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Torch Lake Stamp Sands

A cache by jenkinsjh Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 11/1/2011
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Geocache Description:

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Connection to the Earth Science Curriculum

Essential Question:

How have humans positively and negatively affected Torch Lake?

Earth Science Literacy Principles-

8.3  Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.

1.7 Technological advances, breakthroughs in interpretation, and new observations continuously refine our understanding of Earth.

3.7 Changes in part of one system can cause new changes, to that system or to other systems, often in surprising and complex ways.

Common misconceptions 

  • The atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere do not cause changes in one another; these systems operate independently on Earth.
  • Earth and its systems are too big to be affected by human actions.
  • Human activities cannot affect geological processes like river flow, flood cycles, etc

Michigan State Science Content Expectations Addressed:

S.IP.07.11 Generate scientific questions based on observations, investigations, and research.

S.RS.07.17 Describe the effect humans and other organisms have on the balance of the natural world.

E.ES.07.41 Explain how human activities (surface mining, deforestation, overpopulation, construction and urban development, farming, dams, landfills, and restoring

natural areas) change the surface of the Earth and affect the survival of organisms.

E.ES.07.42 Describe the origins of pollution in the atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere, (car exhaust, industrial emissions, acid rain, and natural sources), and how pollution impacts habitats, climatic change, threatens or endangers species.


Area of Concern:  A term used by the Department of Environmental Quality to describe an area in the Great Lakes Basin that has had major environmental issues.

Alluvial fan- An area of dry sediment that is deposited through gravity or human means that forms a fan shape.

Stamp sand:  In mining for copper there was waste left over after the basalt rock had been crushed by a stamper to find the copper hidden in the basalt. The stamp sand was then added to a stream of water and the copper will fall out of the mixture because it is denser than the remaining crushed rock.  The crushed rock was then deposited in half circle forms on the sides of lakes.  The stamp sand still has copper in it but it is in such small amounts that it was not worth processing further, but it is still toxic.

Superfund site:  A hazardous waste site that has been cleaned up using government money

Date Visited: July 14, 2011

Torch Lake Stamp Sands EarthCache
 Lake Linden , MI.

This EarthCache site displays several pieces of historical information from the copper mining era in the Keweenaw.   After finding this site visitors will understand a little more about what part Torch Lake played in the mining era and how it became an Area of Concern. 

Site :Lake Linden Park

Materials needed for your visit:   GPS,  the questions provided in this document, a pen/pencil. 

Coordinates:    N 47 °11.125’ W 88 °24.340’ 

Content Explanation:

At the Lake Linden Park there is parking, restrooms, picnic tables and a boat launch.  The sign in the picture will give a significant amount of information needed for this EarthCache.
Figure 1

Figure 1-This is the sign you will be looking for to help you answer the questions. Picture taken by Julie Jenkins 7/14/11

Figure 2

Figure 2 The park has picnic and boating facilities. Picture taken by Julie Jenkins7/14/11

Figure 3

Figure 3 Hubbell/Tamarack City Stamp Sand Parcel of Torch Lake AOC during remediation.  8/8/11

Figure 4

Figure 4 Hubbell/Tamarack City Stamp Sand Parcel of Torch Lake AOC after remediation. 8/8/11

Torch Lake was one of the first Superfund sites that the Environmental Protection Agency funded in 1972.  It was funded due to the tumors that showed up inside and outside of older sauger fish and walleye from the contaminated sediments found in the lake (MDNR, 1986a; MDNR, 1987).  The sediment of great concern came from the stamp sands that had been deposited in the lake from different mining companies during the mining era of the mid 1800’s through 1968.   An estimated 200 million tons of  stamp sand was deposited into Torch Lake forming alluvial fans, half circle formations the lakeshore and is responsible for the toxins, such as mercury and PCB’s, found in the lake.    The stamp sand was deposited in the lake because the sand was carried in river water and the water was then just added to the lake with the stamp sand.  After the stamp sand was deposited by the mining companies, it was dredged out of the lake to be processed again for any remaining copper and then deposited in the lake again.  After the government labeled this site a Superfund site, clean sediments were brought in to cover the stamp sand in the attempt to stop the leaching of toxins into the lake.  Questions have been raised about the covering of the stamp sands, depleting the sand from oxygen making the toxins even more soluble in water and doing more harm than good.

Logging Question:

        1.       How many stamp sand deposits are shown in the map at Lake Linden Park?

        2.       How many mining companies might have dumped their stamp sand here?

Access Information: 

Permission for this EarthCache was given by  Village Clerk’s Office at 906-296-9911 or visiting at 401 Calumet Street, Lake Linden, MI 49945.      


Baker, Shannon ( 2007).  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Biennial Remedial
Action Plan Update For the Torch Lake Area of Concern. 
Retrieved from  7/28/11

Simmons, Nefertiti (2010).  Region 5 Superfund Environmental Protection Agency . Retrieved from 8/8/11

Rose, Dr. William,  Michigan Tech University, Lecture,   Linden Park, Lake Linden, MI.   July 14, 2011

Schaetzl, S. (2009). Michigan Geography and Geology. J. Darden, (Assoc. Ed).
D. Brandt, (Assoc. Ed.) New York, NY. Custom Publishing


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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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