From Mountains to Sand: Bedrock Weathering and Rockfall at Cannon Cliff

Presented as part of our 2023 An Enduring Presence: The Old Man of the Mountain Event Series. This event is supported by a grant from New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grants.

In Franconia Notch, the imposing Cannon Cliff looms over a massive heap of rock debris, ranging from pebbles to boulders, creating the largest talus slope in the Eastern US. This slope has been formed by the efficient weathering of bedrock and frequent rockfalls, including the 2003 collapse of The Old Man of the Mountain. Investigating the factors that contribute to the rapid erosion of Cannon Cliff is crucial, as it has implications that extend beyond Franconia Notch. Bedrock weathering plays a significant role in landscape evolution, affects the carbon cycle, degrades infrastructure, and poses a risk of erosional hazards. In this presentation, Matthew will discuss his research on the environmental conditions of Cannon Cliff and key factors that contribute to rockfall.

Matthew Maclay is a graduate student in the Earth Sciences department at Dartmouth College, studying mechanisms of bedrock weathering, erosion, and rockfall. Originally from the drift-less area of southwest Wisconsin, Matthew completed his undergraduate degree in Physics and Astronomy at Carleton College in Minnesota. Before joining Dartmouth, he spent three years in Baltimore, working on the scientific operations of the Hubble Space Telescope and contributing to cutting-edge optics and astronomy research. Matthew’s passion for exploring and understanding the natural world extends to his free time activities, which include hiking, biking, and skiing. In his talk, he will delve into the natural processes driving rockfall and erosion at Cannon Cliff.

This is a hybrid event. Registration for Zoom is required. Please register here. 

Event Details


Thursday, July 20, 2023 7:00pm


Museum of the White Mountains
34 Highland Street
Plymouth NH 03264

Hosted By:

Museum of the White Mountains

Contact Info:

Museum of the White Mountains,