Mountain mystery solved

Mountain mystery solved

Layout 1Your bewilderment over why the relatively straight Appalachian mountain chain takes an odd turn at Pennsylvania and New York can come to a blessed end.

Associate Professor of Physics Maggie Benoit and colleagues cracked the secret—with a little assistance from the National Science Foundation.

Using data from the NSF’s EarthScope USArray seismic network, the researcher discovered a dense block of volcanic rock beneath the bend that forced the Appalachians to curve during formation hundreds of millions of years ago.

Now Benoit, a 1999 TCNJ graduate who’s been on loan to the NSF in Arlington, Virginia, for the last two years, wants to tackle the mystery of why the Appalachians still exist at all when she returns to campus this fall.

“They are very, very old mountains that should have eroded flat a long time ago, but they haven’t,” says Benoit. “We’re trying to look at why they’re there and what’s holding them up.”

—Meeri N. Kim

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