Essay: Geology of Long Island

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Geology of Long Island

Long Island is an Island that runs along the eastern coast of the United States, from New York City in the southwest, to the northeast (parallel to the state of Connecticut). At its longest and widest points, it is almost 120 miles long and just under 25 miles wide, and contains two boroughs of New York City (Queens and Brooklyn) as well as two larger counties, (Nassau and Suffolk) which are mostly suburban. This island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the southeast and Long Island Sound to the northwest, but is connected to Manhattan by a number of bridges and tunnels. Long Island is believed to consist of a layer of bedrock made up of "metamorphic and igneous rocks of the pre-Mesozoic age," (Lewis, 1987) and marked the southern most point of glaciation during the last Ice Age. Because of the effect of glaciation during the last Ice Age, the geology of Long Island was transformed during that time. Therefore, it is interesting to examine the geology of Long Island before, during and after the latest period of glaciation.

As previously stated, Long Island rests on bedrock made up of metamorphic and igneous rocks, but has been covered by deposits of sands and clays from the Cretaceous period some 70 million years ago. ("Geology of Long Island.") This was the geological condition of Long Island prior to the glaciers moving into the area during the Wisconsin stage of the Pleistocene Epoch. The Wisconsin stage "started in Canada about 85,000 years ago, reached Connecticut about 26,000 years ago and began to wane on Long Island about 21,000 years ago." ("Geologic History") The ice sheet extended half way down Long Island and the southernmost point is marked by the accumulation of rocks and other debris carried by the glacier. This point is called a terminal moraine, and there are two terminal moraines on Long Island, the Ronkonkoma and the Harbor Hill, which mark the southernmost point of glaciation during two distinct sub-stages. These moraines currently are the highest points on Long Island.

As the ice sheet retreated, it left behind not only ridges of debris at its edge, but also… [END OF PREVIEW]

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