Michigan Basin Geological Society

Please join us for the first Michigan Basin Geological Society’s membership meeting for the 2020-2021 year.

MBGS Membership Meeting, Wednesday February 10, 2021, 7:00 PM

LOCATION: his will be a virtual Zoom meeting. Please RSVP to Jennifer Trout at: 


Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/2692904048?pwd=Szg2dmNuSHVSQ3U2cGFZeWhKM1RtZz09

Meeting ID: 269 290 4048 Passcode: Y0Jciw

Dial by your location

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 269 290 4048 Phone Passcode: 879143

SPEAKER: John Esch, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy, Oil, Gas & Mineral Division

TOPIC: “Ice-Walled Lake Plain Distribution in Michigan”


Before the availability of LiDAR in Michigan, Ice-Walled Lake Plains (IWLP) were rarely recognized. IWLPs in Michigan are generally subtle and typically not distinguishable on 7.5 minute topographic maps, aerial photos or county soils surveys. They are often unrecognizable even when standing in the middle of one. Recent surficial geological mapping and the availability of LiDAR has made their identification possible. These supraglacial ice stagnation features appear as relatively flat to slightly bowl shaped plateaus slightly elevated above the surrounding morainal uplands. They have steeper outward facing ice-contact slopes down to the surrounding land surface. Most occur on hummocky uplands, end moraines, with some on till plains. They are not found in outwash plains, glacial drainage-ways or lowlands.

They most commonly occur in clusters but occasionally are seen as a single isolated IWLP. Some are clearly distinct features and others appear as a compound IWLP made up of a number of coalesced IWLPs or as smaller satellite IWLPs within larger one. They come in a wide variety of sizes, averaging 43 acres (17.3 hectares) and shapes but are commonly rounded. They are thought to have formed as short-lived lakes in depressions on a stagnating ice surface, where generally fine grained materials are deposited from the surrounding higher stagnating ice. Overtime as the glacier melts and as more sediment is deposited in the lake, eventually the lake sediments are deposited on the land surface resulting the elevated low relief plateaus above the surrounding land surface.


The IWLPs were digitized from LiDAR DEMs, hillshades, shaded relief, and slope maps and using machine learning. Hand augered borings, coring and road cuts reveal textures widely ranging from clay to fine sand to coarse sand.  The Saginaw Lobe has significantly more IWLPs than the Lake Michigan and Huron Erie Lobes. Certain moraines or portions of moraines have IWLPs while others have none. They can be cored to find organic material and OSL samples collected for age dating. Since IWLPs often occur on morainal ridges, the dates can be used as a minimum age for an ice advance. Because they occur in a distinct depositional environment, mapping their distribution assists in interpreting the glacial history of an area and in differentiating subtle moraines and ice margins from others. 


John grew up in the Grand Ledge Michigan area and received his BS in geology from Central Michigan University in 1984. He started out his career in 1984 as a geologist with Aangstrom Precision Corporation. He led a geophysical survey crew for one year and later worked as a “computer geologist” mapping the structure and isopach maps of every Paleozoic formation in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. John constructed the first ever comprehensive glacial drift isopach and bedrock topography maps of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan as well as assisting in mapping the major faults in the basin. In 1990, John left the oil patch and took a job with the DNR (later DEQ/EGLE) conducting hydrogeologic investigations at contamination sites across the state. From 1998-2006 he has been a project geologist (geodog) on 12 Superfund sites here in Michigan. Since 2006 he has been with the Office of Geological Survey/Oil, Gas & Minerals Division. John also conducts geological mapping for the Michigan Geological Survey. John’s interests include studying the bedrock surface and structural geology of the Michigan Basin, use of unconventional geophysical techniques, groundwater surface water interactions, and the use of GIS and 3D visualization techniques to help understand subsurface geology. He formerly chaired the EGLE GIS Committee. He is a volunteer with Lifewater International in which he trains people overseas in groundwater exploration, shallow well drilling and hand pump repair.

Passing of Dr. Paul A. Catacosinos

Dr. Paul A. Catacosinos passed away on April 10 of this year at age 86. Paul was a significant contributor to our understanding of Michigan geology through his work during the 1970’s through 1990’s. Paul was a dynamic educator and researcher that impacted a generation of students and many of us who are interested in Michigan Geology.


Paul did his Ph.D work under Dr. James H. Fisher at Michigan State and completed the dissertation in 1972 on the Cambrian Stratigraphy of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Paul taught at Delta College for 26 years, inspiring students about geology.


He also contributed his energy and enthusiasm to help the Michigan Basin Geological Society, serving as Newsletter Editor (1972-74), Vice President (1977-78) and President (1978-79).


Paul was honored by the Eastern Section of AAPG with the Distinguished Service Award (1989) and Honorary Membership (1991). He also served ESAAPG as an officer, Treasurer (1985). Secretary (1986) and President(1987)


His professional/technical contributions which we often still use today include:

“Cambrian Lithostratigraphy of the Michigan Basin”, 1973, AAPG Bulletin

“Origin and Stratigraphic Assessment of Pre-Mt. Simon Clastics (PreCambrian) of Michigan Basin”, 1981, AAPG Bulletin

Co-editor (with Paul Daniels) of the book “Early Sedimentary Evolution of the Michigan Basin”, 1991, GSA Special Paper 256 containing 11 peer reviewed papers on Michigan basin geology

“Stratigraphy of Middle Proterozoic to Middle Ordovician Formations of the Michigan Basin”, 1991 a paper in GSA Special Paper 256

Co-editor (with Ben van der Pluijm) of the book “Basement and Basins of Eastern North America”, 1996, GSA Special Paper 308 containing 14 peer reviewed papers


Lead author with 4 co-authors of  “Stratigraphic Lexicon for Michigan” and Stratigraphic Nomenclature Chart for Michigan”, 2001, published by the Michigan Geological Survey and the Michigan Basin Geological Society


There is a brief obituary on the legacy. com site at



Paul’s lasting contributions to the understanding of Geology in the Michigan Basin are notable.     

Geology in the News

New Survey Publication – An Updated Bibliography of Michigan Geology

John Yellich and Peter Voice, Western Michigan University Department of Geological Sciences and Michigan Geological Survey

The Michigan Geological Survey is proud to announce a new publication: Michigan Geology: A Bibliography, the second volume in the Michigan Geological Survey Data Compilation Series. This updated compilation lists over 7,700 references from all known Michigan sources, including industry, professional associations and universities and includes publications from 1818 to present. This report documents 200 years of Geological Research in Michigan. The Bibliography is sorted into four general categories – Precambrian, Basin, Quaternary, and Other.
This updated version of the bibliography also includes a short section on Michigan Stratigraphic Nomenclature, as well as brief discussion of historical trends in publication frequency in Michigan.

The report is free to download at the Michigan Geological Survey’s webpage: https://wmich.edu/geologysurvey/research/publications.


Douglass Houghton, Michigan’s first State Geologist, was honored on September 10, 2016 by
the placement of a State of Michigan Historical Marker commemorating his accomplishments. The
effort was led by Arlene Anderson‐Vincent, members of the Michigan Basin Geological Society,
Keweenaw County Historical Society and faculty at Western Michigan University and Michigan
Technological University. The dedication was incorporated into a MBGS field excursion led by
Professor Ted Bornhorst of Michigan Technological University and Lawrence Molloy, President of the Keweenaw County Historical Society. The two led a field excursion that covered the geology and history of sites from Houghton to Copper Harbor and wove a tale of the rise and fall of mining in the copper range. The field excursion included the dedication of the marker, which is located in Eagle River, Michigan at the Keweenaw County Historical Museum. The dedication had many speakers and a special appearance from Kyle Bagnall, who portrayed Bela Hubbard who told the story of Douglass Houghton’s 1840 expedition along Lake Superior. Douglass Houghton died in 1845 when the boat carrying himself and his crew capsized during a storm on Lake Superior near Eagle River.

The Michigan Basin Geological Society (MBGS) was founded in 1936 as an affiliated non-profit organization of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas relating to the field of petroleum geology through field excursions and meetings.

Throughout the years, the role of the society has changed, and both meetings and field excursions now address a wide range of topics pertaining to the study of geology of Michigan and the great lakes area, and is open to anyone interested in geology.

MBGS has monthly meetings typically on the second Wednesday of each month from September through May. These meeting consist of a lecture on a wide variety of Michigan geology related topics. The meetings are open to all. The Executive Committee Officers meet prior to the meeting to discuss Society issues and is open to anyone interested in attending. The society has 1-3 geological field trips per year.

MBGS members are geologists, work in a geology related field, or are a geology student or hobbyist. The Society is dedicated to the advancement of the science of geology and related fields, disseminating knowledge of geology or related fields for the benefit of its members, and promoting the education of geology in Michigan. Annual dues are $25 per person and $10 per student.

Upcoming Events

February 10, 2021: Michigan Basin Geological Society Membership Meeting: MBGS Monthly Membership meeting (virtual)

March 10, 2021: Michigan Basin Geological Society Membership Meeting: MBGS Monthly Membership meeting (virtual)

April  14, 2021: Michigan Basin Geological Society Membership Meeting: MBGS Monthly Membership meeting (virtual)

April 18-20, 2021, GSA North-Central Section Annual Meeting, Springfield, Missouri

May  12, 2021: Michigan Basin Geological Society Membership Meeting: MBGS Monthly Membership meeting (virtual)

June 14-16, 2021: Annual Environmental Risk Management Workshop: “The Data Tell the Story” at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center, Roscommon, Michigan.

August 6-9, 2022: AIPG Annual Meeting, Marquette, Mi.

EGLE Calendar of Training and Workshops

Michigan State University, College of Natural Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Science,
Events https://ees.natsci.msu.edu/events/

Michigan Tech – Geoseminars ‐ http://pages.mtu.edu/~raman/SilverI/Geoseminar/Welcome.html

University of Michigan Earth and Environmental Science
Events https://lsa.umich.edu/earth

Western Michigan University, Geological and Environmental Sciences
Events https://wmich.edu/geology/events

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Contact Us

Mailing Address​​​​​​: MBGS P.O. Box 14044 Lansing, Mi 48901-4044

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