Stratigraphic Geology


View of Upper High Falls

Photograph by Carlton E. Brett



The strata exposed at Trenton Falls represent one of the earliest, well-studied geology localities in the United States . Early in the 1800's geologists such as Amos Eaton, James Hall, and Lardner Vanuxem were champions of Trenton Falls geology. These workers were humbled by the grand scenery of the West Canada Creek chasm, and even more inspired by the occurrence of thousands of well-preserved fossils on nearly every bedding plane within the exposure.

Recognizing the need for further interpretation and diagnosis of the nature of these incredible limestones, later fossil collectors and geologists developed a series of "faunal zones." Still later, they assigned geographic locality names for specific strata as is the practice in today's geological nomenclature system. The Trenton Falls gorge section (from Trenton Falls village, to Prospect, New York) was initially established as the type section for the uppermost Middle Ordovician strata in North America, due to the outstanding rock exposures and well-defined fossil zonations. In today's relative geologic time scale, the Trenton Group is a rock term that is limited to the description of the rocks themselves, and the period of geological time encompassed in their record is known as the Late Mohawkian Epoch of the Late Ordovician Period.

The classical sections along West Canada Creek play an important role in understanding the development of eastern Laurentia during a critical period in Earth's history.

The following sections discuss the physical details of stratigraphic exposures and introduce geological concepts as applied to the understanding of these rocks.



© 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College