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Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area Geology

How did glaciers form the Chippewa Moraine? Glaciers form when snow piles up, gets pressed into ice and begins to flow. It only takes 100 feet of ice to begin the flowing process, yet in Canada during the last cold phase of the Earth’s climate cycle, the ice built up to over two miles thick. The ice sheet came to a mile south of the Chippewa Moraine Interpretive Center but no farther. By then, the warm phase of the climate cycle had arrived and the glacier was melting as fast as it was flowing.

One after another, bands of ice at the glacial front slowed. From behind the faster-flowing ice, still being pushed from Canada, slid up break lines, pushing sand, gravel and rocks (debris) to the surface of stagnant ice. A 10-mile wide moraine, irregular and dotted with several hundred lakes, formed when the glacial debris pushed atop the stagnant ice and rearranged as the ice melted.

Glacial features of the Chippewa Moraine include ice-walled lake plains, kettles and hummocks. The interpretive center has many displays and activities for more information about the geology of the area.

Last revised: Friday October 17 2014