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State and Regional Geology: A Guide to Resources (June 2014): Northeastern United States

By Linda R. Zellmer

Northeastern United States

The northeastern United States, also
known as New England, includes the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.  Two scholarly titles describe the geology of New England.  Contributions to the Stratigraphy of New England, edited by Lincoln Page, is a collection of articles summarizing New England rock units through geologic time.  Studies of Appalachian Geology: Northern and Maritime, edited by E-an Zen, is a collection of technical articles on the geology of the Appalachians in New England.  Chet Raymo and Maureen Raymo’s Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States provides a general introduction to the region’s geology and the best description of its geologic history in light of plate tectonics.  Richard Little’s Dinosaurs, Dunes, and Drifting Continents: The Geology of the Connecticut River Valley provides a current interpretation of the geologic history of parts of Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  The glacial history and deglaciation of the region is described in Late Wisconsinan Glaciation of New England, a collection of articles on the last glacial advance in New England, edited by Grahame Larson and Byron Stone, and in Carl Koteff and Fred Pessl’s Systematic Ice Retreat in New England, which describes the deposits that were formed as the ice retreated after the last glacial maximum.

One of the most significant resources for New England geology is the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Guidebooks.  The conferences have been held almost every year since 1901.  The guidebooks dating from 1920 to 1989 are available online in the University of New Hampshire Libraries Digital Collections; reports of earlier conferences were published in the American Journal of Science and Science magazine.  They include papers and information on field trips to notable geological sites throughout New England and are a useful starting point for people researching New England geology.

The Explore! section of the website of the Maine Geological Survey provides a brief summary of the state’s bedrock, coastal, and surficial geology, fossils, groundwater, hazards, and more.  The survey published the six-volume set Studies in Maine Geology, edited by Robert Tucker and Robert Marvinney, on the state’s structure and stratigraphy, along with its igneous, metamorphic, and Quaternary geology.  David Kendall’s Glaciers and Granite: A Guide to Maine’s Landscape and Geology provides a more general description of the state’s geology.

New Hampshire’s geology is summarized in a three-volume set, The Geology of New Hampshire, which describes the state’s surficial and bedrock geology and mineral resources.  All are available online from the website of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.  More recent interpretations of the state’s geology can be found in books on New England.

The Vermont Geological Survey suffered flood damage in 2011 during Hurricane Irene.  As a result, many early reports on Vermont’s geology have been digitized and made available through the survey’s website.  Two titles describe the bedrock and surficial geology of Vermont.  Vermont Bedrock and Its Potential for Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide by Marjorie Gale, Laurence Becker, and Jon Kim presents a current description of Vermont’s bedrock with information on its geologic history.  David Stewart and Paul MacClintock’s The Surficial Geology and Pleistocene History of Vermont describes the glacial history of the state.

Massachusetts did not formally establish a state geological survey until 2002, although other agencies and groups issued geological reports on the commonwealth.  An early report, Benjamin Emerson’s Geology of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, describes the rock units of the two states.  The Bedrock Geology of Massachusetts, chapters A-D and chapters E-J, edited by Norman Hatch, is a collection of papers summarizing more current information on Massachusetts’s bedrock.  Massachusetts’s glacial geology is described in volumes covering all of New England.

Like much of New England, Rhode Island has older bedrock and more recent glacial deposits.  Alonzo Quinn described the bedrock of the state in Bedrock Geology of Rhode Island.  In Rhode Island Geology for the Non-Geologist, Quinn provides a general summary of the state’s bedrock and glacial geology, including information on geological points of interest.  In Rhode Island: The Last Billion Years, D. Murray interprets the state’s geology based on plate tectonics.

The geology of Connecticut was described in several early works, including William Rice and Herbert Gregory’s Manual of the Geology of Connecticut, which contains information on the state’s geologic units, and Richard Flint’s The Glacial Geology of Connecticut, which summarizes the glacial deposits.  These have been updated by several other publications, including Margaret Coleman’s The Geologic History of Connecticut’s Bedrock, which interprets the bedrock through plate tectonics, and the Quaternary Geologic Map of Connecticut and Long Island Sound Basin, edited by Janet Stone et al., which includes maps and descriptive text that reinterpret Connecticut glacial deposits.  Michael Bell’s The Face of Connecticut: People, Geology and the Land relates the state’s geology to its land use and resources.

Works Cited