New York Geology Blitz

We’re going backwards in time here.  I want to recap a bit of the last summer and fall, starting with the annual Brown geology graduate field trip.  This is a trip that I led in August and was essentially a geologic tour of New York state.  Below are some highlights and photos from the epic journey.

The Route:

Our general driving route

For your reference, here is a bedrock map of New York State.

Rock stops on day 1 included stromatolites near the town of Lake George, huge marble crystals in an outcrop along the Hudson River, and the Gore Mountain Garnet Mine.

These huge marble grains are bluish-gray due to slight amounts of impurities (graphite). The low outrcop is found along the Hudson River.

Taka mapping out the marble and interspersed layers and folds of resistant mineral types.

Large reddish purple garnets at Gore Mountain

Day 2 took us into the heart of the Adirondacks:  We started the morning with a drive up Whiteface Mountain.  Very nice views, goofy architecture, an elevator through the mountain, and two types of anorthosite.  We also visited Cascade slide, which was a harrowing hike/climb up the side of a steep cliff.  Well worth it to see some less-common minerals.

Atop Whiteface Mountain

Our van, dubbed “Blue Balls”, carried us northward out of the mountains to the 1000 Lakes Region along the Canadian Border.  We had nice views of Potsdam Sandstone, and after stopping at several false outcrops on the way to our campsite, we found the unconformity between Precambrian and Cambrian strata along Route 12.  Our campsite this evening was premier, along the shore of the St. Lawrence River, with the stars shining and cookstove stir-fry for dinner.

I will insert a Book Recommendation here:  Roadside Geologists Guide: New York. This book got us through the long drive sections, such as on day 3, and helped us find several of our destinations.  We spent this night at Sam’s relatives swanky beachside resort in Sunset Beach, NY.

Day 4 was our visit to Niagara Falls and the surrounding area.  This was awesome, especially for the first-timers, although I feel no urgency to return there.

It was loud and chaotic. This picture is from the Hurricane Deck of the Falls. The waterfall has migrated about 7 miles upstream in the last 12,000 years

Stephanie and Samantha in their foul-weather gear on the Hurricane Deck. Bonus: we all got a pair of stylish sandels for taking the tour.

The view from below the Hurricane Deck does not offer much reassurance. The entire structure is replaced annually – I’m not sure if I would love or hate that job.

Miguel happy about the cross-bedding he is standing on. Or maybe the color of the water. Or maybe being in America.

Geology everywhere! These are stylolites found in the restroom at the visitors center of The Whirlpool, just downstream from Niagara Falls.

Our last big geology day included a walk down Enfield Glen near Ithaca, NY and Canojoharie Creek. Canojoharie is a great stop, with fluvial potholes, Hippotomus backs (large stromatolites), and the boundary between the Canojoharie Shale and underlying dolostone and limestone.

A view of the Enfield Glen, just outisde of Ithaca, NY. The rocks are of Devonian Age and are marked by many vertical joints.

The group checking out the walls of the Enfield Glen. I also recommend this area for casual day hikers.

Graduate student Kevin Cannon points out the boundary between dolostone and the overlying Canojoharie shale as well as the graptolites evident in the shale.

And with these as our last stops, we headed home and went straight to sleep.