The purpose of this Master’s thesis is to investigate recently identified cliff-top sand dunes located within the Lower Chippewa River Valley (LCRV), Wisconsin, USA. Research within the LCRV notes the existence of a variety of aeolian deposits, but a comprehensive explanation of their complete spatial distribution, genesis, age, and paleoenvironmental significance does not exist. In particular, stabilized cliff-top dunes with a parabolic form remain poorly understood. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of clarity in the literature regarding the genesis of dunes in a cliff-top position. Therefore, this thesis begins by reviewing the literature concerning sand dunes in cliff-top position in order to clearly define and describe the cliff-top parabolic dune form within the various physical geographies it has been observed. A diagnostic classification scheme and formation models for cliff-top dune types are presented and based upon the landscape assemblage and geomorphic systems in which they are found. The classification scheme and formation models are then applied to cliff-top dunes along the LCRV to understand their origin, geomorphic, and paleoenvironmental significance in this actively evolving landscape. These cliff-top dunes exist in positions immediately adjacent to and above the highest fluvial terrace scarps in the LCRV. Other parabolic dunes are removed from cliff-top position and cover glacial outwash plains flanking the Chippewa River. However, the cliff-top dunes exhibit different morphologies, orientations, and ages compared to other aeolian deposits recently identified. Therefore, the results of this investigation indicate cliff-top dunes in the LCRV have a genesis involving complex fluvial-aeolian processes that occurred throughout the Holocene.
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Millett, Jason, "Cliff-Top Dunes in the Lower Chippewa River Valley of West-Central Wisconsin" (2019). All Theses, Dissertations, and Other Capstone Projects. 912.
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Available for download on Monday, April 12, 2021