Coastal Sediment Archives Can Guide Resilience Planning

News | Raritan River Initiatives | Resilience

Collecting Sediment Samples in Cheesequake Creek Wetlands

Coastal wetlands are beneficial to our natural and human ecosystems. They are incredibly important during intense weather events, like hurricanes, because they act as buffers and slow winds and storm surges down, lessening the impact to the nearby built environments. In many areas, including New Jersey, coastal wetlands are eroding rapidly. Dr. Jennifer L. Clear, from the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, presented ‘New Jersey wetlands: using sediment archives to inform and guide wetland protection, restoration and resilience’ during the Biotics and Ecosystems Panel at the 2016 RU On the Raritan Conference.

This research, conducted in partnership by Rutgers University, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Drexel University, West Chester University and the British Geological Survey, examined the historic and current effects of anthropogenic activities and climate change on New Jersey wetlands. It evaluated wetlands along the New Jersey coast, from the Delaware Bay to the Raritan Bay and used microfossils (microscopic fossil fragments) as an indicator for ecosystem health from the Great Sound to the Raritan Bay. In order to try to understand wetland resilience over time and contribute to future wetland restoration and sustainability efforts, the study monitored microfossil response to anthropogenic (nutrient loading) and natural (salinity). Researchers tested for zinc, copper, cadmium and lead in Cheesequake and the Delaware Bay to find the effects of these factors on NJ wetlands over a 2000 year period.

Dr. Jennifer Clear can be contacted at for more information about this study. The slides from the presentation can be found here:  To read the paper’s abstract, please go here: