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Rocks of Connecticut

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| Rocks of Connecticut | [Type the document subtitle] | | Raury Duffy | 4/27/2011 |

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I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life and until now I was unaware of its geological history. Admiring the landscape of the state has always been one of my great pleasures. When I traveled around the country I would compare the natural wonders of each state to my own. Besides the rocky mountains in Colorado and the white mountains of New Hampshire few places match Connecticut’s regal terrain. Growing up in Bristol I would hike up to Pinnacle Mountain in Plainville, my friends and I would stand in awe of the magnificent rock structures. In the summer I would go on vacation to Old Lyme, it was there I fell in love with the earth’s most beautiful contrasts, the ocean meeting the rock and vice a versa. But until now I never educated myself on how all this magnificence came about. In this paper I will chronologically describe the eras and events that formed Connecticut’s geologic history.

The oldest rocks provide a window through time telling a story of continental collisions so powerful that they raised mountains thousands of feet high. Others reveal evidence of a slow but constant attack from the elements that wore down those same majestic peaks (Mchone 2004). Giant monoliths stand testament to a time when the earths crust was cracked and lava flowed over the state. Beaches and enormous boulders are the remains of when Connecticut was frozen beneath a sheet of ice (Mchone2004).

The Archeozoic era Archean period: The story begins about 400 million years ago when the North American continent was formed. It was a turbulent time with very explosive volcanic activity. Most rocks from this period have gone through so much change that today they are very difficult to interpret (Cook 1933). The one rock geologist's were able to discover was Becket gneiss, it is considered Connecticut’s oldest rock.

The Paleozoic Era Cambrian period: Most of Connecticut’s rocks were formed during this era. The state was mostly land; however geologists have found limestone deposits imbedded in Putnam gneiss which would indicate that the eastern portion of the state was covered by sea. In the west stretched a shallow salt water bay. In the water sediments were laid down, they later formed Stockbridge limestone. It is actually a type of marble. Today you can still see this stone in action, the state capital in Hartford is built entirely of that particular rock. The bay also produced quartzite that can be found in the North Western portion of the state (Troxell 1923).

Ordovician period: During this period rocks were being raised and folded, pressure brought about metamorphism. The Stockbridge limestone was partly changed to marble; Berkshire and Hartland schist were produced as a result of a massive collision known as the Taconic revolution. Mountains were formed that had an altitude of 20,000 feet; this was the beginning of the Connecticut highlands (Cook 1933).

Silvrian period: The records are incomplete from this time period. Geologists speculate that the lack of evidence indicates that the state must have been a giant land mass with a basin of salt water to its west and an ocean to the east. The Taconic Mountains were being eroded and sediments were swept into the western portion of the state. These sediments became the Waterbury gneiss (Cook 1933).

Devonian period: Pegmatite dikes serve as evidence of this time period. The mountain making had ceased and rivers carried sediments to the west creating the alluvial plain (Flint 1930).

Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian periods: The Appalachian cataclysm produced mountains 10,000 feet high that replaced the sea that previously occupied the west, rocks were folded and granite intruded these folds. When compression was at its highest, slates, marbles, gneisses and schist’s were formed. A central trough started to materialize between the highlands; this was the inception of lowlands (Cook 1933).

The Mesozoic Era Triassic period: It is believed that the coast stretched past long Island and that the state was much larger during this time. Mountains stood tall in the eastern and western sections of the state. Wind blown deposites filled the waters. Triassic sandstone was formed including schales and conglomerates as a result of these deposits (Schairer 1931).

Jurassic,Comanchean and Cretaceous Periods: After the volcanic activity of the previous periods the sedimentary rocks tilted on an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. The elevation of the west was higher than that of the east, streams changed courses and their velocity increased. Boulders and sand were carried into the valleys to a depth of 2,500 feet. Trap rock surfaced and ridges were formed (Cook 1933).

The Cenozoic Era Tertiary Period: A worldwide cataclysm took place during this time, Connecticut’s portion of the change was known as the tertiary uplift. This gave the state an even skyline, the highest point was Bear Mountain at 2,355 ft. Weathering leveled the sandstones to a level below the resisting trap rock. At this point Connecticut started to look similar to what we see today (Troxell 1923).

Quaternary Period: Ice hundreds of feet thick moved from the north through Connecticut 4 and possibly 5 times. In the south it reached Long Island and Fishers Island. Rocks that were picked up by the giant Ice sheet were deposited all over Connecticut. They dammed rivers forming lakes and ponds. Waterfalls cascaded and rivers sought new levels. The till or drift that was deposited formed moraines. Clay beds, sand planes and serpentine ridges give us evidence of these massive glaciers (Cook 1933).

In this next section I will try to explain my observations of the geology of Madison ct. I began my research at Hamonassett state park specifically the Meigs point region. What I found were large boulders that were scattered across the point. These are left over’s from a glacier that covered North America 26,000 years ago. It took around 10,000 years to fully recede. Most of the boulders I observed were granite others were foliated and probably granite gneiss.

After Hamonassett I traveled to west wharf and then to the surf club at both places there is a huge outcrop of rock that stretches about 100 feet into the water. The rock is metaphoric. I was able to make this assumption by observing the banding that was throughout the rock. After doing some research I found out they formed during the Permian Period of the Palezoic Era. Great pressure was applied to the sediments I believe it may have been part of the Appalachian movement. The rock looks to be sterling granite gneiss with many pegmatite layers some that appear to be quartz.

Researching this paper has taught me a lot, I learned by reading books and physically observing nature. I spent hours down at the beach trying to figure how the rocks I was looking at came to be. Then it dawned on me the ocean must have weathered the Igneous rocks breaking them down into sediment and then great pressure was applied by the rocks on top of them causing them morph into new rock. Finally erosion has exposed what we see today. I love nature and I have always enjoyed viewing her majesty. Understanding the history has helped me appreciate the beauty a little bit more. This class and paper was just what I needed to peak my curiosity.

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