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Connecticut Valley Geological History

In order to better understand more about the present it is often necessary to know more about the past, our history and understand the background behind any given situation. This is the same in science. In older times people held a religious view of the universe and certain assumptions were made, such as the idea that the earth was the center of the universe. In time society would discover that the truth was bigger and better than anyone had imagined, older assumptions were discarded and our eyes were opened to more possibilities. This increased interest in science and the study of our universe. Included in the advance of science was our understanding of Geology.

Geologists began to study the age of the earth. This began as the study of relative dating and later expanded to include the study of absolute dating. Relative dating is simple and consists of determining the age of a rock in relation to the rocks around it. Absolute dating includes methods like carbon dating to determine the exact age of the earth with a particular measurement, such as years. With the knowledge mankind has gained in the last few hundred years we have found that the earth is far older than previously imagined. We find that, although the dinosaurs preceded us by millions of years, relatively it was not that long ago. We find that the geological history of sites like the Connecticut Valley is in fact much longer, extending back millions, even billions, of years before the dinosaurs.

Geologic Time in the Connecticut Valley

The oldest rocks found in the Connecticut Valley date back to around 1.6 billion years ago. It was around this time that the continents underwent several collisions and changes. By about 480 million years ago the valley was partially underwater. However, at that time it wasn't yet a valley, part of it was raised due to tectonic plate collisions and the other part was submerged. It wasn't until the age of dinosaurs that the valley took on several of the geological attributes it has today. First, near the beginning of the Mesozoic period all of the continents were united in the super-continent, Pangaea. As Pangaea began to break into the modern continents the separation aided in the formation of the Connecticut Valley. By the Jurassic period the continents had separated and the Atlantic ocean, though small, was forming. The climate was sub-tropical which continued past the dinosaur's extinction. Then the Ice Age settled in and the glaciers helped shape part of the valley as the ice melted around 12,000 years ago. It was then that humans began to populate the earth and the Connecticut Valley, as we know it, was fully formed.

ScienceViews Writer: Jason Hamilton.

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