Multiple alluvial, colluvial, and eolian deposits in unglaciated northern New Jersey, and the eroded bedrock surfaces on which they rest, provide evidence of both long-term valley evolution driven by sustained eustatic baselevel lowering and short-term filling and excavation of valleys during glacial and interglacial climate cycles. The long-term changes occur over durations of 106 years, the short-term features evolve over durations of 104 to 105 years. Direct glacial effects, including blockage of valleys by glacial ice and sediment, and valley gradient reversals induced by crustal depression, are relatively sudden changes that account for several major Pleistocene drainage shifts. After deposition of the Beacon Hill fluvial gravel in the Late Miocene, lowering of sea level, perhaps in response to growth of the Antarctic ice sheet, led to almost complete dissection of the gravel. A suite of alluvial, colluvial, and eolian sediments was deposited in the dissected landscape. The fluvial Bridgeton Formation was deposited in the Raritan lowland, in the Amboy-Trenton lowland, and in the Delaware valley. Following southeastward diversion of the main Bridgeton river, perhaps during Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene glaciation, northeastward drainage was established on the inactive Bridgeton fluvial plain. About 30 to 45 m of entrenchment followed, forming narrow, incised valleys within which Late Pleistocene deposits rest. This entrenchment may have occurred in response to lowered sea level caused by growth of ice sheets in the northern hemisphere. Under periglacial conditions in the Middle and Late Pleistocene, valleys were partially filled with alluvium and colluvium. During interglacials slopes were stabilized by vegetation and the alluvial and colluvial valley-fill was excavated by gullying, bank erosion, and spring sapping. During Illinoian and late Wisconsinan glaciation, the lower Raritan River was diverted when glacial deposits blocked its valley, and the Delaware River was partially diverted down the isostatically-steepened lower Millstone valley. ?? 1993.
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Late Cenozoic surficial deposits and valley evolution of unglaciated northern New Jersey