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Abstract

Precambrian rocks of Adirondack Region were part of a global system of mountains whose formation approximately one billion years ago led to the assembly of a supercontinent called Rodinia. In New York State, the eroded remnants of these enormous mountains extend beneath the Paleozoic cover rocks on the edge of the Adirondack topographic dome to form the basement rocks of New York State and connect, through exposures in the Thousand Islands Region, to the bulk of the contiguous Grenville Province of the Canadian Shield. Similar rocks are exposed in basement windows along the spine of the much younger Appalachian Mountains and can be traced into Mexico and beyond. Like other areas in the Grenville Province, the High Peaks region of New York is underlain by a large intrusive body of massif anorthosite, a rock composed of exceptionally large crystals of plagioclase feldspar. Rocks in the Adirondacks range in age from approximately 1350 to 1000 million years old and record as many as three or four tectonic events which were part of the Grenville Orogenic Cycle. The net results of these events were high-grade metamorphism, strong deformation, and the widespread overprinting of original relationships and primary textural features. Younger Paleozoic rocks include Cambrian and Ordovician sandstones, limestones, and shales deposited on the eroded metamorphic and igneous basement. These sedimentary rocks are found in fault-bounded outliers within the Adirondack massif and around the Adirondack margins.

The current topography of the Adirondacks is related to doming which began about 180 million years ago, when the Atlantic Ocean opened; although the reason(s) for this doming remain to be fully elucidated. Doming has stripped away the younger Paleozoic rocks and exposed the roots of the mountains, which at one time were deformed and metamorphosed deep in the crust.

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