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Field Trips

Special Event Just Added!
"North Shore Connector"
Tue., March 22, 3-5 p.m.
Cost: Free.
Visit the soon-to-be-open subway tunnel connection with the North Shore of Pittsburgh.
[ complete details ]

All fieldtrips begin and end at the Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh.


  1. Late Devonian Paleontology and Paleoenvironments at Red Hill and Other Fossil Sites in the Catskill Formation of North-Central Pennsylvania.
    Two-day trip. Fri.–Sat., 18–19 March. Departs 8 a.m. Fri.; returns 5 p.m. Sat.
    Cost: US$250. Max.: 22.
    Ted Daeschler, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia;
    Walt Cressler, West Chester Univ. of Pennsylvania.
    Purpose: This field trip will visit sites of fossil discoveries from the Upper Devonian Catskill Formation in north-central Pennsylvania. The Catskill Delta Complex grades upward from nearshore marine facies through transitional facies and into delta plain and alluvial plain depositional settings. Our paleontological studies have focused on facies near the top of the Catskill Formation. As recorded in the rocks that we will observe on this fieldtrip, the Late Devonian Period was a time of major transitions in flora, fauna, and the geobiological system. By the Late Devonian, forests were widespread within seasonally well-watered depositional basins. The spread of plants on land, typified by the remains of Archaeopteris material from the Catskill Formation, set the stage for the radiation of animals in both the freshwater and terrestrial settings. Large fossil bivalves of the genus Archanodon are recorded throughout the Catskill Formation. Terrestrial arthropods including millipedes, scorpions, and arachnids also occur. Indeed, it appears as though the increased contribution of organic detritus by land plants into terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems during this time provided the primary productivity for increasingly complex and diverse ecosystems. We will review and sample the diverse vertebrate assemblage, including placoderms, acanthodians, chondrichthyans, actinopterygians, and a wide range of sarcopterygians including at least three species of tetrapods. The latter are known exclusively from the Red Hill site.
  2. An Introduction to Structures and Stratigraphy in the Proximal Portion of the Middle Devion Marcellus and Burket/Geneseo Black Shales in the Central Appalachian Valley and Ridge.
    Two-day trip. Fri.–Sat., 18–19 March. Departs 7 a.m. Fri.; returns 6 p.m. Sat.
    Cost: US$245. Max.: 40.
    Terry Engelder; Rudy Slingerland;
    Dan Kohl; Mike Arthur, Penn State.
    Purpose: To examine the internal stratigraphy of the Marcellus Formation including regional facies changes. Facies shifts in the proximal to medial portions of the basin are due to eustatic sea level fluctuations. Chronostratigraphic surfaces defined using sequence stratigraphic principles demonstrate that much of the Marcellus Formation is genetically related to the overlying, less organic-rich, more proximal facies of the Mahantango Fm. Genetically related facies between chronostratigraphic surfaces indicate a primarily clastic eastern depocenter with carbonates dominating the flexural forebulge in western Pennsylvania.  The overprint of mesoscopic structures on the Marcellus and Mahantango during the Alleghanian Orogeny indicates a strain that leads to vertical jointing in the Marcellus. Regional structural changes in the Marcellus are consistent with distance from the Allegheny Front. Both regional stratigraphic and structural variations will be examined using outcrops, core (through a visit to the Penn State - ABBSG core lab), and electric logs.
  3. Appalachian Pennsylvanian Climate Events and Their Congruent Biotic Responses.
    Sat., 19 March; 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Cost: US$110. Max.: 22.
    David K. Brezinski, Maryland Geol. Survey and Carnegie Museum of Natural History;
    Albert D. Kollar, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
    Purpose: This field trip will examine Pennsylvanian rocks of the central Appalachian Basin and discuss evidence for three scales of climate change as well as the effect these changes had on the biota. The trip begins with a stop in the Pottsville and Allegheny formations in rocks formed during an Early Pennsylvanian wet climate. The second stop will concentrate on the Upper Freeport Coal and the beginning of climatic drying. The trip continues with a stop in the middle Conemaugh Group where red paleosols and thin marine limestones suggest a shift to a drier climate. A return to the humid conditions is the subject of the next stop, where the Late Pennsylvanian Monongahela Group exhibits cyclothems that alternate wet coal and drier lake cycles. The final stop in the lower Permian, Dunkard Group and an increase in evidence of a return to drier climatic conditions.
  4. Western Pennsylvania Landslides.
    Sat., 19 March, 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Cost: US$100. Max.: 21. Richard Gray, DiGioia, Gray & Associates LLC;
    William R. Adams, Jr., Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation;
    James Hamel, Hamel Geotechnical Consultants.
    Purpose: This field trip will provide an excellent overview of landslides in the Pittsburgh Region, which has long been recognized as one of major landslide activity. This landslide activity results directly from the geology and history of the region. Flat-lying interbedded strong and weak sedimentary strata have been acted upon by erosion, stress relief, weathering, and mass wasting processes to produce colluvial masses of marginally stable rock and soil on many of the steep hillsides common to the region. Man’s activities over the past 250 years have exacerbated landslide problems at many locations. These activities have included excavation, fill placement, and surface and subsurface drainage changes related to commercial, industrial, and residential development; transportation; and coal mining. Stops within this field trip include Mt. Washington for a general orientation on local geology and to discuss landsliding on the slope below; an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh were we will see several small to medium sized landslides in colluvium and fill; and stops along I-79 to observe numerous, colluvial landslide features along with a hike up an ancient rockslide to see open stress relief joints in massive sandstone, large sandstone slump blocks, and a graben-like separation at the rear of a rockslide mass.
  5. Glacial Geology of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
    Sat., 19 March, 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Cost: US$95. Max.: 44.
    Gary Fleeger, Pennsylvania Geol. Survey;
    John Szabo, Univ. of Akron; Eric Straffin, Edinboro Univ. of Pennsylvania;
    Todd Grote, Eastern Michigan Univ.
    Purpose: This field trip will provide an overview of the glacial geology of northwestern Pennsylvania. We will visit a variety of geomorphic, stratigraphic, and sedimentologic sites. Participants we see a very complete esker-kame delta geomorphic complex and the internal composition of the delta. Near the glacial terminus, we will see the effects of lake drainage and associated drainage changes. Also, the problem of the multiple Titusville Till sheets of White et al (1969) will be studied at an exposure that contains all 5 sheets. Younger tills and the geologic history of the area around Conneaut Lake, the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania (938 acres) will be the afternoon stops. The final stop will discuss Holocene history of northwestern Pennsylvania.
  6. History and Geology of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, Blair and Cambria Counties, Pennsylvania.
    Trip Canceled
  7. From Fort Pitt to the Golden Triangle: Geological and Historical Aspects of Downtown Pittsburgh and its Environs.
    Trip Canceled

During the Meeting

  1. Building Pittsburgh—A Walking Tour of Pittsburgh's Building Stones.
    Mon., 21 March, 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Cost: US$20. Max.: 24.
    Judy Neelan, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection;
    C.H. Shultz, Slippery Rock Univ. (emeritus).
    Purpose: Share in the colorful history of Pittsburgh by joining us for a downtown walking tour of some of Pittsburgh's most beautiful buildings. Discover the history and architecture of the buildings through the eyes of earlier writers. Then discover the building stones through the eyes of a petrologist and the stone merchants who market them. Learn the process by which the building stones are identified and how we know where they are quarried. Add to this a little "made in Pittsburgh" movie drama and a brand new rendering of the "Building Pittsburgh" document which is included in the price of the trip.


  1. The Old, the Crude, and the Muddy: Oil History in Western Pennsylvania.
    Trip Canceled
  2. Early Industrial Geology of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio: Early Grist Mills and Iron Furnaces West of the Alleghenies and Their Geologic Contexts.
    Wed., 23 March, 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Cost: US$65. Max.: 9.
    Joe Hannibal, Cleveland Museum of Natural History;
    Tammie L. Gerke, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, Indiana Univ.;
    Harry M. Edenborn, National Energy Technology Lab;
    Mary K. McGuire, Univ. of Pittsburgh.
    Purpose: This trip will explore the early nineteenth-century industrial geology of western Pennsylvania and easternmost Ohio. Highlights of the trip will include a visit to Lanterman’s Mill in Youngstown, Ohio, and at least one of the early iron furnaces west of the Alleghenies. Discussions will cover stone used for millstones, local iron ore, slag produced by the furnaces, and Pennsylvanian stratigraphy related to early industries in the area. Some of the sites are very near parking areas, but one may require a one-mile hike alongside a stream with a few water crossings (you may get your feet wet). Hiking boots are recommended. Because of the historic nature of this trip and the beautiful settings, accompanying non-geologists may find this trip to be of interest.
  3. Building Pittsburgh—A Walking Tour of Pittsburgh's Building Stones.
    Trip Canceled


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