Adirondack Mountains in New York
The Department of Geosciences recently returned from the 2013 Fall Field trip to the Adirondack Mountains in New York and points across the state. Some of the highlights of the trip included a visit to Niagara Falls, mining for Herkimer Diamonds (doubly-terminated quartz crystals) at the Ace of Diamonds Mine and examining some of the billion year (and older) rocks that make up the core of the Adirondacks.
We were also able to visit the Syracuse University Lava Project, where we were audience to a "lava pour". This combination art and geology event involved pouring hundreds of pounds of molten basalt across a wet, sandy surface to see what kind of lava flow forms. The result was spectacular forms of lava bubbles and ropey pahoehoe-like lava. We also visited the Great Unconformity near Ticonderoga, New York. This spot marks the boundary between Precambrian and Cambrian rocks and its found all over the world. 500 million years of Earth's history are missing across the boundary, when the supercontinent Rodinia was eroding. A recent paper in Nature by Shanan Peters (DU '98) and Robert Gaines suggests that as sea level rose across this new sediment, the calcite in the oceans allowed for new shelled life to arise (the "Cambrian Explosion" of life). All this combined for a great field trip where Denison Geosciences students and faculty were able to get up close with the rocks that make up the core of eastern North America.