I like to live with a sense of deep time. It provides context to our human existence on the planet in both space and time. For a decade, I tried to piece together the deep history of this region. Rock outcrops and bedrock I drilled into as part of my geology work, provided clues to the underlying makeup. Ultimately, the creation of this image, “Newark Basin”, provided the deeper history and sense of place that I sought.
This 3-mile deep “cut” extends from the Coastal Plain and Princeton to the east (right) 30-miles across the Newark Basin to the Highlands to the west (left) looking north.
The rocks visible in this image formed over a span of the last quarter of the Earth’s history. The rocks formed during the cycle of continents colliding to form a super continent then breaking apart to form an ocean, followed by the ocean closing as continents collided to form a super continent and finally breaking apart again to form the Atlantic Ocean. As the last super continent, Pangaea broke apart around 100 million years ago, cracks (faults) formed in the crust and crustal blocks dropped to form a rift basin named the Newark Basin. Over time, sediment was eroded from nearby highlands, transported via streams, and deposited in the basin.
Creation of this image began using a framework in the form of a cross section on the “Bedrock Geologic Map of Northern New Jersey” (Avery Ala Drake, Jr., et. al., 1993) constructed by Gregory Herman PhD. The cross section was enlarged 1.8 times in the vertical direction to better depict the nature of the basin features. The framework of the bottom half of this image does not exist in the cross section noted above and is my interpretation based on my geologic knowledge and research.
I visited dozens the outcrops to photograph specific rock types. I transferred these photographs to the computer and placed them in sequences that represent the underlying structure. I took photographs from an airplane to create the sequence of land surface regions resting above the bedrock.
I am indebted to Jim Peterson of Princeton Geoscience for commissioning this piece and to Gregory Herman PhD for offering critique at one phase in the construction of the image.