New Jersey's long, dramatic geological history produced the soils currently found in the state. Millions of years ago, New Jersey was connected to Africa and then violently torn apart. The same coastal soils found in New Jersey exist in Africa along the same lines of latitude.The geological, climatological and biological history of an area dictates its soil formation. New Jersey's soil is the eroded and altered remains of a number of its parent rocks.
Over time, soils are transported around the world by the movement of wind, water and glaciers. It's interesting to note that the sands of the Sahara Desert are constantly blown into the atmosphere and incorporated in soils around the world.
Earth's original surface was an igneous crust of granite and basalt. But over time, rain, wind, biological components and temperature variations cause rock to weather (break into small particles) and undergo pedogenesis (form soil). Soil is composed of organic and inorganic materials, water and gases. It is considered a nonrenewable resource since only 10 mm of soil production takes between 100 and 1,000 year to form.
Nitrogen, phosphate and potassium form the typical compounds found in fertile soils and are vital nutrients for plants. Soil is one of the earth’s most important resourses, without which terrestrial plant life couldn’t exist, and possibly all life on earth as well.
Classification of Soils
Soils are classified according to their parent rock type (original rocks they formed from), composition and particle size. New Jersey has several general types of soil and those are further classified into hundreds of particular types of soils, each with special distinguishing characteristics. Geologists also classify soils on their productive capabilities using Roman numerals Class I through Class VIII--Class I soils being the most productive and moving toward Class VIII soils, which are the least productive. The general soil types include those of marine deposits, marsh deposits, muck-organic deposits and loamy sand deposits.
Soils of Southeastern New Jersey
The surface geology of the southeastern sections of New Jersey (roughly from Cumberland County to Ocean County) have soils derived from sand, silt and clay deposited during the Tertiary Period (a geological time period from about 65 to 1.8 million years ago). Seven soil types are associated with this region: Lakehurst-Lakewood-Evesboro, Downer-Evesboro, Shrewsbury-Collington Tinton, Sulfaquents Sulfihemists, Urban Land-Fripp, the Woodmansie-Downer and the Manahawkin-Alsion Beryland. Each of the associated soils have similar compositions.
Northern New Jersey
Rockaway series soil is a brown, gravely loam found in the counties in northern New Jersey (including major sections of Hunterdon, Mercer, Union, Essex and Bergen counties). This soil is formed from the exposed sediments deposited during the Devonian Period (about 410 million years ago) and is composed of weathered particles of conglomerate, sandstone, shale and limestone.
Soils in Bergen County
Three dominant soils in Bergen County include Booton Series soil, which formed from glacial till. It is acidic and originated from shale, basalt and diabase rocks. Also present are the Carlisle series soil, which formed from the decomposition of woody plants in a boggy environment, and the Dunellen series soil, which formed on the outwash plains of the Saddle River.