The Great Lakes basins were carved from ancient river valleys by continental ice sheets that receded from the region less than 10,000 years ago. Not only did the glaciers create the basins now holding the lakes, but they are responsible for many of the shallow depressions in the coastal margin that have since developed as coastal wetlands of various types. For the past four thousand years, coastal processes in the lakes have further modified the shore topography to form embayments, coastal lagoons, estuaries, deltas, and solution basins where thousands of hectares of wetlands have become established. This paper will explore the origin of the various morphometric forms which these wetlands have taken and their characteristic hydrologic processes.

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