The Mason Esker is the longest esker in the northern hemisphere. It begins in DeWitt, Michigan, and runs south and a bit east. It extends to a point south of the town of Mason, Michigan. The esker runs in both Clinton and Ingham counties. The Mason Esker is listed as being 22 miles long although extensions of this esker run a full 35 miles. At times it will be from 200 feet to a half mile wide. Unfortunately much of the esker is no longer able to be seen. There are a few areas where it is persevered and we are taking you to one such part.
An Esker is a long, winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel which occur from glacier melt. It is formed in ice-walled tunnels by streams which flowed within and under glaciers. After the retaining ice walls melt away, stream deposits remain as long winding ridges. Eskers may also form above glaciers by accumulation of sediment in glacial channels, in crevasses, in linear zones between stagnant blocks, or in narrow embayment at glacier margins. Eskers form near the terminal zone of glaciers, where the ice is not moving as fast and is relatively thin.
Eskers will very in size and shape as you will see at the locations we are taking you. The shape and size is determined by flow and melting of the basal ice. They may exist as a single channel, or may be part of a branching system with tributary eskers. They are not often found as continuous ridges, but have gaps that separate the winding segments. The ridge crests of eskers are not usually level for very long, and are generally knobby. Eskers may be broad-crested or sharp-crested with steep sides. The heights of any esker will vary as well. The Mason Esker is dated from somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago.
What has happened to this major esker? It has been used to build roads, bridges and building through out Michigan. The sand and gravel here have been mined since the settlers first came to this part of Michigan. Because of the extensive mining of the esker it has all but disappeared. There are still some mines left on the esker but they are small today.
Along with your visit here you can also visit Bancroft Park in north-east Lansing. Here you will find some of the esker that is left and protected. The area we are taking you is the tail of the esker and is farmland where the esker is persevered because of farming not industrial use.
To log the find on this Earthcache you will have to go to the following locations and answer the questions for each stop. Please do not post your answers on the cache page, just your photo.
1. At the posted co-ords and also at N42 30.558 W084 21.690 you will take an altimeter reading then tell me the height of the esker at this point.
2. Go to N42 30.967 W084 21.861. This is a beautiful view of this esker. At this point take a photo of yourself with any of the landscape of the area behind you.
3. Go and visit N42 31.438 W084 22.267 at this point you will find 2 things one of which is a sign. Tell me what the name of this place is. Next tell me what is happening to the esker at this point.