The Central Plain of Wisconsin cuts a V-shaped swath through the middle of the state, from just above Green Bay, traveling south along the Niagara Escarpment to Sauk County along the Wisconsin River before cutting north again toward Burnett County. The landforms within this region vary locally. Where the glacial outwash scrubbed the land before reaching the adjacent unglaciated Driftless Region, these unique castellated mounds dominate the view.
These buttes, as described by Lawrence Martin in The Physical Geography of Wisconsin, are composed of Cambrian sandstone which lies atop Precambrian shield rocks. Much of the landscape of the adjacent Driftless Region near LaCrosse typifies the rugged pre-glacial landscape that probably existed throughout what is now Wisconsin. Wildcat Mound is composed of a well-cemented form of sandstone, “zebra sandstone.” Look closely at the rock face before you and you can discern the stripes of iron oxide that contrast with the lighter shades of the quartz sandstone. The presence of ferric oxide cements this stone, making it more resistant to the forces of weathering that left the surrounding plain generally devoid of relief. Wildcat Mound is called an “outlier,” a part of the landscape that resisted the ravages of glaciation.
There is another theory about the formation of these mounds. This theory suggests that they were once islands that sat in the middle of Glacial Lake Wisconsin and because they were formed of more resistant rock, remained once the lake waters receded. Since these landforms have stood far longer than even the earliest human inhabitants, only the rocks know for sure how they came to be. Enjoy the hike to this unique and mysterious landform, study it, take some measurements and decide for yourself. No matter what you decide, you will have surely enjoyed an invigorating exercise for both mind and body.
To claim this Earthcache, you will have two tasks.
Any logs by finders who do not send us the answers to the two tasks listed below (within one week) will be deleted.
Task #1- In case you hadn’t already noticed, you are at a pretty high elevation for these parts. Determine the elevation at the listed coordinates and send that measurement by email.
Task #2- Study the rock face in front of you. You will see some carvings in the shape of a “v.” In this area, two distinct patterns of weathering are evident. Describe them and send me, in your email, your thoughts on how these patterns occurred. In addition, take a photo of your team, or your GPSr, somewhere picturesque near the coordinates and add that photo to the gallery.
“Geology of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve of Wisconsin,” NPS Scientific Monograph No. 2
The Physical Geography of Wisconsin, Lawrence Martin, 1965
Steven Dutch, Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences, UW-Green Bay; http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/sitemap.htm
Permission granted by Mark Heil of Clark County Foresty and Parks Department for placement of this Earthcache.