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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Seafloor Mapping

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Lake Michigan

Boulder Reef -  Gull Island Reef -  Trout and High Island Shoal
Hog Island Reef -  Dahlia Shoal -  Little Traverse Bay

Geologists and biologists wish to understand the links between lake floor geology (composition and shape) and the distribution of lake trout throughout their life cycle. Lake floor geology is one of the main factors determining where lake trout spawn, feed, and hide. In support of ongoing research to study Lake Michigan trout habitats, the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mapped the morphology of principle lake trout spawning sites. Using the Army Corps of Engineer's SHOALS airborne lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) system we mapped six regions in Northern Lake Michigan in order to identify ideal spawning regions composed of shallow, clean, gravel/cobble substrate, adjacent to deeper water.

Lidar mapping systems, which use laser pulses to measure water depths from an airplane, are now available to map the nearshore lake morphology at meter-scale detail. Maps generated from the bathymetric data are used to define regions with smooth homogeneous substrate, regions with higher relief, and mixed regions with both smooth and rough relief. This morphologic information combined with sediment samples and direct bottom observations enable geologists to map areas with high relief composed of rock outcrop, boulders, and cobbles, as well as smooth regions covered with sand or mud. This information helps biologists, fishery managers, and ecologists visualize the lake floor in significant detail which promotes better fishery management, species protection, and habitat identification.

Lake Michigan website maps' metadata

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Archived in 2018