Multimedia Model for the Utilization of Geoscience Educational Resources in

Multimedia Model for the Utilization of Geoscience Educational Resources in ABSTRACT

A model to encourage the utilization of geoscience educational resources within public nature-type parks is being developed in Harriman-Bear Mountain-Sterling Forest State Park, Hudson Highlands, New York using multimedia techniques. The model uses a videotape to pique peoples interest and encourages them to visit a web site which in turn encourages them to see the rocks in the field. The videotape was produced by combining footage shot in the park with footage of prime examples of geologic features and custom animations to create an entertaining yet informative presentation. The fast-paced video is designed to inspire interest and enthusiasm in the geology of the park. Interested people are encouraged to visit an interactive web site. It provides the scientific background to the features in a stepwise manner of increasing complexity from simple pictures to advanced geochemistry, isotope geochemistry and structural geology. This allows visitors to find their level of interest and comfort. There are suggested general and topical field trips and a form to apply for a group permit.

It is estimated that there will be a deficit of some 400,000 scientists and 275,000 engineers by the end of this decade (Holden, 1989). This crisis requires new approaches to instilling at least an appreciation for science if not a desire to pursue it as a career. It has been shown that hands-on experience with science provides a better and longer lasting impression on students (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Field experiences provide one of the strongest hands-on impacts in the geosciences (Frodeman, 1996; Slater et al., 1997). The problem is that the burgeoning populations and subsequent development of many of our urban areas, the increased traffic and speed limits of many of our highways (past road exposures) and the ever-increasing problems of liability have made it increasingly difficult to observe rocks in the field. An ongoing project to address this issue is to utilize the educational resources of nature-type public parks in urban-suburban areas. These resources are convenient, protected, and occur in an otherwise recreational setting. Therefore, not only are these other problems avoided but in addition, an educational experience observing rock exposures in a park would be associated with pleasant surroundings and pleasurable activities.

There is a major scientific research initiative on the rocks of the Rodinian cycle (Grenville province) within Harriman-Sterling Forest State Park (Palisades Interstate Park) in the western Hudson Highlands of New York. Many new insights are being added to the current body of geologic data (Gates, 1998a; Gates and Costa, 1998; Gates et al, 1999; Gates et al., 2001; Gates et alv 2003). These scientific resources are being packaged and delivered to the public in both informal and formal science educational products. Such approaches have been done in many more prominent national parks on more of an individual scale and to a smaller degree with freat success (Love et al., 1968, Kiefer, 1971, Hall-Beyer, 997). However, these parks are distant from population centers and generally cannot be accessed on a regular basis by students. This project designs a generic model to package and market the geoscience resources of parks in an urban setting on a large scale. To accomplish this, we produced an entertaining science videotape to inform the public and drum up interest and excitement. Interested people can then visit a web site to take a virtual geologic field trip of the park. Ultimately, they are encouraged to visit these rock exposures in a pleasurable recreational setting for the full scientific experience.


The Harriman-Bear Mountain-Sterling Forest State Park Complex is a 75,000 acre contiguous wilderness recreation area that comprises the largest part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. It is located about 30 miles northwest of New York City in the western Hudson Highlands of southeastern New York. The main area of the park was donated to New York State around 1900 by prominent families including Harriman, Rockefeller, and Perkins. Previously, it had been an extensive iron mining district for 150 years (Hotz, 1952) but the discovery of large deposits in Minnesota in the late 180Os rendered it uneconomic. New York State went to great lengths to restore this area which was an industrial environmental disaster at the time. Sterling Forest (17,000 acres) was added to the park in 1998 at a cost of $87 million from federal, state and local sources mainly for watershed protection in this environmentally sensitive area. The events of this acquisition gave the area a high public profile as it regularly appeared in the media.

It is estimated that the Park receives over 4.2 million visitors annually for recreational purposes. The New York metropolitan area around the Park has more than 15 million residents. Included in the visitors are significant numbers of people from racial and ethnic groups who are generally underrepresented in the sciences. The park maintains a Trailside Museum that concentrates on natural and historical resources (including a geology museum) that receives about 350,000 visitors per year. It maintains four satellite museums in the camping areas specifically for camping groups composed largely of minority and underprivileged children from urban settings.


The basic research in this area is driven by geologic field mapping. Topical studies include structure and tectonics of the two deformational events, and the origin and geochemistry of metavolcanic rocks, of granite sheets, and of several magnetite deposits. Ar/Ar thermochronology (laser and conventional) and U/Pb geochronology using the SHRIMP at the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa have also been performed (Gates et al., 2001).

This new research confirmed that the geologic setting was one of a magmatic are during the formation of most of the rocks. There were two distinct Rodinian (Grenvillian) events rather than the single event that was previously proposed (Gates, 1998; Gates et al., 1999). The first event formed large-scale recumbent fold nappes that were emplaced east to west across the area and appears to have been a Himalayan-type continental collision. A period of catazonal bimodai plutonism (granite and diorite) separates the two events (Gates et al., 1999; Gorring et al., 2001). The second event is dextral transpressional and formed a 35+ km-wide belt of anastomosing mylonite zones across the area (Gates, 1998; Gates et al, 1999; Valentino and Gates, 2001; Gates et al., 2004). This dextral strike-slip system appears to have resulted from escape tectonism and had offset on the order of 10Os to perhaps 1,000 km. Escape tectonism results when a colliding continent impinges upon another continent forcing lateral movement of landmasses away from the collision zone. Late in this second event, iron-rich fluids were mobilized and deposited magnetite in dilational fractures in the foundering dextral shear zones (Gates et al., 2001).

Ar/Ar thermochronology indicates slow uplift and cooling after about 925 Ma although some of the dextral faults were active as late as 875 Ma (Gates and Krol, 1998). SHRIMP analysis of zircons indicates a typical 1.2-1.3 Ga age for volcanism and accompanying sedimentation (Gates et al, 2001). The peak of the Himalayan-type orogeny occurred at about 1,010-1,050 Ma. The bimodai plutonism occurred almost immediately at about 1,004 Ma. A new find is detrital cores from metasediments with 2.05 Ga ages. These are the oldest ages in the central Appalachians and are more consistent with the TransAmazonian orogen of South America than any in the area. This evidence shows that South America was likely attached to Laurentia in this area and that the Hudson Highlands could be exotic (Gates et al., 2001).