NEW YORK’S GEOLOGY AND PLATE TECTONICS
New York State has an array of geological features typical of a continent-sized land mass. Its geological heritage is particularly extensive in terms of the great age span of its rocks, the variety of geological features, and the long period of scientific research that it has received.
New York State can be broadly divided into three geological regions:
2. Because of repeated episodes of folding and faulting by orogenic (mountain-building) processes, the craton changes east of the Wallkill-Hudson-Lake Champlain Lowlands into the Appalachian Mountain belt of easternmost New York State. This second geological region of the state features New England-type geology. In this area, Adirondack-type basement was uplifted on faults (Hudson Highlands), and deepwater, continent-martin rocks of the Taconic slate belt were pushed into New York from their original position in the Connecticut River Valley region.
3. The state’s third geological region is coastal New York. The southern end of the New England Appalachians is covered by relatively young, flat-lying coastal plain rocks deposited during the “Age of Dinosaurs,” 255-65 million years ago (mya). Similar coastal plain rocks extend south from Long Island and southeast Staten Island to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico. Most New York State bedrock is mantled by late and postglacial sediments that rarely more than 20,000 years old. The black-dark gray colors of most of the state’s soils reflect a relatively recent origin following the northern retreat of continental ice sheets. From central Pennsylvania and further south, soils are red.