Reading the Rocks of the Catskills: A Geological History

Reading the Rocks of the Catskills: A Geological History

Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten, Geologist, New York State Museum

What do the rocks of the Catskills tell us about the region nearly 400 million years ago? Rivers were draining Andes-scale mountains in New England. The water, sand, and mud were on their way to a shallow sea to the west. Some of Earth’s oldest forests were scattered across the land, with primitive plants and animals living here long before the dinosaurs. Volcanic ash settled across the land and sea from explosive eruptions in New England. And, yes, all of this was happening when we were 30 degrees south of the equator. Stretch your sense of time, place, and history, exploring the rocks of the Catskills.

Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten is Curator of Sedimentary Geology (Rocks) and a geologist at the New York State Museum in Albany. His research focuses on the geology and history of the Devonian Period (418 to 358 million years ago) in New York and beyond. You may find him along trails, cliffs and roadcuts in the Catskills region, scouring the rocks for clues to New York’s geological past. In his younger days, Chuck lived in the Woodstock area for 12 years, as a trombonist at the Creative Music Studio and in various bands, including the World Beat band Futu Futu. He continues exploring music, using his voice as an instrument.