Excavations through surficial deposits across the New Jersey Coastal Plain commonly reveal homogenized surficial sediments, deformed sedimentary structures, chaotically rearranged bed-forms, and wedge-shaped cracks filled with sand from the top-most layers of extant soil profiles. As a whole, these abundant, broadly distributed phenomena are best explained as artifacts of an era of frozen ground during the last Pleistocene glacial maximum. Vigorous freeze-thaw processes and abundant seasonal rainfall created a landscape of low relief covered by highly mobile surficial deposits. The surficial deposits are at grade into broad, flat bottomed valleys now drained by small, tightly meandering, under-fit streams. Modern fluvial, aeolian, and slope processes are ineffectual in either creating or modifying these landscapes.
One particularly brief exposure of complex slope deposits was documented at Haines Corner, Camden County, during the field work (1986) for the Surficial Geologic Map of southern and central New Jersey. The exposure, now presented and interpreted here, provides previously unavailable details of a system of freeze-thaw driven processes that unfolded upon a frozen, impermeable substrate 80 miles south of the southern margin of the Wisconsinan glacial advance to Long Island, N.Y. At the time of these extreme processes, the presently sub-aerial New Jersey Coastal Plain was not proximal to moderating effects of the Atlantic Ocean, being about 100 miles inland and 300 feet above the lowered sea level. Current studies of analogous deposits across the mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain now benefit from dating techniques that were not available during the geologic mapping field work (1985-'92). During the mapping in New Jersey, hundreds of exposures failed to produce datable carbon remains within the stratigraphy of the surficial deposits. Recently reported TL dates from wind-blown sand filling frost wedges, exposed elsewhere in New Jersey, indicate that the widely distributed surficial deposits of the New Jersey Coastal Plain were active during the maximum cold period of the late Pleistocene (around 18,000 years ago).
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Evidence of Cold Climate Slope Processes from the New Jersey Coastal Plain: Debris Flow Stratigraphy at Haines Corner, Camden County, New Jersey