Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sucker River is on the Move

I had an email request to report about the movement of the mouth of the Sucker River.

First of all, let me give some background.  Originally there were two bays in Grand Marais, MI.  Originally, the west bay was land-locked.  When Europeans founded Grand Marais, the first location was on East Bay.  Then in the 1800s they dug the channel to access West Bay.  In the photo below you can see both West Bay and East Bay.

As time went on, and probably as a result of digging the channel and building the break walls, erosion resulted east of the break wall.  To protect the bay, the government built the original break wall across the mouth of the bay.  This break wall was maintained until the 1930s or so.  The waves and ice of Lake Superior slowly eroded the break wall.  As a result, sand has been filling in the bay over the last several decades.
Below are pictures showing the bay a few years ago.
To protect the bay, government agencies worked together to build a new break wall across the mouth of the bay. To save money, they re-directed the configuration at a 55 degree angle, as shown below. Although the graphic says "proposed," the break wall has now been completed as shown in the other pictures that follow.

A mile and a half east of Grand Marais, the Sucker River's mouth empties into Lake Superior.  During the last few years, the river has been migrating west.  We are happy about this since in our opinion the bay would be "healthier" if a river flowed into it to "clean out the bay."  In the late 1800s there were three rivers flowing into the bay.  The photo below shows the river moving west, as of March 2011.

 In the photo below you can see the river's migration west.

In the picture below, which was taken last fall, you can see the Sucker River pointing right at the new break wall. The migration advanced west (picture above and below) at least a quarter mile in year or so.  Notice the quick build up of sand also starting on shore east of and around the new break wall.

This spring the huge snow pack melted in just a few days.  When I left for my trip on April 19th, there were still ten foot snow banks in my yard with at least 20 inches of snow on the level.  When I returned at the beginning of May -- ALL the snow had melted, other than a few small patches.  Apparently, the snow melt was so fast that the push of water down the Sucker River "blew" a path threw the sand on the beach and re-directed straight out to Lake Superior.  This new path and river mouth is shown below in red.  We don't think that the river's migration has been caused by the new break wall.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the info! I look forward to checking out the new look of the bay this summer. Appreciate your blog.