Beneath It All: Bedrock Geology of the Catskill Mountains and Implications of its Weathering

TitleBeneath It All: Bedrock Geology of the Catskill Mountains and Implications of its Weathering
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsVer Straeten, CA
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
KeywordsCatskill Mountains, geology, New York, weathering

The Devonian-age bedrock of the Catskill Mountains has been the focus of many studies. This paper reviews the character and composition of the rocks of the Catskills, and examines weathering (rock decay) processes and their implications in the Catskills. Rocks of the Catskills and closest foothills consist of siliciclastic rocks (sandstones, mudrocks, conglomerates) with minimal, locally dispersed carbonate rocks. The former are dominated by quartz, metamorphic and sedimentary rock fragments, and clay minerals. Other minor sediment components include cements, authigenic and heavy minerals, and fossil organic matter. Physical, chemical, and biological weathering of the Catskill bedrock since uplift of the Appalachian region, combined with glaciation, have dissected a plateau of nearly horizontally layered rocks into a series of ridges, valleys, and peaks. The varied weathering processes, in conjunction with many factors (natural and anthropogenic), fragment the rocks, forming sediment and releasing various elements and compounds. These may have positive, neutral, or negative implications for the region's soils, waters, ecology, and human usage. A new generation of studies and analyses of the Catskill bedrock is needed to help answer a broad set of questions and problems across various fields of interest.