Evaporite karst of Northern Lower Michigan
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Michigan has three main zones of evaporite karst: collapse breccia in Late Silurian deposits of the Mackinac Straits region; breccia, collapse sinks, and mega-block collapse in Middle Devonian deposits of Northern Lower Michigan, which overlaps the preceding area; and areas of soil swallows in sinks of Mississippian deposits between Turner and Alabaster in Arenac and Iosco counties, and near Grand Rapids in Kent County. The author has focused his study on evaporite karst of the Middle Devonian deposits. The Middle Devonian deposits are the Detroit River Group: a series consisting of limestone, dolomite, shale, salt, gypsum, and anhydrite. The group occurs from subcrop, near the surface, to nearly 1400 feet deep from the northern tip of the Southern Peninsula to the south edge of the “solution front.” Glacial drift is from zero to 350 feet thick. Oil and gas exploration has encountered some significant lost-circulation zones throughout the area. Drilling without fluid returns, casing-seal failures, and lost holes are strong risks in some parts of the region. Lost fluid returns near the top of the group in nearby areas indicate some karst development shortly after deposition. Large and irregular lost-circulation zones, linear and patch trends of large sink holes, and 0.25 mile wide blocks of down-dropped land in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan were caused by surface-and ground-water movement along faults into the Detroit River Group. Glaciation has removed some evidence of the karst area at the surface. Sinkhole development, collapse valleys, and swallows developed since retreat of the glacier reveal an active solution front in the Detroit River Group.
KeywordsGypsum Breccia Anhydrite Evaporite Karst Area
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