Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes
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Lake Michigan Coastal Dune Home
Introduction to Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes
Features and Types of Dunes
Wind, Sand and Coastal Dunes
Climate, Dune, Lake and Seasonal Factors
Methods, Results and Research Students
References and Links to More Information


Introduction - What are Lake Michigan coastal dunes?

Coastal dunes are landforms of sand, shaped by the wind in coastal areas. For a coastal dune to form, three things are needed: 1) available sand, 2) winds of sufficient strength to move the sand, and 3) vegetation (or another obstacle) that causes the sand to pile up.

The east shore of Lake Michigan is a great location for dune formation because there are large amounts of sand available along the coast, there are strong westerly winds to move the sand inland from the beaches, and the moist climate supports the vegetation that starts dune growth.

Beach and vegetation covered foredune in Hoffmaster State Park.
Wind, sand and vegetation create the foredune.
(Hoffmaster State Park in August 2005.)


Different types of dunes form when wind interacts with local environments to produce specific shapes and sizes. Lake Michigan hosts a variety of dune types, ranging from low-lying foredunes to large parabolic dunes and elevated perched dunes. Some types of desert dunes are not present because the environmental conditions are not right. The section on Dunes describes the dunes commonly found along Lake Michigan. 

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Last updated 03/23/10.