505 to 438 mya
The Piedmont rock units in Delaware, and bedrock geologic map of Schenck et al. (2000) are revised in this report based on new rock geochemistry, geochronometric data, petrography, and recent detailed mapping. Major revisions include:
Petrography is a branch of geoscience focused on the description and classification of rocks, primarily by microscopic study of optical properties of minerals. A thin sliver of rock is cut from a sample, mounted on a glass slide, ground to approximately 30 microns (0.03mm), and viewed under a microscope that uses polarized light. By observing the colors produced as plain polarized light and crossed (90 degrees) polarized light shines through the minerals, petrologists can determine the minerals that comprise the sampled rock.
The Delaware Piedmont is but a small part of the Appalachian Mountain system that extends from Georgia to Newfoundland. This mountain system is the result of tectonic activity that took place during the Paleozoic era, between 543 and 245 million years ago. Since that time, the mountains have been continuously eroding, and their deep roots slowly rising in compensation as the overlying rocks are removed. It is surprising to find that although the Delaware Piedmont has passed through the whole series of tectonic events that formed the Appalachians, the mineralogy and structures preserved in Delaware were formed by the early event that occurred between 470 and 440 million years ago, called the Taconic orogeny.
In Delaware, predominantly an impure quartzite and garnet-sillimanite-biotite-microcline schist. Major minerals include microcline, quartz, and biotite with minor plagioclase, and garnet. Muscovite and sillimanite vary with metamorphic grade. Accessory minerals are iron-titanium oxides, zircon, sphene, and apatite. Microcline is an essential constituent of the quartzites and schists and serves to distinguish the Setters rocks from the plagioclase-rich schists and gneisses of the Wissahickon Formation.
In Delaware, predominantly a pure, coarsely crystalline, blue-white dolomite marble interlayered with calc-schist. Major minerals in the marble include calcite and dolomite with phlogopite, diopside, olivine, and graphite. Major minerals in the calc-schist are calcite with phlogopite, microcline, diopside, tremolite, quartz, plagioclase, scapolite, and clinozoisite. Pegmatites and pure kaolin deposits and quartz occur locally.
Massive fine-grained dark to light yellow-green serpentinite. Contacts with the Wissahickon Formation are not exposed.
Light-colored coarse-grained rocks composed of interlocking grains of light colored, fibrous amphiboles, most likely magnesium-rich cummingtonite and/or anthophyllite with possible clinochlor. These rocks become finer grained and darker as hornblende replaces some of the Mg-rich amphiboles. Associated with the metapyroxenites are coarse-grained metamorphosed gabbros composed of hornblende and plagioclase. The metapyroxenites and metagabbros are probably cumulates.
Interlayered psammitic and pelitic gneiss with amphibolite. Psammitic gneiss is a medium- to fine-grained biotite-plagioclase-quartz gneiss with or without small garnets. Contacts with pelitic gneiss are gradational. Pelitic gneiss is medium- to coarse-grained garnet-sillimanite-biotite-plagioclase-quartz gneiss. Unit has a streaked or flasered appearance owing to the segregation of garnet-sillimanite-biotite stringers that surround lenses of quartz and feldspar. Throughout, layers of fine to medium-grained amphibolite composed of plagioclase and hornblende, several inches to 30 feet thick or as large massive bodies, are in sharp contact with the psammitic and pelitic gneisses. An attempt has been made to show some of the amphibolites mappable at the scale of the map. Granitic pegmatite is ubiquitous and occurs at all scales. Pyroxene bearing quartzite with garnet occurs locally near the contact with the Wilmington Complex. An ultramafic lens composed of cumulus layers of serpentinized peridotite, metapyroxenite, and metagabbro occurs near Hoopes Reservoir. The ultramafic lens may be correlative with the Baltimore Mafic Complex.