Week 3! Deep River’s connection with Africa

Jul 8, 2021 | News, Uncategorized

When you look at a world map, Deep River, Connecticut is nowhere near the continent of Africa. In fact, the two are separated by a large ocean. Your challenge this week is to find a piece of Africa within the boundaries of Deep River. 

I enlisted the help of experts this week. Chris Woodside and Geologist Janet Stone are both members of the Deep River Land Trust. Ms. Woodside is the author of an article published in the New York Times in 2010, entitled “Does a bit of Africa sit in Deep River?”   The answer is yes!

The Honey Hill Fault was identified many years ago, but geologists in 2001 discovered a visual outcropping of the fault line at Devitt Field. This is the rocky outcropping that runs along South Main Street, (RT 154). 

Here is an excerpt from Chris’s article……

The rock outcropping next to the town’s ball field marks the spot where two continents crashed together 250 million years ago. When the landmasses began to pull apart again, a hunk of what might have become Africa remained clinging to North America. Deep River is one of the few places where the “suture line” can be viewed.

For a long time, millions of years, in fact, the suture was not visible. Then, a few years ago, a Boy Scout troop and the Deep River Land Trust joined to dig a trench across the central part of the rock ledge, which is right along Route 154 at the entrance to Devitt Field. They removed several inches of dirt that had been deposited on top of most of the ridge during the last Ice Age about 18,000 years ago. When they were done, a band of rock lay exposed.

On the eastern side of the rock outcropping is land that was an island continent 500 million years ago. Geologists call it Avalonia and say it probably floated in a giant ocean south of what became North America and north of what became Africa. On the western side of the Deep River outcropping is the beginning of the rest of North America.

The meeting of Avalonia and North America, known as the Honey Hill Fault, runs in an arc from just west of the Deep River ball field, across the Connecticut River, northeast and then slightly southeast to the Ledyard area, and finally due north into Massachusetts.

All of the coastal towns from New Haven to Stonington are Avalonian land. About half of New London County is Avalonia. The entire Thames River, which flows from Norwich to New London, is within the Avalonian terrain.

African ivory is not the only connection our small town has in common with Africa.  Post your pictures. We will pull a lucky winner’s name each week for a gift certificate to use in town. This week’s winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate donated by Hally Jo’s Restaurant.

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