I have an intense stretch of field work coming up over the next three months. As a way to take a deep breath before the work starts, we’re taking a quick family vacation to Maine this week. Maine is too far to easily drive there from Martinsville in a day, so we stopped in Hartford, CT last night. This morning we spent a couple of hours at Dinosaur State Park before continuing on our way.
Dinosaur State Park lies in the Hartford Basin, a rift basin associated with the breakup of Pangea and opening of the Atlantic Ocean. In this respect it’s geologically similar to the Danville Basin, which includes the Solite Quarry. However, the Atlantic rifting started in the south first and progressed to the north, so while the Danville Basin deposits are late Triassic in age, the Hartford Basin is early Jurassic.
There’s a chunk of the margin conglomerate sitting in the garden outside the museum. These conglomerates formed along the steep slopes formed by the normal faults that mark the edges of the basin:
The museum at Dinosaur State Park consists of a building erected over a bed of several hundred dinosaur tracks, a small portion of which are shown above. Several species of dinosaurs crossed back and forth over this area after the lake had receded (or had nearly receded); the tracks are superimposed on ripple marks that formed when water covered the area:
There is also a small but well-done display of other fossils found in the basin, all of which represent taxa known from Solite and other Triassic-Jurassic basins along the east coast. Here’s a nice example of the conifer Pagiophyllum:
We ended up spending several hours at the park (there are trails and gardens outside, as well as additional trackways). It’s well worth a visit if you’re in New England.
We’re planning to spend the next few days at Acadia National Park; I’ll be posting updates on the geology there whenever I’m able to do so.