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Home » » THE CATSKILL GEOLOGISTS BY PROFESSORS ROBERT AND JOHANNA TITUS - A Visit to another Rte. 23 Outcrop

THE CATSKILL GEOLOGISTS BY PROFESSORS ROBERT AND JOHANNA TITUS - A Visit to another Rte. 23 Outcrop

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

We commonly, - no, very commonly - are asked about “that outcrop” at the Rte. 23 exit that takes you onto Rte. 23B and then on towards the Hamlet of Leeds. People drive by, and very frequently see large numbers of college students climbing all over it. See our first photo. “What is going on there” we are asked. Well, before we continue today, we hope you can look again at our column from two weeks ago, especially the photo. That’s our second photo.

       A group of people walking up a cliff

Description automatically generated  A rocky cliff with a body of water

Description automatically generated

In that column we visited Siccar Point offshore of Scotland and saw an outcropping that was visited by James Hutton in 1788. Hutton found two units of stratified rock. Again, see our second photo. The lower unit was tilted steeply while the upper one was only gently tilted. The two units were separated by an erosional surface. Hutton truly had an epiphany, one of the greatest in the history of science. He saw two episodes of deposition, mountain building, weathering and erosion. The first unit was deposited; later it was tilted by mountain building. The second unit was deposited, and it too was tilted by a second episode of mountain building. Two mountain ranges were uplifted and then eroded away. But more than anything else, James Hutton saw an immense amount of time, geological time.

Well, as we said, the Siccar Point location has come to be revered by geologists from all around the globe. Now, take another look at our photo of that outcrop along Rte. 23 and compare it with last week’s photo. The Catskill exposure is remarkably similar to Siccar Point. So, you can imagine the excitement when, probably about a half century ago, these strata came to be exposed by highway construction? Suddenly, America had its own Siccar Point. Suddenly, American geologists did not have to go to Scotland to see so much geological history packed into one outcrop.

They began flocking to this location and they have never stopped. We like to think that every geologist from east of the Mississippi has been right here. That might even be true. We are betting that many Scottish geologists have visited. This is a truly well-known outcrop; it’s fair to call it famous. If you get a chance, you should visit it. Bring this column along.

Contact the authors at randjtitus@prodigy.net. Join their facebook page “The Catskill Geologist.” Read their blogs at “thecatskillgeologist.com.”

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