Research Request

We're looking for geological sediments of Lake Hitchcock. The lake was one of the largest of the glacial lakes in New England. It stretched from New Britain, Connecticut, just south of Hartford, north to St. Johnsbury in northern Vermont, ca. 175 miles. The lake was the result of ice-stratified deposits at Rocky Hill, Connecticut that dammed the ice melt as the last glacier retreated northward. The inception of the lake in central Connecticut is placed at 15,600 yrs BP, with the initial breaching of the Rocky Hill dam 12,300-12,400 yrs BP and the final drainage of the lake soon after. The Connecticut River generally follows the course of Lake Hitchcock and, in many places, the river has eroded into and sometimes through the lake-bottom sediments. Diving in these portions of the river is, in many respects, like going back in time and exploring the bottom of Lake Hitchcock. The lake's sedimentary layers are known as varves, each is a couplet of a whitish-gray clay layer and a yellowish-brown silty/sandy layer; a couplet represents a single year, the silty/sand deposited in the summer during ice melt and the clay layer deposited in the winter when the lake was frozen.

Have You Seen Varves?

Photo 1: Varves in cross-section, note alternating clay and sandy layers; knife haft = 10cm
Photo 2: Clay surfaces of varves
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are interested in locating underwater varve sites in the Connecticut River and its tributaries. If you have seen anything that resembles these pictures, please contact Ed Klekowski. You will be acknowledged in scientific publications based upon research at your sites. You will even be asked to guide us to your site (free air refills next summer!).