Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 50-7
Presentation Time: 10:20 AM


SCHIMMRICH, Steven H., STEM Department, SUNY Ulster County Community College, 491 Cottekill Road, Stone Ridge, NY 12484

Geology of the Hudson Valley is an elective field-based summer course which often attracts interested community members and K-12 science teachers as well as traditional students. It is taught as an intensive eight-day course entirely in the field at locations ranging from Manhattan to Albany. Students are assessed by the quality of their field notebooks, daily quizzes on the outcrops, and a final exam requiring them to synthesize the geologic development of the Hudson Valley Region.

The Hudson Valley is an excellent area for teaching regional geology with exposures of Grenville metamorphic and igneous rocks in the Hudson Highlands; metamorphosed Cambrian passive margin carbonates; deformed Ordovician and Silurian clastics separated by the Taconic unconformity; an extensive early Devonian carbonate sequence; deformed rocks of the Hudson Valley fold-thrust belt; clastics of the Catskill Delta; the Triassic Newark Rift and Palisades Sill; and widespread erosional and depositional evidence of Pleistocene glaciation. Most of these rocks and structures are readily visible along roadside exposures as well as in outcrop at numerous local and state parks.

In addition to the geologic history of the Hudson Valley (reflective of the geologic history of the Northeastern U.S.), students also learn much about the influence of the geology on the 400-year human history of the river by visiting abandoned magnetite iron mines in the Hudson Highlands; a lead-zinc mine in the Shawangunks; natural cement mines and quarries in the Rosendale-Kingston area; bluestone quarries in the Catskills; and clay deposits once used for brick making along the Hudson – all important resources in the region’s economic development.

The course also includes discussions on the history of the local Delaware and Hudson Canal, the importance of the Hudson River for transportation, relevant environmental issues (many consider the Hudson Valley to be the birthplace of the modern environmental movement), the significance of the Hudson River (and surrounding geology) to the Revolutionary War, and sites associated with the Hudson River School of Art.

The instructor has found that relating local geology to the rich history of the Hudson Valley reinforces student learning and retention as well as encouraging students to further explore areas of personal interest.