Pride of Michigan
September 15, 2004
Noble Odyssey Foundation
Author: Luke Clyburn
Divers discover submerged prehistoric river channel in Lake Michigan.
White Lake, Michigan -- A research team of divers from the Research Vessel Pride of Michigan, under the direction of Captain Luke Clyburn, have discovered an ancient river channel at the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay at a depth ranging from 125 to 150 feet below the current lake level. John Zawiskie, geologist at Cranbrook Institute of Science and Wayne State University and Dr. Elliott Smith, marine scientist with ASCI Corporation conducted the systematic search of the lake floor. PADI dive instructor Kathy Trax coordinated the dive operations.
The project included over two hundred dives by the Great Lakes Division of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps and use of both side scan sonar and an underwater vehicle (ROV) to document the area with photographs, video and sample collection.
According to Zawiskie, “the channel and other local evidence from the site indicates that the entire platform at the bay mouth was dry land between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, with lake levels at this site at least 150 feet below those of today.” This corresponds to a low stage in the evolution of the Great Lakes called Lake Chippewa in the Lake Michigan basin and Lake Stanley in the Lake Huron basin. This discovery along with evidence of drowned rivers, beaches and forests from other sites in Lakes Michigan and Huron are providing a clearer picture of this dramatic prehistoric low stand.
Previous research conducted by Captain Clyburn and the Research Vessel Pride of Michigan has documented and dated a drowned forest off the coast of Lexington Harbor that, according to principal investigator Dr. Doug Hunter of Oakland University “helps date the re-flooding of the southern Huron Basin at that elevation at around 7,500 years ago.”
The research findings will be the subject of a special public exhibit and lecture at Cranbrook Institute of Science on September 25, 2004 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. In addition to the lecture the public may see rock samples, underwater still photography and video, 7,500 year old tree stumps from the lake floor, an array of diving gear and talk directly to the divers and scientists! A lecture by Institute geologist John Zawiskie, summarizing the research will be given at 1:30 and 3:00 PM.
The submarine exploration is collaboration between the Noble Odyssey Foundation, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Oakland University, Inter-Seas Exploration and the Great Lakes Division, Naval Sea Cadet Corps.