2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


LAPORTA Jr, Philip C., LaPorta and Associates, L.L.C., Geological Consultants, 5 First Street #73, Warwick, NY 10990 and BREWER, Margaret C., LaPorta and Associates, L.L. C., Geol Consultants, 116 Bellvale Lakes Road, Warwick, NY 10990, plaporta@laportageol.com

The Smiths Basin mine is a prehistoric quarry landscape that encompasses hundreds of extensive mine sites trending through Washington County, New York in the southern Champlain Valley. The Paleozoic succession underlying the Smiths Basin area includes the Late Cambrian to Early Ordovician Beekmantown Group, which contains the Late Cambrian Potsdam Sandstone, Ticonderoga Formation, and lower Whitehall Formation and Early Ordovician upper Whitehall, Great Meadows and Fort Ann formations.

The northeast-striking, shallow-dipping, Cambrian and Lower Ordovician carbonate ramp succession contains a variety of cherts that have been mined intermittently from the Paleo-Indian through the Woodland periods. Prehistoric chert quarries occur in the Finch and Skene members of the Whitehall Formation, the Fort Edward Member of the Great Meadows Formation, as well as the Fort Ann Formation. A unique series of orthoquartzite quarries occur where mining instruments were fashioned to service local chert quarries. The mining instrument quarries are found in the Ticonderoga Formation, the intercalated sandstones of the Mosherville unit of the Whitehall Formation, and the Winchell Creek Sandstone of the Great Meadows Formation.

A pure mineral resource approach is being employed to evaluate and mitigate the extensive cultural deposits at the site. A hierarchical classification of the levels of quarrying will be initiated to create a National Register district along the periphery of an active mining operation, in cooperation with the current mining company working at the site and the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The quarry landscape has been geologically and archaeologically mapped. Geological mapping consisted of stratigraphic contact discrimination and rock attitude and deformational fabric measurement. Archaeological mapping consisted of spatial (GPS) cataloguing of all types of quarry and quarry task-support sites. In concert with traditional excavation techniques, the quarry walls were casted. The molds of the quarry faces will be preserved in a repository created by the mining company where future scientific investigations can be conducted.