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Woods Lake- A Neighborhood Kettle Lake

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Hidden : 11/13/2011
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Connection to the Earth Science Curriculum

Essential Lesson:

At Woods Lake visitors will gain an understanding that humans have lasting effects on their environment. 

Earth Science Literacy Principles-

Big Idea 3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.

Big Idea 5: Earth is a water planet.

Common misconceptions 

Nutrients float around in the water column and cause water to be cloudy.

High levels of nutrients are toxic to fish and invertebrates

 Michigan State Science Content Expectations Addressed: 

Grade Six- E.SE.06.12 Explain how waves, wind, water, and glacier movement, shape and reshape the land surface of the Earth by eroding rock in some areas and depositing sediments in other area.

Grade Seven-E.ES.07.41 Explain how human activities (surface mining, deforestation, overpopulation, construction and urban development, farming, dams, land?lls, and restoring natural areas) change the surface of the Earth and affect the survival of organisms.

Grade Seven-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


The park is owned by the city of Kalamazoo and much of the surrounding lake property is owned by an association.  Please respect all posted signs.


Date Visited: July 18, 2011

Woods Lake EarthCache

Woods Lake is a 26 acre kettle lake with public access through the Kalamazoo Park system that provides an excellent example of cultural eutrophication in an inland lake. EarthCache visitors will be able to observe this inland water feature created by glaciers of the past.

Coordinates: N 42o15.652’, W 85 o37.150’

 Materials needed for your visit:
The information provided, GPS, Journal


1.      Before you leave make sure that you know how to use your GPS 

Enter and label waypoint coordinates

Navigate to a waypoint

        2.      Navigate to the stop

        3.      At the stop read the informational materials and answer the questions provided.

Description of the area:

60% of the shoreline of Woods Lake is owned by an association whose mission is to preserve the ecology of the lake and its beauty along with that of the surrounding area. Woods Lake, due to the surrounding area, has seen high levels of fertilizers, road salt and other products left by man.

Glaciers and kettle lakes:

About two million years ago great ice sheets started to move southward, from Canada, over the northern half of North America as far south as the Missouri and Ohio rivers. This vast sheet of ice gradually, persistently, moved over the Great Lakes region, until it was brought to an idle in the Michigan area. The glacial lobe that moved over this area was called the Saginaw Lobe. As it moved it dug up the earth beneath it dragging everything from soils to boulders. As it retreated it left behind outwashes and other newly formed geological features. Woods Lake is a kettle lake. Kettle lakes are formed from ice blocks from glaciers. These blocks became partially or fully buried in the glacial drift (the rocks and debris left by the glacier). As the ice melted it left a depression forming the lake. These lakes in the Great Lakes region are important as the provide living space for vegetation and wildlife.

Figure 1- Formation of a kettle lake

Healthy Lakes

Healthy lakes are stratified. In a healthy lake an observer would be able to view changes in temperature as you went deeper in the lake. Lakes need to be able to “turn over” from top to bottom a couple of times a year. Oxygen will be mixed into all the water and the fish can live throughout the lake.

Eutrophic lakes

Eutrophic lakes are formed when the water is no longer able to circulate from top to bottom and the lake becomes nutrient rich. This allows widespread aerobic decomposition takes place in the lake. These lakes have high nutrient levels, low water clarity, low dissolved oxygen in the bottom water.  An observer would also find excessive amounts of aquatic plant growth. Woods Lake’s high levels of nutrients are caused from human activities.  Most contamination is from nitrogen or phosphorus compounds, such as by laundry detergent containing phosphates, fertilizer run-off from yards, roads and sewage- basically any extra chemicals that are added into the small Woods Lake drainage basin by humans. The problem is compounded by evidence that there is no outlet to this lake. So that nutrients that come in, cannot escape.

N 42o15.652’, W 85o37.150’

Iphone July 2011 286

Figure 2 Woods Lake observed from Park

Logging ? 1: Walk down to the shore of the lake.  In your journal write down  observations of the lake.  Pay special notice to the wildlife, vegetation, the physical properties of the lake, any water flowing in or out of the lake.  These observations should be at least a few sentences. 

Iphone July 2011 287

Figure 3Retention Pond

Find the retention pond seen in figure three.  This retention pond was built by the city in an attempt to protect Woods Lake from urban storm water runoff

Logging ? 2: In your journal write down observations of the retention pond. You should pay special attention to recording your observations on wildlife and vegetation.

Logging ? 3:
In your journal compare and contrast the retention pond to the lake and email me your journal notes.  Besure to include a connect to kettle lakes in your explanations.


Armstrong, R. (20112). All about glaciers. Retrieved from

City of Kalamazoo, (2008). Welcome to the city of Kalamazoo. Retrieved from

Kettle lakes. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Rose, W. (2011, July 21). Day 6 Woods Lake near Kalamazoo. Retrieved from


[Untitled diagram of kettle lake formation]. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from:


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