Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spring 2015 Geology Field Trip to the Northeast

Group photograph on Doane Rock on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  It is the largest glacial erratic on Cape Cod, standing 18 feet (5.5 m) high and extending below the ground an estimated 12 feet (3.7 m).  It was deposited by the Laurentide Ice Sheet, 18,000-12,000 years ago.

The Geology program took its biannual field trip May 11-22 to eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts, and northern New York.  Dr. Hudson had not conducted a field trip to New England since 2003.  He was accompanied by eight students:
  • Jaylynn Buchmelter – a Music Education major
  • Ryan Deemer - a Geology major
  • Madisen Fletcher - a Geology/Environmental Science major
  • Tyler McFarland – a Biology major
  • Deric Roll – a Geoscience Technology and Management major
  • Jennifer Savage – a Middle Grade Science Education major
  • Rachel Swartz – a Biology/Environmental Science major
  •  Jason Wolf – a Geology major
Active garent-wollastonite mine (a skarn formation) in the Eastern Adirondack mountains in New York State.  The red layers and large red boudin are primarily garnet, the white layers are wollastonite, and the dark layers are largely pyroxene.
This trip provided students with exposure to a wide variety of minerals, rocks of all three types, and geologic structures . . . and they collected a lot!!  Four days were spent examining metamorphic rocks of eastern Connecticut where they collected such minerals as garnet and sillimanite and rocks from schists to gneisses and saw structures such as folds, faults, and boudins.  One day was spent in the Triassic basin of central Connecticut where basalts and shales were collected and dinosaur footprints were observed.  Two days were spent near or on the Connecticut and Rhode Island coasts where they collected such minerals as garnet and staurolite and rocks from schists to gabbros, and saw structures such as faults and joints.  One day was spent on Cape Cod primarily to give students exposure to this somewhat unique geologic feature.  Two days were spent in the Adirondack Mountains looking at glacial geomorphology and erosion of the Potsdam sandstone by the Ausable River . . . but the highlight was wollastonite and garnet collecting at an active mine near Elizabethtown . . . and some of the 1980 Olympic memorabilia in Lake Placid! 

They towed a large U-Haul trailer behind a large four door Dodge Ram truck and also had a minivan.  While not quite as “convenient” as using the departmental box truck, it worked out well.  They camped in the Wolf Den Campgrounds in Mashamoquet Brook State Park located in Pomfret Center, Connecticut for nine nights and then a Quality Inn in Lake Placid, New York for two nights.  While in New England, temperatures were in the 40-55oF range at night and 65-75oF during the days.  They only had one significant rain event, which lead to one flooded tent!! Night time temperatures in the Adirondacks were in the low 30oF . . .  hence the hotel stay!  Ryan impressed everyone by swimming in the ocean and everyone swam in the indoor pool at the hotel Lake Placid!!

Two interesting comments from Dr. Hudson:  (1) Normally I take students to one good restaurant on our field trips and they eat my campsite cooking during the rest of the trip except for the two days we travel to and from Ohio … and these are fast food restaurants.   However, due to logistics we ended up eating at Mexican, Italian, and Seafood restaurants and two sports bars!  (2) The hotel owner in Lake Placid was an AU graduate who played soccer for by brother–in-law in the 1980’s!  Please enjoy the photographs that Dr. Hudson has provided. 
Left:  Group photograph on a large glacial erratic in the Ausable River at the base of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondack mountains in New York State.  Center:  Gillette Castle, which is made of quarried Hebron Formation rock, a greenschist facies epidote-actinolite-muscovite schist.  The inside of the castle was not open for the season yet, but we toured the outside and took the ferry across the Connecticut River, which it overlooks.  Right:  Sand dunes and sand covering the asphalt road near the northern tip of Cape Cod.

Group photograph on an outcrop of Purgatory Conglomerate, a “stretched pebble conglomerate” on a beach in the Rhode Island Sound, with most of the “pebbles” ranging from cobble to boulder size!!  “Stretching” was due to pressure solution and not extension!

New quarry in Lower Member (amphibolite facies garnet-biotite gneiss) of the Tatnic Hill Formation near West Thompson Dam north of Putnam, Connecticut.  We collected fantastic garnets here … perhaps two generations due to size and color.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mastodon Dig and AU Geology in the News

AU Geology Professor Dr. Nigel Brush and his mastodon dig in Morrow County were featured in a Mansfield News Journal article titled "Morrow County mastodon might have coexisted with humans." The article talks about how a team led by Brush spent several days digging up hundreds of bones and fragments from the Morrow County site and then several months piecing together fragments, identifying bones, cleaning and preserving the artifacts and collaborating with experts throughout the country and in Canada to research the findings. Several AU students assisted with this project.  The items from the dig were displayed in a lecture hall in Kettering Science Center. Check out the article at -- http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/08/03/morrow-county-mastodon-might-coexisted-humans/31082307/

Dr. Nigel Brush holds up two mastodon bone fragments