Central New York has changed dramatically throughout geologic time. A billion years ago, the area around Colgate was underneath a mountain belt the size of the Himalayas; 400 million years ago, the area was in the tropics and covered by a shallow sea. And as recently as 20,000 years ago, an ice sheet a mile thick covered Hamilton. How can we possibly know these things? The evidence is actually in the landscape all around us; we just need to learn how to read the clues left behind. And what better way to learn about these events than to be outside! This unique field-based seminar is designed to use the area around Colgate as a natural laboratory to study the geologic history of the region. The highlight of the course will be Monday afternoon fieldtrips to local areas where we will learn first-hand how to observe and interpret evidence for these and other dramatic geologic changes. Therefore, if you enroll in this seminar, you should plan to keep your Monday afternoons free from 1:20 to 5:00 PM. In addition, a weekend fieldtrip is planned to the nearby Adirondack Mountains. Evaluation will be based on semi-weekly writing assignments and a final research project on the geologic history of New York.
Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for a 100-level GEOL course and satisfy one half of the Natural Sciences & Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.
Martin Wong is a member of the Geology Department and has taught at Colgate since 2005. Martin researches how and why tectonic events such as mountain building and continental rifting occur, mainly in the western U.S.