Northeastern Section–41st Annual Meeting (20–22 March 2006)

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


MCHONE, Nancy W., Connecticut Geol and Nat History Survey, Department of Environmental Protection, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127,

In Connecticut any science teacher can be assigned to teach earth science. Too often this results in teaching from a textbook with only pictures from other parts of the world. Students do not connect geology with their everyday lives. Because most teachers do not know enough geology to take students to a field site, there are no field trips. We have tried to help teachers feel more comfortable by taking them in the field during workshops. However, only a small percentage of teachers are reached this way. When the time came to update our non-specialist book on the geology of Connecticut, the Survey decided to break the geology into three different books, so busy teachers would not feel intimidated by a thick book. The first, financed by an Eisenhower Grant, describes the Mesozoic geology of central Connecticut and includes a CD-ROM with virtual field trips to actual sites. We include descriptions and pictures of sites in the large cities within the Mesozoic terrane, plus sites outside the cities. For each site we give directions to the site, a description and pictures, plus questions for the students to answer as they explore each site. The rocks are sandstones, shales, siltstones and basalts, sometimes with contacts between the basalt and the sedimentary rocks. The basalts occur as dikes, sills and flows. Some of the sediments are baked along the basalt contact. One site contains pillow basalts and muds squeezed up into the basalt. Faults are visible in some sites. Students can see the results of volcanic eruptions, earthquake faults, sediment deposition, erosion, glaciation, and even dinosaur footprints all within their own little state.

For plate tectonics we have published a book with detailed drawings of exactly which parts of Connecticut were involved in each orogeny. Students can learn where their back yards came from and why they find certain types of rocks there. The two books published so far are Connecticut in the Mesozoic world, by J. Gregory McHone and The geologic history of Connecticut's bedrock, by Margaret Coleman. We plan to also publish a glacial geology book.