The St. Clair River delta, the largest in the Laurentian Great Lakes system, is located in Lake St. Clair at the mouth of the St. Clair River. It straddles the border between the state of Michigan in the USA and the province of Ontario in Canada. The current study aims at characterizing and explaining the formation and evolution of the distributary channels in the St. Clair River delta and the delta itself. The delta is classified as a river dominated feature with classic “bird's foot” structure similar to the Mississippi delta model. The delta is composed of two surfaces. The older surface at the delta apex was deposited at a higher lake level some 3,500 to 5,000 years B.P. The current delta started to form following a drop in lake level some 3,500 years B.P. and continues to build to the present day. The delta consists of seven active deep channels averaging 11 m in depth entering a lake with a mean depth of 3 m with much shallower water in the delta front region. The channels are stable and are actively eroding into the sediments of the lake creating both sub-aqueous and sub-aerial levee deposits with crevasses. The inter-distributary bays are being filled with sandy deposits created by wave energy and by crevasse deposits. At the erosional front of each distributary a narrow erosional notch “leading channel” is being formed which appears to control the direction of lakeward erosion of each deep distributary channel. The emplacement of the delta body in the shallow receiving water body has been termed “burrowing” delta formation and is the mechanism controlling the formation of this sedimentary feature.
Journal of Great Lakes Research
Vol. 32 • No. 4
Vol. 32 • No. 4
Lake St. Clair
St. Clair River