Mapping the Geology of Chicago’s Nearshore Region to Address Urban Beach Response to Climate and Lake-level Change

Major Goals and Objectives

High lake levels have reduced beach sizes across Chicago, but we have little understanding of how much was passive inundation versus sediment remobilization. Ongoing collaborative efforts with the Chicago Park District and the Illinois Coastal Management Program are focused on observations of process-landform dynamics using camera arrays at select beaches and integrating UAS-based imagery, topographic information, wave data, and camera footage. However, while efforts are underway to understand the subaerial dynamics here (e.g., shoreline behaviors), little is known about littoral dynamics and sand transport across the highly fragmented urban nearshore environment, where prior studies have inferred a complex lakefloor geology that includes outcropping Silurian bedrock reefs, heavily scoured and dissected glacial clay tills, and thin, discontinuous sand veneers. We wish to capture the geologic configuration of the nearshore at the surface and map the shallow subsurface architecture as a means of quantifying sand volumes and relating them to the broader geologic template and the urban infrastructure with its influence on nearshore hydrodynamics.

Research Information

Principal Investigator:
C. Robin Mattheus
Initiation Date:
Illinois State Geological Survey


C. Robin Mattheus
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