2019 Field Trips


Friday, October 4th


  • Evening Open House - HWS Richard S. Perkin Observatory
    Hobart & William Smith Colleges (HWS) operates a 0.4m (17 inch) corrected Dall-Kirkham reflector telescope housed in the Perkin facility. The Richard S. Perkin Observatory will be open for stargazing both Friday and Saturday nights (weather-permitting). Likely targets include Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune, as well as excellent views of the moon. We could also investigate globular clusters and double stars.

Saturday, October 5th


  • Trip 1 - Deglaciation of the Cayuga Basin: A revised paradigm - Dan Karig 
    The glacial history of the Cayuga Basin has yet to be completely understood and has recently become controversial. For the last glacial stage, this is a story of ice retreating from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) into the Ontario basin, re-advancing to the Valley Heads moraine and then retreating again, leading to a series of proglacial lakes trapped between the ice front on the north and higher topography to the south. With the assumption that the ice sheet was an impermeable barrier to flow northward and the dearth of chronologic control, this model was logical, given that the simplest model that fits the available data is to be preferred. Research over the past decade or so has generated data that requires the modification of this paradigm, in some cases significantly. The most radical modification is northward subglacial drainage during the Mackinaw Interstade, requiring the rejection of the existence of the large proglacial lakes Ithaca, Newberry and Hall in the Cayuga Trough (Karig and Miller, 2017; submitted). Other different interpretations are the nature of the Valley Heads re-advance and the extent of ice retreat during the Erie Interstade. These modifications were largely due to the availability of Lidar imagery, scientific drilling, and seismic profiling, but also to field studies that relied more on pitting and coring than had earlier studies. This paper reviews as much of the glacial history of the Cayuga basin as is available but is largely devoted to the history since the LGM because this advance overrode and largely destroyed the evidence of earlier glaciations. (20 ppl max - 12 passenger van plus up to 3 cars) 
  • Trip 2 - Paleoecology and taphonomy of eurypterid-bearing horizons in the Finger Lakes region - Stephen Mayer
    The Upper Silurian Bertie Group in western and central New York State is famous for its eurypterid (Arthropoda: Chelicerata) Lagerstätten. From the earliest recognition of the genus Eurypterus by American zoologist James Ellsworth Dekay (1825), studies have concentrated on eurypterid growth and variation (see Andrews et al., 1974; Cuggy, 1994). More recent works have focused on ecdysis (Tetlie et al., 2008), and mating (Braddy, 2001; Vrazo and Braddy, 2011), as well as trace fossils and taphonomy (Vrazo et al., 2014, 2016, 2017, and Vrazo and Ciurca, 2018). Recurrent taphonomic patterns are recognized regardless of species with various hypotheses proposed to explain these occurrences. The purpose of this investigation is to provide an overview of the preservation patterns observed in the fossil record. The contortion of Eurypterus remipes and Erieopterus microphthalmus exuviae collected from different Finger Lake sites, as well as specimens held in the Samuel J. Ciurca Eurypterid Collection at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History are interpreted to be the result of flexure of eurypterid exoskeletons by submarine paleocurrents. The present contribution and accompanying field guide review the facies and geological settings of the Bertie Group with an emphasis on eurypterid-bearing horizons in west central New York as well as a discussion of specific aspects of the preservation of these fossils. (7 vehicles max - van  plus 5 cars)
  • Trip 3 - Hobart William Smith (HWS) Seneca Lake Research Excursion -  John Halfman and Dave Finkelstein
    Seneca Lake provides an ideal laboratory for investigating the complex biological, geochemical, and geological factors that determine lake character. HWS’ active research program on Seneca and in the surrounding Finger Lakes has created a hotspot of research and outreach about the unique character and value of all the Finger Lakes. The Colleges’ 65-foot research vessel, The William Scandling, with its impressive suite of research capabilities, provides an ideal platform for teaching and research needs. On this excursion, we will likely investigate surface sediment samples for the presence of zebra and quagga mussels, note their lake floor distributions and discuss their effects on the lake’s ecosystem, including their impact on the recent rise in blue green algae blooms.  Alternatively, we may investigate the lake’s hydrogeochemistry and analyze water samples for chloride concentrations in the lake, streams that empty into the lake and discuss the implications on the lake’s chloride hydrogeochemical budget. Trip runs both in AM and PM (15 people max each trip)
  • Trip 4 - Ecology and Geomorphology of Zurich Bog - Nan Crystal Arens 
    Zurich Bog is a 490-acre preserve featuring a sphagnum bog, quaking bog and drumlin highland that captures the post-glacial landscape history of western New York. This field trip features an up-close look at the bog’s ephemeral ecology, the historic Eastern Hemlock stand and a trip onto one of the region’s largest quaking bogs (1/2 Day). (15 people max)
  • Trip 5 - Return to Tully Valley: Continuing Environmental Impacts of Natural- and Anthropogenic-Induced Change - William M. Kappel 
    The Tully Valley is the southern extent of the greater Onondaga Trough valley of central New York. A large amount of research in the valley focused on the influence of mudboil (mud volcano) discharges on the quality and ecology of Onondaga Creek. Very active land-surface subsidence features also are present, related to: 1) mudboils, 2) landslides in the Tully Valley, most recently in 1993, and reoccurring within two major tributary valleys – Rainbow Creek on the east side of the Tully Valley and Rattlesnake Creek (Fall Creek) on the west side, and 3) brine mining in the southern extent of the valley along its lower east and west valley walls from the 1890's through the 1980's. Removal of halite beds 1,200 to 1,400 feet below land surface has resulted in induced land-surface subsidence within these two areas. The relationship between the brine-mining-induced subsidence and changes in mudboil activity noted in the 1950's concerns the Onondaga Nation and local, State, and other water-resource agencies.  The reduction of mudboil activity is the ultimate goal—to reduce the discharge of sediment-laden and increasingly-salty water to Onondaga Creek which affects the ecology of the Creek from the active mudboil area down to Onondaga Lake at Syracuse.
  • Evening Banquet will feature KeyNote Speaker Dan Budman, Hobart graduate and local winemaker.
  • Evening Open House - HWS Richard S. Perkin Observatory (same as Friday evening)


Sunday, October 6th


  • Morning Guided Tour - The Paleontological Research Institute (PRI) & Taughannock Falls - Rob Ross
    The PRI Museum of the Earth has agreed to host a tour through their collections and exhibits, then lead the group on a walk through Taughannock Falls (1/2 Day).