lies on the moraine.
The Kankakee Outwash Plain is a flat plain interspersed with sand dunes in the Kankakee River valley in northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois of the United States. It is just south of the Valparaiso Moraine and was formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation. As the glacier, stopped at the Valparaiso Moraine, melted, the meltwater was carried away to the outwash plain. On the south side of the moraine, where the elevation drops, the meltwaters eroded away valleys, carrying sand and mud with them. As the muddy meltwater reached the valley where the slope lessened, the water slowed, depositing the sand on the outwash plain. This created a smooth, flat, and sandy plain. Before its draining, the Kankakee Marsh, located on the outwash plain, was one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States.
The Calumet Shoreline is an ancient shoreline of Lake Michigan located in the Lake Michigan Basin. It can be clearly seen as a sand ridge along Ridge Road south of Chicago. Closer to the lake from the Calumet Shoreline, there are the Tolleston shorelines and farther from the lake are the Glenwood Shoreline, the Tinley Moraine, and the Valparaiso Moraine. The shoreline is named after the Calumet Region of Northern Indiana.
The Glenwood Shoreline is an ancient shoreline of the precursor to Lake Michigan, Lake Chicago. It is named after the town of Glenwood, Illinois. The shoreline was formed when the lake was higher during the last ice age, while ice blocked the Straits of Mackinac. After the straits were freed, the lake receded and left behind a sand ridge at an elevation of about 640 feet (200 m) where the shore resided. This ridge can be seen clearly in Glenwood, Illinois, Dyer, Indiana, and Schererville, Indiana, all south of Chicago.
The Kankakee Torrent was a catastrophic flood that occurred about 19,000 calibrated years ago in the Midwestern United States. It resulted from a breach of moraines forming a large glacial lake fed by the melting of the Late Wisconsin Laurentide Ice Sheet. The point of origin of the flood was Lake Chicago. The landscape south of Chicago still shows the effects of the torrent, particularly at Kankakee River State Park and on the Illinois River at Starved Rock State Park.
The Mississinawa Moraine begins in Ohio east of Lima in Hardin County, then running in a shallow arc to the south of Grand Lake St. Marys and St. Marys in Mercer County towards Fort Recovery, Ohio. Just west of Fort Recovery, the moraine again arches southward towards the Mississinewa River. The moraine follows the eastern bank of the river northwestward to where it enters the Wabash River at Wabash, Indiana. Angling towards the north and a little east, the Mississinawa moraine merges with the Packerton Moraine north of the Eel River in Whitley County near Columbia City. The moraine does not end here, but continues in a northeasterly direction through the three corners area of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio until reaching Ann Arbor, Michigan where numerous moraines intermingle. Note: There are two common spellings of the name. Mississinawa is commonly used in the older reports. Mississinewa is the modern usage and the spelling used on modern maps and projects associated with the river. Both spellings are used interchangeably in this article, based on the source material.
The Fort Wayne Moraine is considered contemporary to the last stages of the Valparaiso Moraine. Centered on Fort Wayne, Indiana, the northern leg of the moraine is mostly overlaid by the younger Wabash Moraine angling northeastward through Williams County, Ohio. It only becomes identifiable in Lenawee County, Michigan south and northeast of Adrian before ending in the intermingling of moraines around Ann Arbor. The south and eastern leg of the moraine follows the northern bank of the St. Marys River into the State of Ohio. At the north bend of the St. Marys River, the moraine arcs northeastward through Lima, continuing in a northward arc to reach north of U.S. 30 in Hancock County to pass through Upper Sandusky, again bending to the north to end 15 miles (24 km) to 20 miles (32 km) to the northeast.
The Toleston Shoreline is the third ancient shoreline of the precursor to Lake Michigan, Lake Chicago. It takes its name from the village of Tolleston, now a portion of Gary, Indiana. The shoreline formed when Lake Chicago was high enough to drain through the Chicago outlet into the Des Plaines River. The beach is 18 to 25 feet above the level of Lake Michigan. The Indiana segment and the Illinois segment, north to Evanston are still visible. North of Evanston and Michigan City, Indiana, the beach has been eroded by later ice movement or shoreline wave action.
Lake Kankakee formed 14,000 years before present (YBP) in the valley of the Kankakee River. It developed from the outwash of the Michigan Lobe, Saginaw Lobe, and the Huron-Erie Lobe of the Wisconsin glaciation. These three ice sheets formed a basin across Northwestern Indiana. It was a time when the glaciers were receding, but had stopped for a thousand years in these locations. The lake drained about 13,000 YBP, until reaching the level of the Momence Ledge. The outcropping of limestone created an artificial base level, holding water throughout the upper basin, creating the Grand Kankakee Marsh.
The Marseilles moraine is a terminal moraine that encircles the southern tip of Lake Michigan in North America. It begins near Elgin, Illinois, and extends south and west of Chicago metropolitan area, turning eastward 30 miles (48 km) to 40 miles (64 km) south of the lake in Kankakee and Iroqouis counties, entering Indiana. It formed during the Wisconsin glaciation. The glacier had been in retreat when it stopped for an extended period, depositing glacial till and sand creating the hills of the moraine.
The Lake Border Moraine is a complex group of moraines bordering the southern end of Lake Michigan. It can be traced north along the eastern shore of the lake basin and across the highlands between the northern Lake Michigan and Saginaw Bay. It continues around the Saginaw Basin into the "thumb" of Michigan, and south through southeastern Michigan on the eastern side of the "thumb." Along Lake Michigan, north to Holland the system is close to the shore. From Holland north to Oceana County it is 15 miles (24 km) to 25 miles (40 km) east of the shore. In Oceana County it forms the prominent "clay banks" along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It again bears inland from Hart, where more recent moraines reside between it and Lake Michigan. It runs north of the great interlobate moraine that exists between the Lake Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentian ice sheet. A little north of Cadillac turns to the east. A short distance from Cadillac, it splits with the southern ridge or outer member heading to the Saginaw basin. The northern ridge heads towards Lake Huron, but turns south before reaching the shore. In Newaygo and Lake counties it rest on an earlier interlobate moraine. It separates in Wexford and Missaukee counties to continue south along the west side of the Saginaw basin.
The Packerton Moraine in north-central Indiana has been considered by most persons who have studied it to be a large interlobate moraine between the Saginaw and the Erie lobes. The northeast-southwest direction of the eskers north of Disko, Wabash County, and the southeast-northwest trend south of there indicated that the part of the Packerton moraine south of Disko was built by the Erie lobe and the part north of Disko by the Saginaw lobe. An esker, Miami County shows a northeast-southwest alignment, providing evidence that Packerton moraine in Miami County was built by the Erie lobe. A small area in the northwestern was deposited by the Saginaw lobe. It is named the Packerton moraine from the village of Packerton in Kosciusko County. Thirteen kames and eskers complexes are mixed with sand and gravel. The till is, sandier, especially in the part deposited by the Saginaw lobe, than in the lobe passed over some source of sand, whereas the Erie lobe did not. Water-laid or wind-blown sands are found throughout the moraine. The bulk of the sand seems to have been water-deposited, but locally the sand appears to have been reworked by the wind. Few of the sand deposits exhibit dunal forms.
The Calumet Aquifer is an aquifer underlying the land at the extreme southern tip of Lake Michigan. It underlies the northern third of Lake County, Indiana and the northern tenth of Porter County, as well as small parts of LaPorte County and Cook County, Illinois. It is notable chiefly for its high levels of contamination by industrial waste from factories and toxic waste dumps in the Calumet Region. It is bordered to the south by Valparaiso Moraine Aquifer, and to the north by Lake Michigan. It is underlain by a Silurian bedrock aquifer complex.