Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Helderberg Formation

Just south of Albany lies the Helderberg Escarpment descending from the Allegheny Plateau (visible in the background of the Albany skyline above). It's a fairly geologically interesting area, and I visited John Boyd Thatcher State Park this past weekend for a closer look. Soon I tripping down the Indian Ladder trail and poking around the Manlius and Coeymans Limestone which were deposited during Devonian epoch ~416 to 359 mya.Incidentally this area has been famous since the 1820's as one of the richest fossil beds in the world. Brachiopods, tentaculites and crinoids exist in abundance, and could be found embedded in the rocks. Also the visitor list to this area is virtually a Who's Who of the early American scientific establishment: Agassiz, Dana, Silliman, Marsh, Beecher, Hall, Le Conte, Emmons, Eaton, Walcott, Leidy, Whitney and many others. Walking over this historical ground was, thus, fascinating on two levels: it figures prominently in the history of life (as the Devonian-Silurian epochs follow on the heels of the Cambrian) and prominently in the history of science (as the above mentioned gentlemen were instrumental in the forming the major institutions that later made American science a world class enterprise).


  1. This is on my list of things to visit the next time I am up in your neck of the woods.

  2. I actually visited Petrified Sea Gardens a few weeks ago, only to find:

    Due to severe wind storm damage, Petrified Sea Gardens is no longer open for business