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I run a Trail Store (sell hiking maps, swag, etc) in Mahwah, NJ, USA. I'm trying to feature a plant and rock every season. The first rock chosen is puddingstone.

I created the short sign below, mostly from Wikipedia. I followed it with a few questions. I'm hoping the feedback will improve the sign.


Puddingstone, also known as either pudding stone or plum-pudding stone, is a popular name applied to a conglomerate that consists of distinctly rounded pebbles whose colors contrast sharply with the color of the finer-grained, often sandy, matrix or cement surrounding them. The rounded pebbles and the sharp contrast in color gives this type of conglomerate the appearance of a raisin or Christmas pudding. There are four types of pudding stone: Hertfordshire, Schunemunk, Roxbury, and St. Joseph Island (Drummond Island) puddingstones. This example is Schunemunk puddingstone, which is exposed extensively on Bearfort Mountain, Boonton, Rockaway Township and Schunemunk Mountain. It is a conglomerate that is part of a 3,000 feet (910 m) thick geologic formation formally known as the Skunnemunk Conglomerate. It consists partly of grayish-red and gray sandstone, as well as grayish-red shale. Pebbles and cobbles of white vein quartz, red and green quarzite, red and gray chert, and red shale are also present. The grayish-purple to grayish-red conglomerate and sandstone is cemented largely by hematite (mined as the main ore of iron) and microcrystalline (visible only under a microscope) quartz.


  1. Of the specific rock formations mentioned (sandstone, shale, quartz, chert) - would it be better to leave some of these out if they represent a tinier percentage of the total conglomerate? Are there some other important crystal or rock formations that should be included?
  2. Should the following terms be defined - sandstone, shale, quartz, chert? Should the process of "cementing" in terms of the conglomerates (sandstone, shale, quartz, and chert) that get cemented - what happens to these components when they are cemented together? Should the chemical details of how hematite and microcrystalline actually accomplish the cementing be mentioned?
  3. Are there any broader environmental concerns that should be included (relation to fossil fuels, relation to important plants that need the puddingstone to thrive, relation to larger structures in its regions such as cliffs, valleys, rivers)?

Thank you,

Gary Willick

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it would be better to give less detail and more rock types that your hikers might see on their travels. Everyone knows what a matrix is. Same with plants:- more species, particularly the rarer ones. Some pictures of the birds,butterflies and animals they might see on their journey would make it more interesting. $\endgroup$ – Michael Walsby Jan 14 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ You describe the rock, but you don't interpret it in terms of processes. I think it should be interesting to add something about processes, and how they can be inferred from the description. For instance, why are the pebbles rounded? What does it tell us about the formation process of the rock? $\endgroup$ – Jean-Marie Prival Jan 14 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Jean-Marie. Processes are interesting. The sign is not being viewed by grade school children - people who choose to read it will understand it well enough providing it is expressed with clarity. What are some good sources to find out about geological processes as they pertain to puddingstone? $\endgroup$ – GaryW Jan 16 at 1:17

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