Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 27-1
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


VER STRAETEN, Charles, New York State Museum & Geological Survey, 3140 Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230, STEIN, William E., Dept. Biological Sciences, SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13902 and BEHR, Rose-Anna, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 3240 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown, PA 17057

Following early reports of the rocks in New York’s Catskill Mountains (e.g., Pierce, 1823; Eaton, 1828), William Mather (1840) applied the terms “Catskill Mountain Group” and “Catskill Mountain Series” to the strata. Over the subsequent nearly 200 years, numerous geologists and paleontologists have roamed the Devonian terrestrial strata along the Acadian foreland in the U.S. and Canada. However, in many areas, much remains unknown about the strata and its fossils.

Studies in New York’s Devonian terrestrial over the last century include: George Chadwick’s stratigraphic work on the Catskill succession (1930s-40s), followed by periods of major foci on: Paleobotany (1950s-today), stratigraphy and petrography (1960s-70s), fluvial systems (1970s-80s), and terrestrial arthropods (1980s-2000s). Broader paleobiological studies, in part associated with the Red Hill site in northern Pennsylvania, burgeoned in the 1990s and continue today. Recent research of impact is perhaps largely paleobiological, and includes early tetrapods, a complete Eospermatopteris (“Gilboa”) tree, and mapping of well-preserved forest floors, along with paleosols.

Difficulties in researching Devonian terrestrial strata include; the lateral discontinuity of terrestrial facies and the lack of distinctive, unique marker beds for correlation place to place; little biostratigraphic control; extensive cover in sometimes rugged terrain; too few researchers, and a lack of cross-disciplinary experience, to note and report discoveries related to other fields of research.

Key issues that remain largely unresolved in New York and beyond include: A lack of biostratigraphic/relative age data for regional to global correlation of the succession, and position within the Devonian time scale (e.g., palynology, microvertebrate fossils, isotope geochemistry); no systematic documentation of the vertical Catskill succession; and lateral comparison along the foreland of variations in provenance/drainage evolution, via petrography, detrital mineral dating and other methods.

While much work has been done over the last 200 years, the Devonian terrestrial system in eastern North America remains, in ways, a relative frontier. New collaborative work, building on current knowledge, can help build a new synthesis of these rocks and their fossils.