Geology of New York City and Its Vicinity

What the Rocks Tell About New York in Ages Past

triassic dinosaurs

Top: Slab showing passage of two Triassic dinosaurs after a shower. The raindrop impressions are represented by small pits. After R.S. Lull; below: Impressions of the feet and tail of a Triassic dinosaur on a ripple-marked surface. Specimen from Pleasantdale, New Jersey

The Palæozoic Era: The Palæozoic rocks and fossils, which represent a tremendously long period of time and follow the Proterozoic Era, are not found in the immediate vicinity of New York City. They appear, however, in great force in western New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the Mississippi valley states.

The Mesozoic Era, Triassic Period: From the Hudson River westward to the crystalline rocks of the New Jersey highlands occur a thick series of reddish brown sandstones, shales, and called the Newark group, which dip 10 to 15 degrees to the northwest. Near Philadelphia, Trenton, and New Brunswick, the Stockton, Locatong, and Brunswick formations have been differentiated, but not beneath the glacial drift cover to the northeastward. These sedimentary rocks were deposited in a trough or graben with faulted margins which extended southwestward from the Hudson River across central New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland into southern Virginia. In all probability a major stream with lateral tributaries occupied the depression. The region was presumably high and arid. Ripple marks, mud cracks, rain drop impressions, and footprints of reptiles are common, especially in the Brunswick shale, and indicate flood plain and shallow water deposition. Restorations of the dinosaurs Stegomus, Anomoepus. Podokesaurus, Anchisaurus, and Rutiodon (Rhytidodon), which inhabited this zone and the Connecticut Valley, are shown in accompanying illustrations. Only one skeleton, the Fort Lee Rutiodon, has been found near New York City. Fossil fishes and a small crustacean, Estheria ovata, have also been found. The fossil remains indicate Triassic age, the initial period of the Mesozoic Era, sometimes called the Age of Reptiles.

triassic age dinosaurs

Certain types of dinosaurs of Triassic age which inhabited the New York, Virginia, and Connecticut valley basins

Three successive lava flows which were extruded during the deposition of the Newark beds have been subsequently faulted, flexed, and tilted into their present position. Since that event erosion has removed a great thickness of the sedimentary rocks and the upturned edges of the lava sheets are now exposed. The First and Second Watchung Mountains and Hook Mountain represent these three basaltic flows. The lowest, First Mountain, is about 6oo feet thick, Second Mountain 800 feet, and Hook Mountain 300 feet. About 600 feet of red sandstone and shale separate the first and second, and 1500 feet the second and third. Red Triassic sandstone and shale are also found above and below these volcanic rocks.

The Palisade diabase is a great sheet of igneous rock, from 50 to 1000 feet thick, which was intruded among the lower strata of the Newark group. It extends from Staten Island northward along the west bank of the Hudson River to Haverstraw. At its southern exposed extremity it is practically at sea level, while at the north it is 700 feet higher. Throughout most of its extent it presents an escarpment of high cliffs with vertical columns of rock which were developed during the cooling stage and which suggest the name Palisades.

view counter
view counter

Recent Stories

Peaks protected fifty years ago by the Wilderness Act no longer keep mountain goats safe from human impact.

By the 1920s, California had lost all of its grizzly bears—once considered a distinct species and an emblem of the state.

Preconceptions skew our view of the biggest killer in the developed world, atherosclerosis.