panther mountain geologic history

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panther mountain geologic history

New postby Jon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:04 pm

I noticed in the panther mountain section that there is a description of it being created by an impact of a meteorite.

http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/NorthAmerica.html

this is the "authority" on earth impact craters. There is no mention of Panther mountain.


panther mountain has not yet been scientifically proven to be an impact crater. I am writing a report about the topic and there is insufficient evidence, unaswered questions about a few major things.

I have been reading the literature and there are few peer-reviewed articles on the subject. One thing that is certain is there is no mention of shatter cones being found at panther. Shatter cones are formations in rock caused by meteroite impacts and in some nuclear weapon testing.

if panther was an impact crater shatter cones would be found. Also there is no published article that I can find in any journal article about the polymorph quartz or other shock metamorphic rocks being found at panther. There is a magazine article that wikipedia links to, but it obviously isn't good enough for the international impact database

I will try to investigate these things next time i'm there, but I wouldn't profess that it was definitely caused by impact when it could just as easily be an arete from the wisconsinan glaciation.
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Re: panther mountain geologic history

New postby mike » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:56 pm

I am not that knowledgeable about geology. But, it was my understanding that Panther Mtn rose up after the impact. Or at least, that is my understanding. Can't say how much evidence there is to prove the theory. The initial discovery was made by some geologist. If I remember correctly, there is some quartz down by the creek.
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Re: panther mountain geologic history

New postby Jon » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:26 am

You are correct. The geologist who thought up this theory was Yngvar Isachsen. He was given some of the first satellite imagery of New York state back in the 70's from NASA and was told to explain features. This is when he saw that Panther mountain forms an almost perfect circle. Isachsen is one of the most influential geologists that has ever worked for the state of NY. He drew most of the geologic maps, and wrote most of the books about the history of New York's rocks. I highly recommend "Geology of New York; A simplified Account" It was written by Isachsen and other prominent geologists and is pretty easy to understand.

Down by the Esopus he found that the bedrock was jointed, which are like cracks with no space inbetween, in a small pattern. Meaning that the rocks would break off in small 1ft by 1ft sections or smaller, as opposed to other places with the same type of bedrock that was jointed every 3 ft or so. He made the hypothesis that the river followed the smaller jointed rock, and the smaller jointed rock was the product of a meteorite hit.

The meteorite hit is estimated at around 375 million years ago. I don't know where they came up with this age from, I still haven't found anything about it yet. It is during the period when a majority of Catskill sediments were deposited. However it's not the cause of any mountains. The Catskills weren't formed like the Himalayan or Appalachian Mountains. The Catskills were not at the seam where two continents collided together. They were a little bit off to the side of a giant continental collision seam. So when the North American continent collided with continents that formed mountains the land where the Catskills was remained untouched, and not deformed. When those mountains started to erode, the sediments were washed down the east side of the range (to the Atlantic) and to the west side of the mountains. To the west was a large inland sea that covered most of the middle North America. This is where the deposits of the "Catskill delta" settled. This happened over the a few hundred million years. The Catskills were not formed in 1 "abrupt" event such as the Himalaya which were only formed 50 million years ago, and are Huge. The Catskills was a slow daily building. Layer after layer sediments were put down, and solidified into rock from pressure of sediments above.

If you wanted to equate the Catskills to a formation in present day, you could say that it's like Bangladesh, also called the "ganges delta". Bangladesh is mostly layered sediments from the Himalaya eroding away down the Ganges.

So after a few hundred million years of the Acadian mountains being eroded away, the last of the sediments were deposited there was one last continental collision. This was with Africa. However Africa didn't slam right into North America, it more of rotated counter clockwise into the continent. This caused some uplift and folding and deformation which is why the Appalachian mountains today have that distinctive counterclockwise "swirl" type formation. This is where some scientists think that the Catskill plateau was uplifted by this event. It's a possibility this caused the small dip to the west. This is very recent but still about 200 million years ago. They could have been uplifted by other means, but whatever it was didn't have enough force to deform the rocks. The layers are very well preserved and intact. After this the last super continent broke up, and the uplifted sediments of the Catskill plateau were eroded by water and glaciers until they are in the formation we are in today.

If the Catskills were underneath a giant mountain belt like the Appalachians were, then there would be folded and metamorphosed rock. (take a look at my website and look at the rocks in New Jersey). Most of the Catskill delta's layers are very horizontal. They are just at a slight angle tilting down toward the west. This is why a lot of the Catskill mountains are around the same elevation. The tops of them used to be one continuous surface, which was uplifted about 3700-4000 feet above sea level, turning the delta in the plateau. This is also why the plateau seems to disappear going from east to west. This is also why mountains which are flat on top are usually higher on the eastern section.

So Panther mountain didn't technically "grow" out of a blast of a crater. It's basically where the sediments were deposited inside the crater, and the most of the crater walls has eroded away. Kind of like cookie dough in a cookie mold and you remove the mold.

The quartz that you may have remembered reading about was not found by the Esopus. Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals present on earth. So finding quartz doesn't mean that there's an impact crater. What Isachsen did was look through drilling tilling that a gas company had. There was a gas company that tried to drill for natural gas in the east side of Panther. They saved a 10lb bag of rocks from each 10 feet of drilling. Isachsen went through them with graduate students looking for evidence of an impact. They found quartz which had it's crystal structure changed, or what they call Shock Metamorphosed quartz. This is very good evidence that there was an impact in the site. However he never published his work. He was doing this at 79 years old around 1999 and died at 81 in 2001 without ever submitting a paper to the scientific community. If he did have "proof" he never made it officially known.
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Re: panther mountain geologic history

New postby mike » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:29 am

Wow! Very informative. Too bad he didn't publish the paper before he died. Or, maybe he didn't have all the evidence he needed. Maybe someone else will take up the research and publish it.
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Re: panther mountain geologic history

New postby Jon » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:14 am

mike wrote:Wow! Very informative. Too bad he didn't publish the paper before he died. Or, maybe he didn't have all the evidence he needed. Maybe someone else will take up the research and publish it.


Well I have contacted the other Geologist who co-authored a lot of the papers. It turns out he still works at SUNY Potsdam. I told him I was doing a report on the mountain, and that his published articles were difficult to find online. He's sending me all the literature he has on the topic.

Problem with doing this type of research is that there isn't much economic benefit to proving it's a crater site or not. Some crater impact sites like Sundbury, Canada (2nd largest known on earth 250 km diameter) caused a giant hole to be gouged in the Earth's crust, and fresh magma spewed up making rich mineral deposits such as Nickel, platinum and gold. Most crater sites people are interested in because they are natural cap for fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil. Only one company ever drilled for gas on Panther and it was producing gas, but not enough to be economically viable so they shut the well down.

So unless a scientist can secure a grant from some research fund, pretty much volunteer work needs to be done to find proof. Even when the proof is found, you still need to be able to submit it to a peer reviewed journal, and be able to defend it, before the scientific community accepts it. Once it is proven and makes the "list" of confirmed impact sites, I'm sure that grants will be offered for further research.

It's kind of like a chicken and the egg type thing. No one will give you money to research unless you've got definitive evidence that it's a crater. The only "definitive" evidence is costly and expensive to find (drilling to 6000ft to obtain core-samples). So unless someone can find Shatter cones (99.99% proof of impact) by just strolling around in the woods, this will be a debatable topic for a while.
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