Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Lisa LT Tranel
State and National parks are some of the most visited wildlife areas within the United States, making local geologic features more susceptible to human-induced change. As more people visit these parks throughout the year, we see major impacts on the interactions between biological and geological processes. This study determines if human activity, through rock carvings, influence erosion within Starved Rock State Park and provides a new perspective on our compounding anthropogenic influence on Earth. Through natural stream and artificial human erosion, the base of the bedrock slope potentially changes at a much faster rate than the upper portion of the outcrop. By monitoring the fragile sandstone cliffs that preserve these humancreated carvings, specific erosion data were collected in four different canyons within the park. Canyon wall data were collected and monitored using an Empire contour gauge, a Schmidt rebound hammer, and an iPhone 13 LiDAR camera with the 3D Scanner app program to determine seasonal variations in erosion throughout the park as well as the influence of surficial case hardening on the outcrops. The contour gauge and Schmidt hammer data collected suggest the bedrock of the area is affected on a small, millimeter scale within the course of a year. Data collected from the carvings compared to bedrock that is naturally eroding without human influence exhibits short-term localized changes to the bedrock that is greater than the long-term erosion of these surfaces. Analysis of Schmidt hammer values and thin sections indicate that some locations have stronger rock surfaces driven by differences in cement concentrations from the surface to the interior of the rock outcrops. Differences in rock strength produce variation in erosion across the canyons and provide context to seasonal processes that influence weathering. Future research identifying the magnitude of this impact over a longer period, as well as potential difference between lithologies, can prove to be valuable in increasing education and awareness at other state or national parks.
Thielbar, Savannah Leigh, "Human Impacts on Erosion in Starved Rock State Park, Illinois, Usa" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 1778.