Thursday, September 22, 2022

Adirondack Geology on Paradox Lake

Adirondack Marble with folded Amphibolite and Calc-Silicate rock.

Text and photos provided by Stephen L., of Adirondack Aerial & Ground Imagery Showcase Page

While staying at the Paradox Lake State Campground in Paradox NY back in late July. I took a relaxing kayaking paddle on the second day there. It was a nice day and there was hardly any wind or current and not to hot either.
I decided to paddle across Dark Bay and skirt the shore line on the east side not far from the state campground boat launch. I have included a sketch of the path on Google Maps along with some pencil marks in case others would like to see this cool geological outcrop.
paradox lake

Kayak path from Paradox Lake State Campground beach to area of where the photos were taken.

While paddling along the shore line, I noticed some Karst topography. What is Karst topography you ask, well for those that have visited the Adirondack attraction at Pottersville NY, known as Natural Stone Bridges and Caves, you have seen it. Karst topography is formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. Adirondack Marble can also exhibit this type of chemical weathering known as carbonation.
So, what is this type of Adirondack Marble or also know geologically as Tectonic Marble Brecca?
Marble is a rock resulting from metamorphism of sedimentary carbonate rocks, most commonly limestone or dolomite rock. However, this type of marble somewhat differs. This Marble as described in my source link was a “tectonic grease” during Adirondack deformation as a result of mountain building called the Grenville Orogeny. Rocks that were once Limestone were heated and deformed under intense heat and pressure and then thrusted upwards to the Marbles we have today.
Adirondack Marble with folded Amphibolite and Calc-Silicate rock.

Adirondack Marble with folded Amphibolite and Calc-Silicate rock.

Large amounts of deformation (It refers to the process which affects the shape, size, or volume of an area of the crust of the earth. The type of deformation varies from the type of stress and type of rock found in a specific area of the crust of the earth) and shear stress (Shear stress is the stress component parallel to a given surface, such as a fault plane, that results from forces applied parallel to the surface or from remote forces transmitted through the surrounding rock.).
Layers in the Adirondack Marble, volcanic dykes and adjacent rock units were all disrupted and incorporated into this marble creating the unique shapes of amphibolite (a granular metamorphic rock consisting mainly of hornblende and plagioclase) and calc-silicates (A calc–silicate rock is a rock produced by metasomatic alteration of existing rocks in which calcium silicate minerals such as diopside and wollastonite are produced. Calc–silicate skarn or hornfels occur within impure limestone or dolomite strata adjacent to an intruding igneous rock).
Finishing up the kayak paddle with a photo of the sun lit Adirondacks.

Finishing up the kayak paddle with a photo of the sun lit Adirondacks.

This type of Marble I have also encountered in other areas of the Adirondacks including Pottersville, Newcomb and Eagle Lake (Ticonderoga NY).
Again, the location is Paradox Lake in Paradox NY (Severance NY Hamlet).

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

One Response

  1. Don Butler says:

    We also hiked Peaked Hill this summer and endured a similar experience. It was hot on the day we were there and it felt like doing a trailless high peak towards the end. Got to the summit all right but couldn’t find any views at all on top. Relied on an old Barbara McMartin guidebook that touted great vistas but realized that the trail guide was over 50 years old…a lot can change in half a century. The campground itself is small and quiet with a nice beach: no lifeguard but people swim anyway. Paddling Paradox Lake in the early morning is a quintessential Adirondack experience.
    I have been on field trips with Jim McCelland. It amazes what a geologist sees in outcrops that to the rest of us are ‘just rocks’. Jim has pushed our understanding of Adirondack geologic history way back into pre-Grenville times.

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