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A transect through the base of the Bronson Hill Terrane in western New Hampshire

October 12, 2012

This trip will present the preliminary results of ongoing bedrock mapping in the North Hartland and Claremont North 7.5-minute quadrangles in western New Hampshire. The trip will travel from the Lebanon pluton to just north of the Sugar River pluton (Fig. 1) with the aim of examining the lower structural levels of the Bronson Hill anticlinorium (BHA), and the nature of the boundary with the rocks of the Connecticut Valley trough (CVT). Spear and others (2002, 2003, 2008) proposed that western New Hampshire was characterized by five major faults bounding five structural levels including, from lowest to highest, the “chicken yard line”, Western New Hampshire Boundary Thrust, Skitchewaug nappe, Fall Mountain nappe, and Chesham Pond nappe. Lyons and others (1996, 1997) showed the lowest level cored by the Cornish nappe and floored by the Monroe fault. Thompson and others (1968) explained the geometry of units by folding without major thrust faults, and described the second level as the Skitchewaug nappe. This trip will focus on the two lowest levels which we have revised to call the Monroe and Skitchewaug Mountain thrust sheets. Despite decades of geologic mapping in the northeastern United States at various scales, little 1:24,000-scale (or larger scale) modern bedrock mapping has been published for the state of New Hampshire. In fact, of the New England states, New Hampshire contains the fewest published, modern bedrock geologic maps. Conversely, adjacent Vermont has a relatively high percentage of modern bedrock maps due to focused efforts to create a new state-wide bedrock geologic map over the last few decades. The new Vermont map (Ratcliffe and others, 2011) has identified considerable gaps in our knowledge of the bedrock geology in adjacent New Hampshire where published maps are, in places, more than 50 years old and at scales ranging from 1:62,500 to 1:250,000. Fundamental questions remain concerning the geology across the Connecticut River, especially in regards to the stratigraphy of the BHA and CVT, and the distribution, or even existence, of faults ranging in age from Devonian to Mesozoic (e.g., Spear and others, 2008; McWilliams and others, 2010; Walsh and others, 2010). Questions to ponder on this trip include, but are not limited to: 1) Is the Bronson Hill anticlinorium allochthonous? 2) What is the crust beneath the Bronson Hill anticlinorium? 3) Is there a “Big Staurolite nappe” as proposed by Spear and others (2002, 2003, 2008)? 4) What is the role of Taconic, Acadian, and Alleghanian orogenesis in the tectonic development of the region? Modern 1:24,000-scale mapping is the first step towards answering these questions. Mapping will be supplemented by modern geochronology and geochemistry as this project develops. We plan to share some of our provisional results during this field trip.

Publication Year 2012
Title A transect through the base of the Bronson Hill Terrane in western New Hampshire
Authors Gregory J. Walsh, Peter M. Valley, Karri R. Sicard
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70156365
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center