Public Release: 

The Great Lakes: Understanding and protecting North America's 'third coast'

New special paper from The Geological Society of America

Geological Society of America


IMAGE: This image shows sand dunes at Silver Lake State Park, Mears, Mich., USA. view more

Credit: T.G. Fisher, GSA Special Paper 508

Boulder, CO, USA - The fragile natural environment of North America's "third coast," home to 34 million people, gets some well-deserved attention in this new book from The Geological Society of America. The shorelines of North America's Great Lakes span 17,500 kilometers (10,874 miles), thus making this area fertile ground for studying the effects of coastal change on human populations as well as the effects human activities have on coastal environments.

This coast has been the setting for a number of classic studies in coastal geomorphology and Quaternary geology, especially on the subjects of coastal dunes and the effects of deglaciation and isostatic rebound on lakes and coasts. In the past decade and a half, there has been a revival of interest in these processes along the Great Lakes.

Volume editors Timothy G. Fisher of the University of Toledo and Edward C. Hansen of Hope College have brought together an interdisciplinary mix of papers spanning a variety of temporal scales and offering a substantive overview of this recent research. The majority of the chapters investigate the relationship between dune activity, lake levels, and climate.

In addition to offering insights into coastal processes in general, the data presented in this volume could help inform decisions on how to manage and mitigate the human impacts in this highly populated area. The editors also write that "a better understanding of the Great Lakes' coasts can help the citizens of the region protect and preserve those aspects of the coast they value while helping them adjust to a changing coastal environment."


Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through The Geological Society of America online store,, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting April Leo,

Coastline and Dune Evolution along the Great Lakes

Timothy G. Fisher and Edward C. Hansen (editors)

Geological Society of America Special Paper 508

SPE508, 228 p., $66.00; Member price $46.00

ISBN 978-0-8137-2508-6

Contact: Kea Giles

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.