Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A transect through Vermont's most famous volcano - Mount Ascutney

December 31, 2019

The Cretaceous Ascutney Mountain igneous complex affords a classic exposure of the White Mountain Igneous Suite. Often called Vermont’s most famous volcano, Mount Ascutney (elev. 3,144 feet, 958 m) stands as a prominent monadnock in the Connecticut River Valley. The mountain often serves as an inspirational landmark, as it does when viewed from locations throughout the valley including the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (Walsh, 2017). The Ascutney Mountain igneous complex (Ratcliffe and others, 2011) consists of several mafic to felsic nested plutons including gabbro-diorite exposed at Little Ascutney to the west, and the Ascutney Mountain stock composed of syenite, granite, and related volcanic rocks underlying the main summit to the east (Fig. 1) (Schneiderman, 1989, 1991). Foland and Faul (1977) and Foland and others (1985) dated the gabbro-diorite complex at 125.5 to 122.2 Ma by K-Ar on biotite and by whole rock Rb/Sr, and dated the syenite-granite complex at 123.2 to 121.4 Ma by K-Ar on biotite. During the field trip we will visit the host rocks south of the mountain and the main rocks types of the Ascutney Mountain stock exposed near the summit and along the Mount Ascutney toll road.

Mount Ascutney is the classic location where Daly (1903) discussed the evidence for piecemeal stoping as a pluton emplacement mechanism. This theory was later modified to favor cauldron subsidence, or ring-fracture stoping, as an alternative mode of emplacement (Chapman and Chapman, 1940). Our new mapping (Walsh and others, in press), which supersedes an earlier provisional study (Walsh and others, 1996a, b), supports the cauldron subsidence model, and shows that the main Ascutney Mountain stock is a funnel shaped composite pluton in agreement with geophysical data (Daniels, 1990). This field guide will primarily highlight the results of the new geologic mapping.

This field guide is modified from a field trip presented in 2017 (Walsh, 2017). Additional stops have been added to examine the host rocks in the region south of the Ascutney Mountain stock. Two hikes are planned as part of this trip. Other NEIGC field trip guides to Mount Ascutney include Stoiber (1954) and Schneiderman (1988).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title A transect through Vermont's most famous volcano - Mount Ascutney
Authors Gregory J. Walsh, Brooks P. Proctor, Karri R. Sicard, Peter M. Valley
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70216997
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florence Bascom Geoscience Center