region K Area 93b larger picture

Superior Stony and Rocky Loamy Plains and Hills, Eastern Part

Area is almost entirely in the Superior Upland Province of the Laurentian Upland.
The eastern end of the area is in the Eastern Lake Section of the Central Lowland Province of the Interior Plains.

86% of area in Michigan.
14% of area in Wisconsin.

Total Land Area 6,900 square miles (17,880 square kilometers).

Towns/cities include:
Hurley and Mellen in Wisconsin
Munising, Marquette, Houghton, Baraga, and Ironwood, in Michigan,

Indian Reservations include:
The L'Anse, Keweenaw Bay, and Lac Vieux Desert

This area includes the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin; and parts of the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests and parts of the Escanaba River, Copper Country, Baraga, and Lake Superior State Forests in Michigan

Isle Royale National Park (Michigan), which is offshore in Lake Superior.


This area is underlain dominantly by Precambrian igneous or metamorphic bedrock that contains significant amounts of commercially valuable iron and copper. A smaller percentage of the area is underlain by Cambrian or Precambrian sandstone.

This area has many glacial landscape features and is dissected by numerous streams and rivers. It is characterized by a mixture of high-relief bedrock-controlled moraines, end moraines, and ground moraines and nearly level areas of glaciofluvial deposits.

The surface of the area is covered by glacial till derived from these bedrock types, glaciofluvial deposits of very diverse origin, and organic deposits.

Topography -

Elevation generally ranges from 600 to 1,970 feet (185 to 600 meters).The peaks of some bedrock-controlled moraines in the steeper areas rise more than 300 feet (90 meters) above the adjacent lowlands.

Mt. Arvon, the highest point in Michigan, rises to an elevation of 1,979 feet (603 meters).


The average annual precipitation ranges from 30 to 38 inches (760 to 965 millimeters) in most of this area, but averages less (26-30 inches, 660 to 760 millimeters) just inland near Chequamegon Bay Wisc, and Keweenaw Bay Mich.
The average annual snowfall is more than 200 inches (510 centimeters) in the areas adjacent to Lake Superior.
The average annual temperature is 38 to 43 degrees F (3 to 6 degrees C).
The freeze-free period averages about 140 days and ranges from 100 to 180 days.
It is longest adjacent to Lake Superior and shortest in inland areas that are farthest from the Great Lakes, in Michigan parts of this MLRA.

Major Hydrologic Unit Areas

Name Code Extent*
Southern Lake Superior-Lake Superior (0402) 67%
Northwestern Lake Michigan (0403) 20%
Western Lake Superior (0401 ) 11%
Chippewa (0705) 2%

* this is the percent of area drained by each named hydrologic unit

The Escanaba, Paint, Michigamme, and Fence Rivers in Michigan, empty into Lake Michigan.
The Chocolay, Sturgeon, Ontonagon, Montreal, and Presque Isle Rivers in Michigan drain into Lake Superior.


Estimated withdrawls in this MLRA:
Public supply surface water 73% ground water 8.3%
Livestock surface water 8.6% ground water 10.1%
Irrigation surface water 0% ground water 0%
Other surface water 0% ground water 0%

Total daily withdrawls average 6 million gallons per day (23 million liters).
18% Ground water sources
82% Surface water sources

Lake Superior and the many lakes and streams provide surface water. This water is of very good quality and is suitable for most uses.

Ground water can be obtained from glacial deposits in most of this area, except for a large part of the northern half. The water is in sand and gravel outwash, in silty and sandy glacial lake sediments, and in buried sand and gravel lenses within the glacial till.

The water is of good quality and is suitable for almost all uses with minimal treatment. It typically has about 200 to 250 parts per million (milligrams per liter) total dissolved solids. The water from some wells has very high levels of iron, especially in the southern half of the area.

A Precambrian Sandstone aquifer occurs south and west of Keweenaw Bay, in the part of this area in Michigan. Little water-quality data are available for this aquifer. The Lake Superior Sandstone and Precambrian lava flow aquifers occur in the southwestern part of this area, in Wisconsin. Water from these aquifers is very similar in quality to the water in the glacial deposits.


  • Frigid soil temperature regime.
  • Aquic or udic soil moisture regime.
  • Isotic or mixed mineralogy.
  • Dominant Soils:

  • Histosols
  • Spodosols
  • Area soils are shallow to very deep, excessively drained to very poorly drained, and sandy to clayey.

    Great Group Series Location
    Haplorthods Amasa, Sundog, Pence, Padus, Rubicon, Sarona, and Channing series formed in loess over outwash on outwash plains, valley trains, and kames, in till or loess over till .
    Fragiorthods Gogebic, Munising, Wabeno, Champion, and Schweitzer series formed in till or loess over till on till plains and moraines.
    Haplosaprists Carbondale, Cathro, Lupton, Markey, and Tawas series formed in organic material in depressions on lake plains, outwash plains, and till plains.

    Fauna and Flora

    This area supports natural stands of mixed northern hardwoods and pine. Sugar maple, oak, white ash, elm, yellow birch, white pine, jack pine, and red pine are the principal tree species.

    Lowland areas support both mixed hardwoods and conifers. Elm, soft maple, black ash, black spruce, tamarack, and northern white-cedar are the major species.

    Some of the major wildlife species in this area are whitetailed deer, black bear, red fox, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, woodcock, mallard, blue-winged teal, and wood duck. Fishing occurs in Lake Superior, in other lakes, and in streams and rivers.

    Land Use

    2% - Cropland - private
    1% - Grassland - private
    68% - Forest - private
    20% - - Federal
    2% - Urban development - private
    3% - Water - private
    2% - - Federal
    2% - Other - private

    Feed grains and hay are the chief crops grown on the limited acreage used as cropland. Much of the grain is fed to dairy cattle and other livestock on the farms where it is grown. The rest of the farmland in the area is about equally divided between pasture and farm woodlots.

    Recreation is an important land use, especially along the major streams and on sites bordering Lake Superior.

    The major soil resource management concerns are water erosion, soil wetness, soil fertility, and soil tilth.

    Conservation practices on cropland generally include crop rotations, conservation tillage systems (especially no-till systems), contour farming, contour stripcropping, and grassed waterways.

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