Buttermilk Falls State Park Geology Tour


Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: South Hill Elementary School

Point of Interest Details

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around!

Think the gorge was made by people? It was made by the earth!

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the tectonic plates moved. Africa collided with North America making cracks going North to South. Millions of years after that, Africa turned in a clockwise motion and collided with North America again making more cracks, this time east to west. This means that the joints are now visible close to a 90° angle like the corner of a rectangle. A perfect angle allows erosion to happen.

Erosion is when water, oxygen and other things wear something down. This gorge was eroded by a glacier 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. The glacier was made by global decreasing temperature, also know as the ice age. Imagine a huge sheet of ice weighing millions of tons moving across New York and digging out gorges and lakes.

The overlook is an area of stone where you can look up at smaller waterfalls and a flat area, look down at the rough, wavy and large waterfall, and look all around at trees, plants and the gorge. The overlook makes it feel like you are on the waterfall. You won’t feel the tectonic plates or see the glaciers, but you will see what’s left of them.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Buttermilk Falls State Park Geology Tour


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