Another interesting place where the geology of Connecticut meets the Ecology course is in the movement of calcium atoms from tiny marine organisms 300-500 million years ago to this teacher talking or a student playing volleyball at the annual school picnic.
Absolutely essential for any muscle contraction is the presence of calcium ions attached to the thin fibers of the muscle. The calcium must come from foods. Some of the calcium the students get comes from the green leafy vegetables in the Nature Center garden, kale, turnip greens, lamb’s quarters and others. Some of the calcium the teacher gets comes from milk from the cow which grazes in Oxford. Both the garden and the pasture have had ground dolomite limestone applied in order to supply calcium and magnesium as well as to raise the pH or acid-alkaline level to near neutral. The limestone is ground up marble which is mined in or near Canaan, in northwestern Connecticut.
In the early paleozoic era, starting about 570 million years ago, there was an ocean between two land masses which would eventually become North America and Africa. The edge of that ocean was in the area which is now Western Connecticut, although at the time it probably was the southern edge of the continent and was in the tropics. Under these conditions, diverse shell-secreting and other organisms thrived in the warm shallow water and over 80-100 million years built up a great carbonate bank from their remains. This thick layer of calcium containing deposits was sandwiched between a layer of sand and mud on the bottom which was eroded off the land to the (present day) west and a layer of mud and sand which washed in from the (present day) east as mountains were raised up in the ocean on that side.
This entire sandwich may have subsided much more, and then, through processes of temperature and pressure, the limestone sedimentary rock was turned into metamorphic marble which is found in the Housatonic Valley from Canaan to New Milford.
The long journey through time and space of calcium atoms, from tiny living creatures to sedimentary rocks to metamorphic rock, mined and powdered by humans and moved and applied to the soil where, with the help of soil microorganisms, they are taken up by plants and eaten directly by people or eaten by cows who pass it on to people in their milk shows that materials on earth are always recycled. We have only the atoms which have always been here.