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.
William "Sandy" Schenck lead a field trip through the Delaware Piedmont for the A.I. duPont High School Earth Science Class. The trip made use of the Wilmington-Western Railroad and everyone rode the railroad's "Doodle Bug." Activities included up close examinations of rock and mineral features and even "Panning for Garnets" at Brandywine Springs Park.
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 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.
This report accompanies a new map that revises the original bedrock geologic maps of the Delaware Piedmont compiled by Woodruff and Thompson and published by the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) in 1972 and 1975. Combined detailed mapping, petrography, geochemistry, and U-Pb geochronology have allowed us to redefine two rock units and formally recognize eleven new units. A section of the Pennsylvania Piedmont is included on the new map to show the entire extent of the Mill Creek Nappe and the Arden Plutonic Supersuite.
The Generalized Geologic Map of Delaware is a brief summary for general use indicating the major types and locations of rocks present throughout the State, and their interrelationships. The map is preliminary as it is a first step in a continuing program of detailed geologic mapping. It is based upon many existing sources of data; additional detail may be found in the references listed.
Sinkholes are depressions in the land surface or holes in the ground caused by subsidence or collapse of surficial material into openings in soluble rock. Sinkholes usually develop in "karst" areas underlain by carbonate rocks. Karst is defined as "terrane with distinctive characteristics of relief and drainage arising primarily from a higher degree of rock solubility in natural waters than is found elsewhere" (Jennings, 1971, p.1). In addition to sinkholes, other features associated with karst are: caves, disappearing streams, and well-developed subsurface drainage systems.
The effect of rapid growth in the Hockessin and Pleasant Hill areas in northern Delaware has caused concern about possible declines in ground-water recharge to the underlying Cockeysville Formation. The Cockeysville is a major source of ground water (aquifer) in the Hockessin area from which about 1.5 million gallons of water per day is withdrawn for public water supply, even though it receives recharge over a relatively small area of 1.6 square miles. The Cockeysville in the Pleasant Hill area is currently used as a source at water supply for individual domestic users and one school.