Photograph of Taughannock Falls in Tompkins County, New York.

Here on Earth

The place where you are right now has a rich geological history that is recorded by the rocks beneath you and the fossils that they may contain. The rocks and fossils reveal the movements of continents and the evolution of new forms of life. This history helps to explain why the Earth looks like it does today. It also explains things like the distributions of natural resources, from rare minerals to rich soils for agriculture. Studying Earth's ancient climate also helps us to make sense of how the climate is changing today and how it will affect us where we live.

The goal of this part of the [email protected] project is to explain the Earth science of every region of the United States. We are beginning with coverage of the northeastern United States, focusing upon upstate New York and western Pennsylvania. This area, known as the “Inland Basin” for the shallow sea that once covered it, shares a geologic history that explains the rock layers and landforms we observe today. The Paleontological Research Institution, which brings you [email protected], is based in this region. More regions will be added regularly, so please check back soon.

Northeastern United States

The northeastern United States include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

The rock record of these states tells the story of the gradual building of the North American continent over the past billion years, from ancient collisions with volcanic islands to the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea to geologically recent glaciers that transformed the landscape.