Professor of Physics and Environmental Science
  • Brendan and T.J. at the 2014 coring site

  • A sediment core from Hammonasset State Park

  • T.J. carrying the Livingston corer back to the car

  • GPR survey on the frozen marsh

Research at Hammonasset State Park, Connecticut

In the Fall of 2014 I decided to investigate salt marshes at Hammonasset State Park, CT. The park contains the longest public sand beach in Connecticut and sees record numbers of visitors each year. I first visited the park with my senior seminar where we studied management policies that attempt to protect fragile salt marshes while granting recreational opportunities on the nearby beach to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. During this trip one of my students asked: “How deep is the marsh, and what’s below it?” Well, I didn’t know, but since I had the park manager right there I asked whether we could come back in the fall to take some cores. Turns out, we still don’t know, but it’s deeper than the three meter core we collected in 2014.

Lithology of Hammonasset Salt Marsh
Lithology of Hammonasset Salt Marsh

Our three meter core revealed several buried paleosols, lots of smelly sediment and possibly a few hurricane deposits.

In 2015 we conducted a ground-penetrating-radar survey, but thanks to the high salt and clay content, penetration depth was close to zero. Nevertheless, we spent a great February afternoon on the frozen marsh, and had a good time. We are currently studying the magnetic properties of the salt marsh sediments, trying to identify magnetic signals associated with soil formation or storm deposits, and prepare to go back this winter to collect a longer core. So, stay tuned …