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Glacial geology of the Shingobee River headwaters area, north-central Minnesota

May 23, 2014

During middle and late Wisconsin time in the Shingobee River headwaters area, the Laurentide Wadena lobe, Hewitt and Itasca phases, produced terminal and ground moraine along with a variety of associated glacial features. The stratigraphic record is accessible and provides details of depositional mode as well as principal glacial events during the advance and retreat of middle and late Wisconsin ice tongues. Geomorphic features such as tunnel valleys, stream terraces, and postglacial stream cuts formed by erosional events persist to the present day. Middle Wisconsin Hewitt phase deposits are the oldest and include drumlins, ground moraine, boulder pavements, and outwash. Together, these deposits suggest a wet-based, periodically surging glacier in a subpolar thermal state. Regional permafrost and deposition from retreating ice are inferred between the end of the Hewitt phase and the advance of late Wisconsin Itasca phase ice. Itasca phase glaciation occurred as a contemporaneous pair of adjacent ice tongues whose contrasting moraine styles suggest independent flow modes. The western (Shingobee) portion of the Itasca moraine contains composite ridges, permafrost phenomena, hill-hole pairs, and debris flows. By contrast, eastern (Onigum) moraine deposits generally lack glaciotectonic features and consist almost exclusively of mud and debris flows.

Near the end of the Itasca phase, large-scale hill-hole pairs developed in the Shingobee division, and debris flows from the Onigum division blocked the preexisting Shingobee tunnel valley to form glacial lake Willobee. Postglacial streams formed deep valleys as glacial lake Willobee catastrophically drained. Dates based on temperature trends in Greenland ice cores are proposed for prominent glacial events in the Shingobee area. This report proposes that Hewitt phase glaciation occurred between 27.2 and 23.6 kiloannum and Itasca phase glaciation between 22.8 and 14.7 kiloannum. Des Moines lobe (Younger Dryas) glaciation, which had only secondary effects on the Shingobee headwaters area, occurred between 13.5 and 11.6 kiloannum.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Glacial geology of the Shingobee River headwaters area, north-central Minnesota
DOI 10.3133/sir20135165
Authors Robert C. Melchior
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2013-5165
Index ID sir20135165
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Central Region