Connection to the Earth Science Curriculum
- Do you think humans have impacted this area? If so, what are some scientific tests that could be done to prove this?
- Explain some ideas you may have to remediate the current situation of the Owl Creek Sands?
Earth Science Literacy Principles-
Big Idea 9: Humans significiantly alter the Earth
9.5 Human activities alter the natural land surface. Humans use more than one-third of the land’s surface not covered with ice to raise or grow their food. Large areas of land, including delicate ecosystems such as wetlands, are transformed by human land development. These land surface changes impact many Earth processes such as groundwater replenishment and weather patterns.
9.7 Human activities significantly alter the biosphere. Earth is experiencing a worldwide decline in biodiversity—a modern mass extinction—due to loss of habitat area and high rates of environmental change caused by human activities. The rates of extinctions are now comparable to the rates of mass extinctions in the geologic past.
Owl Creek Sands fits well with Big Idea 9, because it illustrates the devastation that humans can leave behind even without intending to do harm. The occurrences here may not have forced living things into extinction, but it certainly is a fantastic model of how this can happen if humans do not take care of the Earth.
If you excrete waste into water, that the “law of dilution”, will lessen the impact on Earth.
The above is a common belief because often humans do not believe what we cannot see. The truth is that everything that we deposit in the Earth including atmosphere, can have harmful repercussions in the future. As technologies advance we are finding out ways to prevent poor choices that would harm the environment.
Michigan State Science Content Expectations Addressed:
K-7 Standard L.EV: Develop an understanding that plants and animals have observable parts and characteristics that help them survive and flourish in their environments. Understand that fossils provide evidence that life forms have changed over time and were influenced by changes in environmental conditions. Understand that life forms either change (evolve) over time or risk extinction due to environmental changes and describe how scientists identify the relatedness of various organisms based on similarities in anatomical features.
L.EV.M.1 Species Adaptation and Survival- Species with certain traits are more likely than others to survive and have offspring in particular environments. When an environment changes, the advantage or disadvantage of the species’ characteristics can change. Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow survival.
L.EV.05.11 Explain how behavioral characteristics (adaptation, instinct, learning, habit) of animals help them to survive in their environment.
L.EV.05.12 Describe the physical characteristics (traits) of organisms that help them survive in their environment.
L.EV.05.13 Describe how fossils provide evidence about how living things and environmental conditions have changed.
L.EV.05.14 Analyze the relationship of environmental change and catastrophic events (for example: volcanic eruption, floods, asteroid impacts, tsunami) to species extinction.
Date Visited: 7-12-11
Just North of Copper Falls off Highway 41, you will find a winding series of two tracks that few travel. Those that succeed will be impressed as you make your approach. When you arrive at the Owl Creek Sands, you will be above the actual sands and you will notice a sea of grey, surrounded by a sea of green vegetation. This absolutely breathtaking landform has only been seen by the humans that make the rough voyage.
Coordinates: Latitude: N47 26.306 W088 11.826
Figure #1, Owl Creek GPS View, 2009 (Picture by Terra Metrics)
Key Earth Science/ Geological Vocabulary Words:
Stamp Sand: The remains of the earth after being crushed and the copper particles have been removed.
Elevation Difference: The numerical difference between two elevations.
Sedimentation: The action or process of forming or depositing sediment.
Delta: an area of low land along the mouth or a river.
This site explains the significance that humans have on our earth. This man made geological feature tells the story of the American Dream of “getting rich,” even at the expense of innocent living creatures in nature. This low lying area was once filled with water where very small organisms to large animals flourished, only to be pushed out by the stamp sand.
The rock that was mined was crushed and the fresh water of the area was then used to separate the sand from the copper particles. The copper particles were heavier than the crushed rock, now called stamp sand, so this made it easy for the miners to sort the copper from the by-product stamp sand. Rivers were an excellent natural resource to sort the copper. The control of water flow would also lend itself to control deposition of the stamp sand. The slower the flow deposition occurs, which lets the sedimentation process begin and the delta then appears. The water slowing down left this large amount of stamp sand deposition that we have here today. The percentage of sand to copper was approximately 97% Stamp Sand to 3% Copper. The current state of the Owl Creek Stamp Sands does not promote vegetation or animal life.
Figure #2 View from the entrance to the Owl Creek Sands. 2011 ( Picture by M.Short)
To fully comprehend how much stamp sand is located at this site, take an elevation reading at the top of the sands. Next, take a reading at the lowest point of the sand deposition. Now, figure the difference of the two elevation points.
(High Elevation – Low Elevation = Difference of Elevation)
Including your difference elevation number, write me a short narrative about how you think man has disrupted the natural environment that was once present?
Figure #3, View from the top of the sands to the lowest elevation. ( Picture by M.Short)
Copper Country Media, LLC, (2008-2011) Copper Country Explorer,
Michigan Department Of Education; Retrieved (2011, Aug 12)
Schaetz, R &Darden, J (2009) Michigan Geography and Geology . Custom Publishing, New York.
TerraMetrics ; Tele Atlas; USDA Farm Service Agency (2009) Retrieved (2011, Aug 12).