Geology of the Trenton Falls Area

West Canada Creek, a tributary of the Mohawk River of central New York State, descends through a magnificent gorge exposing interbedded fossiliferous limestones and shales. The majestic cascades, known as Trenton Falls, were created only recently in geological history, but the period of time recorded within the rocks dates to a much earlier time in earth's history known as the late Ordovician Period (460 to 443 million years ago). The creek, its falls, and its limestones are a world-class locality. Trenton paintingThis wonderful site, with all of its splendor, is revered not only for its natural beauty, but for its role in the development of North American Geology and the geology of the world.

Having grown up in the vicinity of Trenton Falls, Charles Doolittle Walcott, discoverer of the famous Burgess Shale Fauna, became acquainted with the areas' fossils as a youngster. His abiding interest and delight in collecting these fossils inadvertently established a legacy in North American Geology. Walcott's extensive invertebrate fossil collections, housed at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology since 1873, compose a significant contribution to natural history and the history of geology.

The purpose of this website is to provide an overview of various aspects of the sedimentary, stratigraphic, and paleontologic history of Trenton Falls. The background geology portion of this website is intended to complement the digital image database of Trenton fossil specimens at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. The documentation herein, of the fossil specimens and the detailed geological summary of the collection site, presents readers with a virtual fieldtrip from which they can take away a historical perspective with respect to the history of research performed at Trenton Falls. They can also benefit from a series of geological "primers" with respect to aspects of carbonate sedimentology, stratigraphic research, as well as various paleontologic implications.