Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These five day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, eskers, kames, kettles, fossils, house-sized boulders and a meromictic lake, will leave you awe-struck! Each fascinating destination is perfect for celebrating Earth Science Week (October 14-20, 2018).

1. Chimney Bluffs

Geologic History: Chimney Bluffs State Park

The bluffs, rising 175 feet above Lake Ontario, are fragile drumlins, like all of the truncated drumlins along this section of shoreline. This area of New York State “contains one of the largest drumlin fields (12,000 km2) on the North America continent consisting of some 10,000 drumlins located between Lake Ontario in the north and the Finger Lakes.”


Learn more: Drumlins in Wayne CountyNew York State Geological Association 2000 Guidebook, page 116

2. Mendon Ponds

Rochester's Geologic History: Mendon Ponds Park Devils Bathtub

The Devil’s Bathtub is one of New York’s rare meromictic lakes. It’s so deep, and so protected by the geologic features around it, that the layers in the water do not mix, or “turn over”. In 1969, Mendon Ponds Park was named to the National Registry of Natural Landmarks due to its geologic history and presence of significant kames, eskers, and kettles.


Learn more: Glacial Geology of Mendon Ponds Park, Glacial Geology

3. Mount Hope Cemetery

Rochester's Geologic History: Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery

Take the Geology Tour and you’ll learn about ice age land-forms (kames, moraines, kettles), the type of stones that make up gravestones, mausoleums and the ground you’re standing on, and residents who influenced the sciences during their time above ground. You’ll learn to look for every minute detail as evidence in our big history!


Learn more: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Geology of Mount Hope Cemetery, Mount Hope Cemetery: The Landmark Society

4. Little Rock City

Western New York's Geographic History: Little Rock City in Rock City New York State Forest
Little Rock City in Rock City State Forest

“Little Rock City was not formed by glaciers, but through mountain building events known as orogenies. As sediment from surrounding areas was deposited over Rock City State Forest, the base for Little Rock City was formed. As hundreds of years passed, gravity erosion of the landscape began to separate non-resistant rock layers from those which were highly resistant, leaving us with the large boulders that are present today.”


Learn more: 4 Rock Cities Near Rochester, Cattaraugus County Geology Trail

5. Penn Dixie Fossil Park
and Nature Reserve

Western New York's Geographic History: Penn Dixie Fossil Park Nature Reserve
Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve

Visitors can find and collect 380 million year-old animal and plant fossils that once flourished in an ancient tropical sea that covered WNY. In 2011, The Geological Society of America ranked Penn Dixie as the No. 1 fossil park in the country.


Learn more: Penn Dixie Field Guide, They’ll never run out of fossils at Penn Dixie

Looking for more places to explore Rochester’s fascinating geologic history?

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Where are your favorite geo-interesting spots around Rochester?

Share with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


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