Roadside Vernal Pool Scavenger Hunt

Jason Howell

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Nov 23, 2009
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In my recent travels I have not been able to find one Vernal Pool in Wharton along a road that has not been driven into by off-roaders/mudders. (Tire tracks leading in, turbid water). Does anyone know of an example where one has not been trashed?


I'm going to start tagging them on my GPS and posting here with examples. Feel free to add to the list.
 

NJChileHead

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Dec 22, 2011
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Jason, what criteria are you using to define a vernal pool? Not asking to be difficult or give a hard time, it's an honest question.
 
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Spung-Man

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Rhodehamel (1970), the hydrologist who estimated the 17-trillion-gallon figure for the Cohansey Aquifer, stated that 2-percent of the Pine Barrens surface was covered by intermittent pools (spungs). Unlike classic vernal pools, where surface runoff is perched by an impervious bottom, spungs are groundwater features hence their intermittent descriptive. It is hard to believe that thousands of spungs have been so degraded. Those south of the Mullica seem pretty intact. Is it really that bad up there in North Jersey (above Batsto)?

S-M
 
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smoke_jumper

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Mar 5, 2012
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Let's start here
image.jpg
......this is not one, but I bet you figured that out by now;)
 
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woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
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Near Mt. Misery
A road cut next to a spung made little sense historically, since it would be subject to seasonal washouts. Most roads that do lie adjacent to legitimate spungs were created by the FFS in haste. An exception might be perhaps the JCRR as it would have been very difficult to circumvent every spung in the construction of the rail. Many of the areas that apper to be roadside spungs are areas where the state has removed top soil for road maintenance or road drainage. This action by the state has resulted in something that looks like a spung, as some grasses, etc have moved in but is really just surface water run off and not really a spung created by groundwater flucuation or, essentially, created by nature. these areas would not be recognized by the DEP as spungs (or intermittent pools).
 

Spung-Man

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Woodjin, great observations!

An interesting read on this topic is Zampella & Laidig (2003). The Pinelands Commission scientists concluded that well established (+50-years) excavations were roughly as good a habitat as natural spungs. It was the lack of a gradually sloping bottom that lowered dug pond functional equivalency – they lacked vegetation zonation that mother nature provided in closed depression sculpting.

Natural spungs are nearly unique in their basin morphology, in that their sediments are very old and complex. Quartz sands were physically weathered nearly to dust by a process called cryogensis (Demitroff et al. 2007; French et al. 2012; Demitroff 2015), a grain commutation that only occurs within the active layer of soil that is found above permafrost. While vernal and intermittent ponds are present all over the world, especially near ancient ice sheets (ice marginal), most have man-made (legacy) sediment fill collecting in them.

Most true spungs have changed very little in 10,000 years, since the end of the last ice age. It is a tragedy to have these rare cool puddles destroyed by a few uninformed off-roaders. Here’s the kicker. A man-modified spung behind my house is part of a natural basin complex. While the disturbed pond has a number of threatened and endangered plants, its undisturbed counterparts don’t have the T&E plants. I suspect that a dropping s shallow water-table may play a part in this dynamic, and deeper disturbance means better access to that lower over-withdrawn water-table.

What is detrimental for ancient climate change study may in some bizarre way actually be beneficial for the ecosystem – but only decades after the disturbance ends.

Demitroff M. 2015. Pleistocene ventifacts and ice-marginal conditions, New Jersey, USA. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. On invitation for a special issue dedicated to Session 12 of EUCOP4, Techniques of Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction from Periglacial Deposits. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.1860

French HM, Demitroff M, Streletskiy D, Forman SL, Gozdzik J, Konishchev VN, Rogov VV, Lebedeva-Verba MP. 2009. Evidence for Late-Pleistocene permafrost in the Pine Barrens, southern New Jersey. Kriosfera Zemli//Earth’s Cryosphere. 13, 3: 17–28 (in Russian).

Demitroff M, Rogov VV, French HM, Konishchev VN, Streletskiy DA, Lebedeva-Verba MP, Alekseeva VA. 2007. Possible evidence for episodes of Late-Pleistocene cryogenic weathering, southern New Jersey, eastern USA. In Russian Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, Vol II: Cryogenic Resources of Polar Regions, Salekhard City, Polar Cycle, West Siberia, June 2007. pp. 139–141.

Zampella RA, Laidig KJ. 2003. Functional equivalency of natural and excavated coastal plain ponds. Wetlands. 23: 4, 860–876

Cheers!
Spung-Man
 
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Ben Ruset

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Doing research after you have a conclusion already made up in your mind leads for poor science. Anybody can cherry pick and bend results to prove whatever point they want to make.
 

Spung-Man

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Can you describe the uniforms the off-roaders wear, in case I encounter any of them in the Pines? ;)
Jerseyman

Thanks for your vested interest in spung coverage to the Nth degree! Just a bit of overwork-induced dyslexia. The post is edited with the intended word by adding the missing letter "n."

Oh boy! The next meeting of you two should be interesting. :D
He'll get a 'oogie...
 
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Jason Howell

Explorer
Nov 23, 2009
126
50
Jason, what criteria are you using to define a vernal pool?
What Are Vernal Pools?

Vernal pools are confined wetland depressions, either natural or man-made, that hold water for at least two consecutive months out of the year and are devoid of breeding fish populations.

Vernal pools come in an array of forms: isolated depressions within upland forests, seasonally flooded meadows, floodplain swamps, abandoned gravel pits or quarries, and even derelict swimming pools. However, no matter what the structure or genesis of the pool is, all vernal pools either dry out completely or draw down to very shallow levels unsuitable for sustaining fish. Fish are highly predatory on amphibian eggs and larvae. Over the course of evolution, several species of salamanders and frogs exploited these fish-less water bodies. Today, these species exhibit "hard-wired" instincts and behaviors that are geared exclusively towards fish-free vernal habitats.


http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/vernalpool.htm

By the State's definition, High Crossing fits vernal pool criteria. Believe it or not I saw a juvenile Northern Water Snake in the turbid water at High-Crossing in August. I wouldn't personally include pools that have formed in the roads, however someone could make the argument for that as well. With Spung-Man's expanded information, it occurs to me that what we may find is that pools with substantive Atlantic White Cedar growth have been sufficiently protected from vehicles.

If you feel inclined, we may also post these findings to the state.

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/vrnpoolupdate.htm#datasheet
 
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Spung-Man

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What Are Vernal Pools?

Vernal pools are confined wetland depressions, either natural or man-made, that hold water
Thank you for providing a definition. Spungs are not confined, static water-holding systems as you describe. Instead, spungs are dynamic water-passage systems where shallow groundwater passes through them. Demitroff (2007) argued that these depression, interpreted as Pleistocene blowouts, are literally open windows to the regional shallow aquifer. As they dry up, they attest to shorter hydroperiods and lowering groundwater. French & Demitroff (2001) suggested that aquifer over-withdrawal was to blame for the observed spung degradation. I agree with Pinelands Commission scientists, they are better defined as intermittent ponds than vernal ponds.

Demitroff M. 2007. Pine Barrens Wetlands: Geographical Reflections of South Jersey’s Periglacial Legacy. Masters Thesis. Newark, DE: University of Delaware. 224 pp.

French HM, Demitroff M. 2001. On the cold–climate origin of the enclosed depressions and wetlands [‘spungs’] of the Pine Barrens, southern New Jersey, USA. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 12: 337–350. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.401

S-M
 
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46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
8,838
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Coastal NJ
I'm not sure I would trust what the DEP uses for a description, after all, look what they did with the MAP. Did you find any shrimp in your 'vernal' pools? Apparently the Cook College database is no longer online.

MA seems to have their act together, with good details and program.

http://vernalpool.org/vpa_1.htm
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
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Near Mt. Misery
I will concede that the definition provided (by Jason) would certainly apply to a wide range including vernal pools created by human disturbance or intent. However, as Spung-man eluded to, there is a far greater value to 10,000 + year old Pleistocene created spungs than basins created through maintenance, or lack of road maitenance, or basins created in planned residential developments. I suppose vernal pools have been created by argriculture as well in some of the borrow pits for cranberry operations. If we attribute that same value to the later, then go arounds would have to be encouraged to protect the mudholes created from vehlicular use and lack of timely repair. I guess it is all really very subjective. That being said, I do believe there is value to some environments created in this post industrial forest. for example, abandoned cranberry bogs provide for diverse flora and fauna. Again, it is all subjective.
 
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woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
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Near Mt. Misery
Spung-man,
a couple questions:
1) Am I correct to assume that the weathered quartz sand/dust created during periglacial times is less porus than quartz sand not subjected to cryogensis? is this soil unique to spung basins?

2) do you believe that aquifer degradation is the primary reason for the succession of the savannas to low land environment? (as opposed to lack of wild fire)

thanks,

Jeff
 

Spung-Man

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1) Am I correct to assume that the weathered quartz sand/dust created during periglacial times is less porus than quartz sand not subjected to cryogensis? is this soil unique to spung basins?

Porous is not the best grain description, but microfractured grain-pore qualities are very different from in situ adjacent non-cryogenic unfractured sand. We found spung sediments matched soil in northern Siberia that experienced very cold, polar-like climate conditions. Ice marginal land all around the world experienced cryogenic weathering. For example, Bordeaux has this signature, but ours is more pronounced. Like Bordeaux, we too have "terroir" (look it up), but ours is better!

2) do you believe that aquifer degradation is the primary reason for the succession of the savannas to low land environment? (as opposed to lack of wild fire)

While fire pulls the savannah-genesis (h intended) trigger, the loaded gun happens to be a consistent high water-table in interplay with paleohydrology (Demitroff 2007).

S-M
 

Jason Howell

Explorer
Nov 23, 2009
126
50
Thank you for providing a definition. Spungs are not confined, static water-holding systems as you describe. Instead, spungs are dynamic water-passage systems where shallow groundwater passes through them. Demitroff (2007) argued that these depression, interpreted as Pleistocene blowouts, are literally open windows to the regional shallow aquifer. As they dry up, they attest to shorter hydroperiods and lowering groundwater. French & Demitroff (2001) suggested that aquifer over-withdrawal was to blame for the observed spung degradation. I agree with Pinelands Commission scientists, they are better defined as intermittent ponds than vernal ponds.

Demitroff M. 2007. Pine Barrens Wetlands: Geographical Reflections of South Jersey’s Periglacial Legacy. Masters Thesis. Newark, DE: University of Delaware. 224 pp.

French HM, Demitroff M. 2001. On the cold–climate origin of the enclosed depressions and wetlands [‘spungs’] of the Pine Barrens, southern New Jersey, USA. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 12: 337–350. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.401

S-M

For the purposes of this Scavenger Hunt, should we employ the term intermittent ponds as a term to include both the man-made and naturally occurring?

You had asked if it was really getting that bad up North. This isn't Wharton, but here is what some of the off-roaders are up to behind Whitesbog. It is even more wide-spread than it appears in satellite. They are driving all over the stream corridor. They even put trash-cans up in some places(Whose coming and emptying them?) in an ironic and tragic effort to appear environmentally conscience.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/W...s0x89c16b85a9a14cf1:0x169ec9aaa470767!6m1!1e1

IMG_9211 by Jason Howell, on Flickr
 
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woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
Porous is not the best grain description, but microfractured grain-pore qualities are very different from in situ adjacent non-cryogenic unfractured sand. We found spung sediments matched soil in northern Siberia that experienced very cold, polar-like climate conditions. Ice marginal land all around the world experienced cryogenic weathering. For example, Bordeaux has this signature, but ours is more pronounced. Like Bordeaux, we too have "terroir" (look it up), but ours is better!



While fire pulls the savannah-genesis (h intended) trigger, the loaded gun happens to be a consistent high water-table in interplay with paleohydrology (Demitroff 2007).

S-M

thanks
 

Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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For the purposes of this Scavenger Hunt, should we employ the term intermittent ponds as a term to include both the man-made and naturally occurring?

Collectively they are all important wetlands, of which closed basins (intermittent ponds) are but one feature form.

More confounding is that spungs have many formal and informal names, as do their “Carolina Bay” counterparts around the world (see Demitroff 2007).

I argue there are four Pleistocene hydric features found in the Pinelands. Their names in Piney-speak vernacular include spungs, savannah, blue holes, and cripples.


Your Bucks Cove Run example would be difficult to accurately describe, as there is much potential for earlier human disturbance. This wetland was once used for cranberry-bog production, which almost certainly is a modified environment. Separating nature from nurture can be difficult. Was this once a riverine spung goose or duck pond? Maybe, maybe not.

S-M
 
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oji

Piney
Jan 25, 2008
2,053
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Browns Mills
For the purposes of this Scavenger Hunt, should we employ the term intermittent ponds as a term to include both the man-made and naturally occurring?

You had asked if it was really getting that bad up North. This isn't Wharton, but here is what some of the off-roaders are up to behind Whitesbog. It is even more wide-spread than it appears in satellite. They are driving all over the stream corridor. They even put trash-cans up in some places(Whose coming and emptying them?) in an ironic and tragic effort to appear environmentally conscience.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/W...s0x89c16b85a9a14cf1:0x169ec9aaa470767!6m1!1e1

IMG_9211 by Jason Howell, on Flickr
Call 1-877-WARNDEP and report it.
 
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