Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM
CULTURAL GEOLOGY OF STATEN ISLAND, NY
The interaction between geology and culture is represented on Staten Island by building stone, monuments, and gravestones. The corridors of the Staten Island Mall are tiled with a 160 million year old Comblanchien limestone that contains fossils of bivalves, corals and gastropods. In November of 2003 the mall was opened early so that “general education” students from the College of Staten Island could study these fossils. Since then, signage identifying select fossils has been placed around the mall directing observers to those fossils. We have developed a Staten Island mall exercise for our general education students. A nearby public school revealed an internal wall of limestone containing fossils of brachiopods, bryozoans and corals. Another school has internal walls that contain limestone exhibiting stylolites. Many of the older gravestones in the Moravian Cemetery consist of marbles, and sandstones. One of the more extraordinary gravestones, for General Stephen Weed of civil war fame, is constructed of a limestone containing crinoid fossils. Other examples include a church exterior constructed from Staten Island Serpentinite and walls constructed of Palisades diabase, In addition, clay from Staten Island was utilized for bricks. Iron ore and diabase were quarried and asbestos was mined. It is noted that straw and rose colored “amianthus” was discovered on Staten Island around 1818. According to Frondel (1988) this probably led to the first large-scale asbestos mining operation in the United States.