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Paleozoic and Mesozoic tectonic events west of the Waterbury Dome: Results of new mapping in the western Connecticut Highlands

September 24, 2021

This field trip highlights the results of recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) bedrock geologic mapping in four 7.5 min quadrangles in the western Connecticut highlands near Southbury, Connecticut, USA. The rocks are broadly within what Rodgers (1985) called the Hartland and Gneiss Dome belts of the Connecticut Valley Synclinorium (Rodgers, 1985Fig. 1), the latter of which is now known as the Connecticut Valley–Gaspe Trough (Hibbard et al., 2006). The mapping occurred over two intervals: 2003–2005 and 2016–present. In the first, the goal was a detailed map of the early Mesozoic Pomperaug basin, which overlaps the four quadrangles. Portions of the basin had been separately mapped during the statewide 7.5 min quadrangle mapping campaign spanning the 1950s–1970s, resulting in an inaccurate depiction of the basin on the 1985 state geologic map (Rodgers, 1985). A new map of the basin was proposed in part to benefit an ongoing project by the USGS Connecticut Water Science Center to determine the contributions of natural and artificial contaminants to a public water-supply well in Woodbury, Connecticut, under the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program (Starn and Brown, 2007). The NAWQA project was partially funded by the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, which also provided logistical support to the geologic mapping project. Mapping of the basin was also a high priority for the Connecticut State Geologist at the time (Ralph Lewis, 2002, pers. comm.). The mapping resulted in an NEIGC (New England Intercollegiate Geologic Conference) field guide (Burton et al., 2005) and a 1:12,000-scale USGS open-file map (Burton, 2006) and was funded by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP).

The second phase of the mapping began in 2016 after the discovery of elevated levels of uranium and arsenic in domestic water wells in the igneous and metamorphic rocks that surround the sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Pomperaug basin (Flanagan and Brown, 2017). Structural measurements in the surrounding crystalline rocks were made during Pomperaug basin mapping to better understand the tectonic setting, but a revision of the crystalline map units on Rodgers’ 1985 geologic map was not attempted. Nonetheless, discrepancies were noted between the new mapping and the 1985 map, particularly within the two northern quadrangles of Woodbury and Roxbury, which were originally mapped by Gates (1954) and Gates (1959), respectively. Based on these discrepancies, a new NCGMP project was proposed to remap the Woodbury and Roxbury 7.5 min quadrangles, commencing in the fall of 2016. The expected USGS product will be a two-quadrangle, 1:24,000-scale Scientific Investigations Map (SIM).

This field guide is not meant as a comprehensive review of all of the geologic research done in this area of Connecticut; rather, it looks at previous bedrock geologic mapping from the perspective of new and recent mapping in the four-quadrangle area and discusses the structural, stratigraphic, and nomenclatural revisions necessary for the next revision of the state geologic map.

Publication Year 2021
Title Paleozoic and Mesozoic tectonic events west of the Waterbury Dome: Results of new mapping in the western Connecticut Highlands
DOI 10.1130/2021.0061(01)
Authors William C. Burton, William J. Devlin
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70211246
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florence Bascom Geoscience Center