Introduction to Lake Superior Cliffs
Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota
1.Compareyour site to a region with a similar physical landscape:
Icompare Palisade cliffs with the Superior falls on River Montreal inMichigan. Both have raised surfaces with water at the bottom. Theyare also associated with large water masses.
How does your site differ?
Theprimary difference between Palisade Cliffs on Lake Superior andSuperior Falls on River Montreal is the location. Whilst Superiorfalls are situated on the border between Gogebic County and IronCounty, Palisade Cliffs are found in the State of Minnesota. Thedistance between the two sites is about 300 miles. The Palisadecliffs are located in a protected area- Tettegouche State Park. Entryis restricted to only those who have the tickets. On the other hand,the Superior falls in Michigan are available for all and sundry.However, visitors who might engage in activities that will lead tothe degradation of the environment are uninvited. The finaldifference between these sites lies in their size. Palisade cliffs isa long series of cliffs measuring an average height of 50 meters fromthe lake surface. The superior Cliffs are short, measuring a heightof about 10 Meters and 30 meters wide.
How is your site similar?
Bothsites are tourist attraction centers. People come from everywhere towitness these marvelous landscapes. The sites are a specialattraction to people who are nature lovers, especially those who lovethe serenity that comes with such a setting. Many businesses aroundthese sites can somehow attribute their existence to these naturallandscapes. At the Palisade Cliffs, most businesses revolve aroundoffering tour guide services and transport to the visitors. At theSuperior falls, the businesses are also inclined to tourism. Thereare tour guide companies and places where visitors can hire scootersto take them to the interior of the River Montreal where the Superiorfalls are found. Other businesses near these sites include kayaks forhire, food and drink, hotel services and photography.
Thereexists other minor similarities between the two sites. For starters,both sites are under the custody of the county governments. Thesegovernments are responsible for employing maintenance staff, settingregulations, and publicizing the sites. The local authorities alsodrive all the conservation efforts in these sites. Fines imposed onvisitors who do not abide by the regulating code often remit theirmoney to the local governments involved. The formation of these sitesemanates from geographical. The features therein are not manmade buta result of years of geographical forces. Finally, the two sites arefound in remote locations, far away from the hustles of the city. Thetwo sites are accessible via a dirt road in the interior of thecounties they are found.
2.Howdid your physical landscape form?
Theformation of cliffs is usually a process that takes a duration thatis long enough for an entire species to evolve. The Palisade cliffsare no exceptions. Geologists cannot put an exact timeframe to theexplanation of the formation of this landscape. Herein, there are thegeographical processes that are responsible for the formation ofPalisade Cliffs on the edge of Lake Superior.
i)What are the geological processes that contributed to theformation of your site?
Thepalisade cliffs formed through a long period of geographical forces.According to (Bogue, 2007), Palisade cliffs on Lake Superior wereformedfrom rhyolitic lava that was extruded 1.1 billion years.Geologists estimate that the extrusion of the lava happened duringthe Mesoproterozoic era of the Precambrian eon. During themidcontinent rift system, the lava spread apart, creating the cliffsin the process. The rift created two masses of rock that measuredabout 60 meters in height. It is also important to note that theformation of the cliffs happened years before Lake Superior appeared.The depression created by the midcontinent rift system created areservoir that acted as a collection pint for water runningdownstream. Over the years, the water accumulated to the level of alake and further helped to shape the cliffs.
Anothertheory that explains the existence of the Palisade Cliffs on LakeSuperior is the erosion caused by the lake water and breeze (Van Hise& Leith, 1911). Acts of erosion and weathering such as water,temperature, ice, and pressure, usually take a toll on soil and othersoft rocks. The result of these forces of erosion is exposure ofsedimentary rocks that are resistant to erosion. These resistantrocks are responsible for the cliffs that exist on the edge of LakeSuperior.
ii)What are the climatic processes that contributed to theformation of your site?
LakeSuperior has a big effect on the climatic conditions of the PalisadeCliffs. The Lake regulates the temperature of the surrounding regionsto createcoolers summers and warmer winters. The lake’s history oftotally freezing also contributed to the formation of the cliffs.Although the last time that the lake was completely frozen was in1987, evidence suggests that complete freezing was a commonoccurrence in the past. Freezing of the lake contributed to theprocess of cliff formation through weathering. As the water betweenthe rocks froze and increased in volume, the soft rocks on thePalisade Cliffs disintegrated to pave way for the hard sedimentaryrocks.
Thewinds created by the unique climate of the lake also contributed tothe process of cliff formation. Winds in Lake Superior blow watertowards the shoreline at high speeds. The pressure inflicted on thecliffs as the water hits hard on them, led to more erosion andshaping the cliffs to assume their current conformation.
3.Describe the geomorphology of the areas. You may includedescriptions of the rivers/streams, swamps, deserts, topography, rocktype, and landforms.
ThePalisade Cliffs are situated on the North Shore highlands of LakeSuperior. They are comprised of mountain ranges that begin with aslight ascension and in some areas they are full-fledged cliffs withsteep heights reaching up to 60 meters above the water table. Thecliffs take the form of a mountain range that stretches over adistance of about 5 miles. The height of the cliffs varies from onepoint to another. The lake at the bottom also forms part of thislandscape.
4.What water resources exist on or near the site? Include adiscussion on aquifers, which are natural water bearing rock units,and man-made water units such as reservoirs and water storage towers.
Themost distinct water resource found on the site is Lake Superior. Thelake is one of the biggest in the world in terms of volume. Apartfrom influencing the climate of the landscape, the lake also provideswater for the flora and fauna that exists on the cliffs. The lakedraws its water from the rain and tributaries such as the MichiganRiver and Montreal River. The water is a source of livelihood for thecommunity surrounding the lake. People use it for recreation,irrigation, transport and fishing.
5.How has your landscape`s physical form changed or evolved?.
i)What climatic processes contributed to the change? e.grainfall, hurricanes:
Climaticchanges have led to physical changes on the Palisade Cliffs. Theeffect of moderating the climate by the lake has led to the growth ofdense plant life on the cliffs. The moderate climate enables theplants to grow on rocks with minimal nutrients. The reducing levelsof water in Lake Superior have led to an increase in the height ofthe lakes. Over the past few years, climate change has led toshrinking in the volume of water in Lake Superior.
ii) What geophysical processes contributed to the change? e.g. river bank erosion, wind erosion:
Increasederosion due to the formation of Lake Superior billions of years agoled to geomorphological changes on the Palisade Cliffs.
iii)What human processes contributed to the change? e.g. mining,intensive agriculture, grading for development:
Dueto the isolated nature of Palisade Cliffs, human activity has donelittle to alter its morphology. The land is too barren to attracthuman settlement.
6.What natural resources were indicative of your site or were foundnear your site in the past? Discuss any relationship betweenresources or between those resources found on your site and thoseresources adjacent to your site in the past:
Themost prominent natural resource at the site is water from LakeSuperior. Before the massive erosion, soil was also a major resourceat the site. The relationship between soil erosion and water from thelake is that it shaped the current structure of the cliffs.
7.What natural resources are indicative of your site today?Discuss any relationship between resources or between those resourcesfound on your site and those resources adjacent to your sitecurrently:
Thenatural resources found on the site today include trees on thecliffs, rocks, and lake water. The lake is responsible for the plantlife on the cliffs because it regulates extreme climatic conditionsthat inhibit plant life.
8.What climatic processes contributed to any changes in what naturalresources existed? E.g. glaciation, global warming, change inrainfall:
Globalwarming has contributed to changes on the Palisade Cliffs. The lasttime the lake froze totally was in 1987. Since, high globaltemperatures and severe droughts have led to the decrease in thewater volume within the lake. The visible height of the cliffs hasincreased by an average of 1 meter in the past 10 years.
9.What biological process contributed to any changes in whatnatural resources existed? e.g. over foraging, insect infestation,dominant species, diseases such as Dutch elm disease):.
Thebreeze created by the enormous Lake Superior led to the seeddispersal of plant life on to the barren rock of Palisade Cliffs. Thebiological process is responsible for all the plant life on thecliffs. The mixed forest on the Palisade Cliffs majorly comprises ofspruce, paper birch and oak. Although the trees are sparse, they forma nesting ground for some of the endangered bird species in the USA.The bald eagle and thousands of hawks nest in this mixed forest.
10.What human processes contributed to any changes in whatnatural resources existed? e.g. mining, development, roadconstruction, harvesting:
The harvesting ofthe forest area on the Palisade Cliffs has led to the sparse mixedforests. On a larger scale, human activities have led to the emissionof greenhouse gases that have caused global warming, which isresponsible for the reduction in the water level at Lake Superior.
11. Describethe pre-settlement land cover of your landscape? This is the landcover that existed before the Europeans settled the area:
Palisade Cliffsis highly underdeveloped. The land cover before and after the arrivalof European settlers is relatively the same. The cliffs were coveredin rocks and sparse forests at the top.
12. Describethe past land uses of the site. How did the pre-settlement land coverinfluence the land usage?
Thepre-settlement land cover influenced the land use of the site in thatthe rocks made the area too barren for any significant humandevelopment. The land could not be used for agriculture or humansettlement.
13. Describethe land uses that exist in your landscape today
Today, the landis majorly used for recreation activities. Visitor can visit the areato observe the cliffs or indulge in rock climbing. The area has alsobeen developed to create an access road, short-term parking and anantenna tower. The authorities also harvest timber from the forest.
14. Discussthe relationship between cover types on your landscape and land useactivities on your landscape?
The sparse mixedforest on the cliffs influence the use of the landform for harvestingtimber.
15. Whatphysical characteristics of your landscape and natural resources ofyour site have affected or influenced the area`s development?
The rock on thecliffs have impaired any attempts to develop the area. The ground istoo unstable to support any buildings. The natural fauna and florahave also made the site to be classified under a conservancy hencenot open for human development.
16. Whatphysical characteristics of your landscape and natural resources ofyour site have deterred (limited) its development?
The rocky landcover has deterred the land from any form of development.
Bogue, M. B. (2007). Around the shores of Lake Superior: A guideto historic sites. Univ of Wisconsin Press.
Van Hise, C. R., &Leith, C. K. (1911). The geology of the LakeSuperior region (No. 52). Govt. Print. Off.