Mining has always been an essential part of the economy and culture in Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. By analyzing county level census data and bedrock geology maps, can a formal region be created? This is the question to be focused on. What is it about the northern portions of these states that make mining a crucial part of not only the economy but the culture of these areas? The Precambrian Research Center, based out of Duluth, MN, is dedicated to the understanding and proper economic extraction of the geology in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. They believe an organization like theirs is necessary because, “the PRC is a result of an identified and urgent, long-term need within the private and public sectors of the geological community, both locally and internationally, for geoscientists skilled in geological mapping and the study of Precambrian geology. Ancient shield areas that form the cores of the present-day continents are important scientifically in terms of early Earth history and crustal evolution, and they are extremely important to global society because they host a very large percentage of the world's ore deposits.” With a proper understanding of the geology in WI, MN, and MI, we can begin to address the physical, human and cultural geographic features of this very unique region.
After establishing the geologic packages, and ages of these units, we can then focus on how they came to be of use by people in these areas. Taking Census data, and looking at the county level employment data, a comparison can begin to be made. By organizing the data on the county level, the total number of persons employed per county can be normalized by the amount of persons employed by the mining industry. This information can then overlain on maps representing the bedrock geology containing specific ages of rocks. Using the age of the rocks, associations can be made between the rock units. Doing this for more than one year, 1994 and 2004 will hopefully reflects the mining dependent counties. This information then is analyzed and represented by using ArcGIS and create maps representing the geology, and economic mining data. These maps are then analyzed to project the influence of mining on the geographic Northwoods.
The first step taken in this analysis was to understand the project. Not just understanding the project, but have a greater understanding for the way the science, economics, and culture all work together and then can be represented together. This was done during the field-trip portion of this class. It is essential to the understanding of this project, to get out into the field and not only see, but experience what affect the people had on the geology and the affect the geology had on the people.
After this phase, raw data needed to be collected. To get the most accurate outcomes, county level data was required. County level Census data was the most accurate data attainable. The total number of persons employed per county, total number of mining establishments, and the total number of persons employed by mining establishments was collected for every county for the states of MN, WI, and MI. This data was collected for the years 1994 and 2004. This was done so that there is a spread of data. This data, once compiled, was then put into ArcGIS. Once in ArcGIS the data was represented by county and percentage of mining employees per total number of employees per county. The data was then overlain on the bedrock geology containing specific age of the rocks. The Bedrock geology was also needed. This data then had to be fit into specific characteristics, such as geologic age.
In addition to the Bedrock geology, and Census data, National Atlas data was used to project the location of mines. This was done for a variety of different mines, from sand and gravel mines to ferrous mines. This data was then imported to ArcGIS, and overlain on the Bedrock Geology, and Census data. All of these maps combined, unveiled a beautiful representation of the Northwoods region according to Bedrock geology, mining, and employment.
The results rarely turn out the way one wants them to. A little flexibility is required to interpret the data and not have preconceived ideas of what you want the data to look like. The maps came together nicely, and created an easily seen region of the Northwoods.
This map represents all of the aspects of my research combined. The age of the Bedrock Geology is overlain by the Census data, and then overlain by the National Atlas’ data with the locations of the mines. The red shape represents my definition of the Northwoods region. I made this distinction based on all of this data combined. The Ferrous Metal mines are in the Northern sections of the states, because that is also where the Precambrian aged rocks are, correlating with metal contents. And in the southern part of the states there is higher percentage of Crushed rocks, and Sand and Gravel. This makes sense, seeing as this is where Cambrian Sandstone is prevalent. Between the concentration of employment in the mining sector of the economy, the age of the bedrock, and types of mines, the Northwoods can be defined by geology it’s influences on the mining industry.
This map represent the age of the bedrock geology. This is very important because the rocks desired for mining are in some of the oldest rocks in this region, as well as the more structurally complicated. This can be seen by the amount of faults, as well as the direction of the faults. An excellent example of this correlation is the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota.
This map represents the underlying geology with the county level Census layered on top. This map is necessary because it takes the total amount of employees working for the mining industry normalized to the total number of persons employed per county. The higher concentrations of mining employees are in the northern parts of the states, and greatly added to the delineation of the Northwoods region. The information came from the US Census webpage and was taken from the year 1994.
This map is very similar to the previous map, but the data is from the year 2004. This is the most recent data available by the US Census, and proves that mining is still a viable source of the economy in recent years.
This map represents the distribution of Agricultural mining facilities in the states MI, MN, and WI. According to the National Atlas, ‘agricultural minerals operations are facilities that extract, process, or distribute agricultural minerals, such as sulfur, peat, and phosphate.’ This is interesting to see the relationship to the location of facilities and the age of the associated bedrock. They are generally located in younger rock packages, and therefore not mainly concentrated in the northern sections of the states.
This map is similar to the previous map in the fact that it represents Agricultural mining facilities and bedrock geology, but it also shows employment Census data. This is significant because it displays the importance of the geology to the economic viability of the county.
This map represents the location and concentration of Construction Mineral mines in the states MI, MN and WI. The National Atlas defines Construction Minerals as “facilities that extract, process, or distribute construction minerals, such as clay, dimension stone, and cement.” This is important and significant to the Northwoods region because these mines are absent from the Northwoods, for the most part.
This map represents the location and concentration of Construction Mineral mines and their correlation to the concentration of mining employment via county. This is significant because these mines are focused in packages of rocks not specific to the dense concentration of mining employees. This information also helps delineate the Northwoods region.
This map represents the location and concentration of Crushed Stone mines and the ages of the stone being crushed. Most crushed stone mines or facilities are using the rock for construction purposes. This is a great map of the argument of geology and the Northwoods region, because the Crushed Stone facilities are in the southern sections of the associated states. They are also in younger rocks.
This map represents the coloration between the location of Crushed Stone mining facilities and concentration of mining employment. Although there are several facilities, not many exist within the Northwoods region, and therefore do not aid in the concentration of mining in the Northwoods.
This map represents the relationship between the Ferrous Metal mines and the age of the associated geology. This map is an excellent advocate for the Northwoods region, because of their age associations and structure associations. According to the National Atlas, “Ferrous metal mines are facilities that extract ferrous metals, such as iron ore or molybdenum.” The older, more geologically complicated rocks are more likely to contain such minerals, making them more likely to be economically viable to extract.
This map is very important to the argument of the Northwoods region being associated to the bedrock geology. The concentration of Ferrous Metal mining facilities are also correlated in the counties with the highest concentration of mining employees, and the proper geology setting.
This map represents the relationship between Miscellaneous Mineral mines and the age of the associated bedrock. The Nation Atlas defines Miscellaneous mining as, “facilities that extract, process, or distribute miscellaneous industrial minerals, such as kaolin, lime, salt, and fuller's earth.” One of the major contributors are the salt mines in MI.
This map represents the location of Miscellaneous Mineral mines and the concentration of mining employees. This map beautifully displays the location and concentration of salt mines and other Miscellaneous Mineral Industry Mines and mining facilities though out lower MI.
This map represents the location of the Refractory Industrial facilities in the states MI, MN, and WI. The National Atlas describes Refractory Industrial facilities as, “facilities that extract, process, or distribute industrial minerals, such as industrial sand and gravel, bentonite, and gemstones.” These facilities have the potential to be very economically important.
This map represents the location of the Refractory Industrial Minerals mine, and the concentration of mining employees in the associated county. There are no RIM mines or facilities in the Northwoods region.
This map represents the location of Sand and Gravel facilities and their geologic age associations. This is a very important map in defining the Northwoods because the Northwoods region lacks the high concentration of these mining facilities. They are more likely to be concentrated in the younger sediment packages, than the older volcanic or metamorphics.
This map represents the concentration of Sand and Gravel mining facilities and the percentage of mining employees. This is a significant map because it reviles the concretion of Sand and Gravel mines in the younger rocks, and the lack of employment concentration.
This map is the representation of my interpretation of the Northwoods. I created it according to the age of the Bedrock geology, the concentration of Ferrous Metal mines, and the percentage of mining employees per county. It is represented on all of the maps I created.
These maps represent a higher concentration of mining in the northern parts of the states MI, MN, and WI. This data in relation to the geologic maps represents a correlation between not only the concentration of mining employees, but the type of mining facility. I believe the argument for the development of a Northwoods region requires the associated age of the bedrock geology, concentration of mining employees, and the breakdown of the specific types of mining facilities. Figures 11 and 12 are excellent examples of how the three types of data reflect and complement each other. Figures 17 and 18 are also excellent examples of three types of mining data, because they show the distribution of Sand and Gravel mines and are primarily absent from the Northwoods region. These maps heavily impacted my delineation of a Northwoods region. The Northwoods can be defended and defined by the bedrock geology, mining employee concentration, and specific type of mining facility. When all three of these concepts come together, a clear delineation of the Northwoods region can be distinguished.
National Atlas. Raw Data Download: Geology. [updated 17 September 2009; cited 30 November 2009]
Precambrian Research Center. Mission and Goals of the Precambrian Research Center. [updated 26 December 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 1994 County Business Patterns: Michigan. [updated 16 September 1996; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 1994 County Business Patterns: Minnesota. [updated 16 September 1996; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 1994 County Business Patterns: Wisconsin. [updated 16 September 1996; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Michigan. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Minnesota. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Wisconsin. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2002 Economic Census: Michigan. [updated 1 November 2005; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2002 Economic Census: Minnesota. [updated 1 November 2005; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2002 Economic Census: Wisconsin. [updated 1 November 2005; cited 30 November 2009] Available from
US Geological Survey. Preliminary Integrated Geologic Map Databases for the United
States: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indian. [cited 30 November 2005] available from
US Geological Survey. Methods to Create ArcMap® Styles with Examples for Lithology and Time. [updated 22 November 2005; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Geological Survey. Michigan Geologic Map Data. [updated 2 November 2009; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Geological Survey. Minnesota Geologic Map Data. [updated 2 November 2009; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Geological Survey. Wisconsin Geologic Map Data. [updated 2 November 2009; cited 30 November 2009] available from