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Dredging more than two thousand feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a Harvard University expedition has succeeded in taking fossil-bearing rock in place on the cliffs of the North American continental shelf for the first time, and has discovered evidence which upsets existing ideas as to the long geologic period of stability and quiet which was supposed to have continued unbroken since the Palaeozoic age, 160,000,000 years ago.
The dredging was done on Georges Bank, about 120 miles east of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, under the direction of Henry C. Stetson, Research Associate in Palaeontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology. The dredging work will be continued this summer in the Hudson River submarine channel off New York Harbor and in the submarine valleys off the Maryland coast.
Fossils taken by the expedition from the sides of the Georges Bank valleys which extend more than a mile below sea level on the edge of the continental shelf, indicate that the last major crustal movement of the North Atlantic coast of America occurred since the Upper Cretaceous period, 105,000,000 years ago, and possibly since the Miocene age, 30,000,000 years ago.
The evidence uncovered seems to confirm the generally supported theory that the deep ocean valleys cutting into the continental shelf were formed by rivers which flowed into the Atlantic before the continental shelf sank belaw the sea.
These ocean valleys are now more than 6000 feet below sea level in their greatest depths on Georges Bank. An uplift sufficient to bring these valleys above present sea level implies Alpine heights for the highlands of New England and New York and a high plateau for the rest of this region. A cliff about 7000 feet high must have extended along the New England coast in those days.
Early mammals lived in New England then; the climate was much colder than now; and rivers and lakes were not in the present locations.
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