Bedrock Map

Below you may download the most current version of the bedrock geologic map of the Middlesex Fells, an explanation of the map, and an explanation chart of the map units. This project is ongoing research by me, Prof. Jack Ridge in the Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts. For more about me go to: http://eos.tufts.edu/people/ridge.htm.
Please be aware that the map and its explanation are ongoing research that will be updated periodically as new information is obtained or as interpretations change. This is truly a work in progress.

If you decide to use information on the geologic map please reference it as follows with the date the web site was accessed:
Ridge, J.C., 2020 in progress, The Bedrock Geology of the Middlesex Fells Reservation (version: May 17, 2020): Map (scale: 1:4600) and explanation (109 p.) http://sites.tufts.edu/fellsgeology/

Any comments or suggestions that you would like to send to the author can be sent to Jack Ridge at : jack.ridge@tufts.edu. I welcome feedback and questions.

Most recent update posting: May 17, 2020

Downloads of bedrock geologic map, map explanations, and a guide to volcanic rocks of the Fells:
Bedrock map: Link to: FellsbedrockMay17-2020.pdf
Full map explanation: Link to: FellsGeologyFullExplanationDec4-2019.pdf
Poster of map explanation: Link to: FellsGeologyPosterExplanationDec4-2019
Map explanation chart: Link to: FellsGeologyExplanationChartDec4-2019.pdf
Volcanic Features of the Middlesex Fells: Link to: FellsVolcanicRockFeatures.pdf

Information about the map and other downloads:
       Why a new map? The bedrock map of the Fells is an out growth of my interest in the geology of the Middlesex Fells that was acquired during many hikes in the area. It is a research project that started as a way of satisfying my curiosity for what I was seeing along the many trails in the Fells. Although there are abundant rock exposures (outcrops) in the Fells the rocks are not easy to diagnose. Rock types are not obvious or easy to determine and there are no fossils. Published geologic maps did not satisfy me and after viewing the rocks and the existing maps it became clear that the Fells had a much different and more detailed story to tell, one that was more interesting than I had imagined. The Fells was just begging for an accurate and detailed geologic map.

Modern Mapping Tools: Mapping in the Fells has been done in much more detail than is normal for geologic maps. Mapping in the field was at a scale of about 1:500 and the map, when printed at 100%, is compiled at 1:4600. (This is just the largest scale that will fit the east-west dimensions of the map on a 44-inch plotter.) Most geologic maps in the U.S. are published at 1:24,000. I felt that the geology had much more to offer at a large scale, and with modern GPS (Global Positioning System) and GIS (Geographic Information System) technologies and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) imagery, this is all possible. The beginning pages of the full map explanation (link above) will give you all the information you need on how the area was mapped, especially if you are a GIS nerd. For his patience in guiding me through the mine field of GIS, my former colleague at Tufts, Jacob Benner (now at Univ. Tennessee, Knoxville), has my everlasting gratitude.

A Map in Progress: I am constantly refining the map and some interpretations are likely to be revised as I get a chance to view more thin sections (microscope slides of rocks) and get numerical age data. For the most part, however, the most important field relationships seem to be worked out. Mapping that still remains to be done is of the islands in the Winchester Reservoirs.

Sialic Volcanic Rocks: In making a geologic map of the  Middlesex Fells, one of the most challenging things to get a handle on in the field is the exact character of fine-grained sialic igneous rocks. Determining whether they are volcanic (formed as ash, other pyroclastic deposits, or lava flows) or are shallow plutonic (sub-volcanic) bodies can be difficult. Many of these determinations must be made in thin sections. I have included for download above a compendium of volcanic rock textures and structures that I have used to identify volcanic rock types in the Fells with features seen in hand specimens and thin sections. This will give you information on what I mean, when I describe a rock formation a certain way.

Differences from previous maps: In many places on my map, formations that appear on old geologic maps have been split and renamed. The last geologic map of any detail was a preliminary map by Clifford Kaye of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1980 (Kaye, C.A., 1980, Bedrock geologic map of the Boston North, Boston South, and Newton Quadrangles: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Investigation Map MF-1241, scale 1:24,000). The new map, with its new formation designations and subdivisions, takes issue with the lumping of many rock formations on previous maps, where subvolcanic and volcanic rocks were grouped together and in many areas the formation of hornfels was not considered. Be aware that my new formation designations and mapping has not yet been reviewed. This will eventually happen, but this is a work in progress. A weakness of this map so far is that the exact numerical ages of many of the rock formations are not precisely known by modern standards and have not been determined directly so that they do not provide a test of many of my interpretations. There are some new ages obtained by Martin Ross and by Francis Macdonald (UC Santa Barbara, formerly at Harvard) and his former student at Harvard, Rachel Hamilton, that are incorporated into the map. Ages given in the explanation are sometimes based on the ages of what are thought to be similar units in the Boston area, where there is better age control. Many papers on Boston area geology published in the last 25 years, especially those of Meg Thompson, (professor emeritus, Wellesley College), have been very helpful and provide the basis for some numerical ages and time periods inferred on the map. The author currently has some age determinations in the works that should be complete in the next year.

Acknowledgments: Mapping in the Middlesex Fells immerses one in mostly igneous and metamorphic rocks. I freely admit that igneous and metamorphic petrology and the field mapping of these rocks is not the primary area of my training, which is in glacial and Quaternary geology, general geologic field mapping, and paleomagnetism. In a short period of time, since about 2010, I have had a rapid education in local geology that would not have been possible without many discussions and field excursions that have not been without arguments, disagreements and agreements with some geologic friends. They have all provided very helpful insights from other field areas. Some of them have a memory of past geologists, past field conference trips, and field experience in the Fells, and they all have a ton of unpublished information. I am very much in debt for the many discussions and field trips I have had with Bert Reuss (emeritus prof., Tufts Univ.), Lindley Hanson (emeritus prof., Salem State Univ.), Francis Macdonald (formerly Harvard, now professor at the Univ. California at Santa Barbara), Meg Thompson (emeritus prof., Wellesley College), Richard Bailey (professor, Northeastern University), and Martin Ross (professor, Northeastern University). They have been very encouraging and patient. I would also like to thank the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Tufts University for its support on this project. I especially thank Jacob Benner (Univ. Tennessee, Knoxville) for helping me repeatedly with using a Geographic Information System (GIS).

Enjoy the Middlesex Fells and enjoy the Fells map!
Jack Ridge