From Below Taughannock Falls

January 07, 2004


Provided and copyright by: Michael Breed, Chenango Valley High School
Summary authors & editors: Michael Breed

Taughannock Falls formed as the glacial ice that filled the Cayuga Lake trough retreated near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Since that time, the falls have sapped their way upstream for approximately one mile from Taughannock Creek's delta at the shores of Cayuga Lake, one of New York State's Finger Lakes. The process formed a gorge over 400 feet (122 meters) deep and is the site of Taughannock Falls State Park.

The gorge offers great examples of geologic sights such as extensive solution pitting of the Tully limestone of the creek bed, evidence of the Firtree Anticline, and great examples of both mechanical and chemical weathering of bedrock. The falls themself are in a large amphitheater and drop 215 feet (66 meters) as they pour over the Sherburne sandstone that forms the caprock of the falls. This is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

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