OE Lake Huron Sinkhole Exploration

Photo of scuba diverThe Lake Huron Sinkhole project is an Ocean Exploration funded effort aimed at understanding the physical, chemical, and biological processes in and around the shallow and deep sinkholes present in the area. A team of scientists from many disciplines and institutions are conducting this study. Characterized by high sulfate and low dissolved oxygen, these habitats are dominated by single-celled microorganisms like bacteria and lack the typical fish and metazoan communities found in Lake Huron. In addition to time series measurements of physical parameters, the team has sampled groundwater chemistry, groundwater flow, and has obtained samples of microbial mats growing in low oxygen conditions for pharmacological analysis. Remotely operated vehicles allowed mapping of chemical and biological characteristics over large areas of the study site, located within the boundaries of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northwestern Lake Huron.

See 2008 Fieldwork Ocean Exploration Website*

Link to GLERL project background.

Study Sites Images:

Cruise Information

Steve Ruberg, NOAA/GLERL
Principal Investigator

Data Pages:




Database Inventory (.xls)


Project Scientists:


Biddanda, B., S.C. Nold, S.A. Ruberg, S.T. Kendall, T.G. Sanders, and J.J. Gray. 2009. Submerged sinkhole ecosystems in the Laurentian Great Lakes: a new biogeochemical research frontier. EOS Transactions 90(8):61-68 (2009).

Ruberg, S., S. Kendall, B. Biddanda, T. Black, W. Lusardi, R. Green, T. Casserley, E. Smith, S. Nold, G. Lang, S. Constant. (Winter 2008/09). Observations of the middle island sinkhole in Lake Huron: a unique hydrogeologic and glacial creation of 400 million years. .Marine Technology Society Journal 42(4):12-21 (2009).

Biddanda, B. A., D. F. Coleman, T. H. Johengen, S. A. Ruberg, G. A. Meadows, H. W. VanSumeren, R. R. Rediske, and S. T. Kendall. Exploration of a submerged sinkhole ecosystem in Lake Michigan. Ecosystems 9:828-842 (2006). http://www.springerlink.com/content/r106152q530xn0m1 , http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/2006/20060020.pdf

Ruberg, S.A., D.F. Coleman, T.H. Johengen, G.A. Meadows, H.W. VanSumeren, G.A. Lang, and B.A. Biddanda. Groundwater plume mapping in a submerged sinkhole in Lake Huron. Marine Technology Society Journal 39(2):65-69 (2005). http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/2005/20050038.pdf

*Link leads off GLERL's website