Kettle Lakes

In a recent post I described the formation of kettle lakes.  Now for a few examples.

When you look at a kettle lake, it is often so large that it is hard to imaging a chunk of ice large enough to have formed it. South of Fond du Lac, in the North Kettle Moraine, is the Greenbush Kettle.  This kettle is small enough that it is a bit easier to visualize its formation.

Greenbush Kettle, North Kettle Moraine.

The kettle void can be completely filled with water during high water years or much lower (as in the above image) during dry years. The water surface is completely surrounded by till and most of the hillside has thick vegetation.  A relatively small ice block initiated the formation of the kettle. Glacial till then surrounded the ice block as the glacier retreated forming the kettle we see today.

Moraine Lake, Lincoln County, WI

Moraine Lake in Lincoln County is larger but formed via the same process as the Greenbush Kettle. Once formed, kettle lakes begin the aging process.  Erosion will cause surrounding till to fall into the lake and the yearly cycle of vegetation will begin to fill the lake with organic matter. In the above image you can see fingers of land encroaching into the lake.

A kettle lake in Harrison Hills, Lincoln County, WI

The lake will gradually fill in.  If the kettle has no natural surface inflow or outflow of water, the periphery becomes land with a gradually decreasing water surface in the interior.

Horn Lake, Lincoln County, WI

This kettle has only a small stream running through it and eventually will be totally reclaimed as land.  As you travel around former glaciated Wisconsin landscapes, we will note many small ovalish meadows, many of these are former kettles.  If you were to become a time traveler and return many years into the future, many of our current kettle lakes will undergo a similar transformation.

Several of these images  appear in the August/September issue of Neighbors Magazine. If you have found your way to my blog via Neighbors, keep checking back as I will be posting additional images from the current issue with a bit more background information than is contained in the publication.

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