Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region

Glaciers in Rhode Island and New England

Approximately 20,000 years ago the last ice age ended with the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. During the peak of the ice age over 5,000,000 square miles of North America where covered by the glacier. The geography of New England is a direct outcome of glacial retreat; the glacial retreat left New England several new land features such as Long Island, Cape Cod and various coastal ponds and estuaries. These glacial deposits are referred to as Moraines; there are several types of moraines. But the one you will be hunting for is an End Moraine. These moraines are formed at the edge of a retreating glacier when they left behind long narrow hills of glacial deposit. Another popular glacial feature is a Kettle. Kettles are crater like pits that are formed when massive house size chunks of a glacier fall off and melt a hole that typically resembles a tea kettle. Occasionally these holes either retain rainwater or become inundated by natural springs making these holes into kettle ponds or lakes.

geocache map

geocache map

In Rhode Island it is difficult to not find a landscape that has not been created by the Laurentide Ice sheet. Two of the biggest glacial features in the state are the Charlestown moraine which is approximately 15 miles long, and Block Island which is a Terminal Moraine created by a lobe of the glacier that extended out 20 miles past the current coastline. Before the last ice age the ocean spanning between Rhode Island and Block Island did not exist. The glacier was so massive that millions of tons of sea water had been retained by the glacier lowering the sea level over 60 meters in the New England Area.

Here is a short EarthCache quiz on glaciers

Each correct answer will reveal the geographic coordinate where you can find the specified feature.
The latitude and longitude is displayed in the degree/minute/second format.
For each EarthCache (geocache) point, the latitude is N=North (positive), and the longitude is W=West (negative).

1. What grows when it is cold, and shrinks when it is warm and can cover entire continents?

kudzu vine
The Blob (first seen in a 1958 science fiction film)

2. What is the name of the depressions created by glaciers?

pot holes

3. What is the name of Rhode Island's Terminal Moraine?

Rhode Island
Long Island
Block Island
Nantucket Island

Last updated: January 10, 2012