The bedrock of Russell is part of the eroded core of
an ancient chain of mountains that is approximately 400-500 million
years old, and extends from Long Island Sound through western
Massachusetts and Vermont into Quebec. There are three known geologic
formations in Russell: the Russell Formation, with light gray to dark
gray schists and phyllites (lustrous slatey rocks); the Wiats River
Formation, with dark gray schists and occasional thin beds of black
marble and feldspar; and the Williamsburg Granodiorite, with
crystalline granite-like intrusives containing coarse crystalline veins
Like almost all of New England, Russell was covered by great ice sheets
thousands of feet thick in the recent geologic past. The ice sheets
melted about 12,000 years ago, leaving extensive surface deposits that
cover most of the land and dominate the New England landscape.
The two basic types of deposit in Russell are lodgment till and
stratified drift. Lodgment till, which formed when glaciers overrode
and compressed the earth, is an unsorted mixture of sand, clay, pebbles
and boulders, no more than three feet thick. Stratified drift refers to
deposits of sand and gravel that formed during the final days of the
Ice Age. The melting ice sheets gave rise to torrential streams that
carried large loads of sand and gravel formerly trapped in ice. When
the velocity of the stream diminished upon entering a lake or flat
area, its load settled and formed deposits of sand and gravel.
The soils in Russell are dominated by three major types: Lyman soils,
which are loamy and shallow, and Marlow and Peru soils, which are loamy
and slowly permeable. All soil types existing in Russell present
limitations, many severe, to septic systems and building construction.
There are 208 acres of Prime or Significant Agricultural Soils in
Russell scattered in small pockets in valleys around town.