Norwich Geology Duo Explore Ancient Maine Supervolcano

Newsletter of the College of Science & Mathematics

Norwich Geology Duo Explore Ancient Maine Supervolcano

By David Westerman, PhD

Junior Geology major Chris Eddy ‘17 and Professor Chris Koteas attended a geological field conference on Isle au Haut, an island along the Maine coast, to study horizons of an ancient volcanic section last month. The trip was run by Megan Whitman, a Master’s in Geology candidate at the University of Massachusetts. Participants included students and faculty from the University of Maine and the University of Massachusetts, as well as professional geologists associated with the National Park Service and the Maine Geological Survey.

Despite the thick late summer fog, the exposures of complex volcanic tuffs and volcanic breccias were simply extraordinary. Accessed only by ferry or private boat, coastal exposures on Isle au Haut tower above the Gulf of Maine. Wave energy over thousands of years has sculpted the felsic volcanic deposits into fantastic cliffs, perfect for the study of volcanoes that once dominated the ancient margin of North America. Recognition of this ancient supervolcano was recently popularized by Dr. Sheila Seaman in a Livescience interview at GSA.