Congratulations to Joshua Thompson for being selected as the recipient of the 2022 DEES Research Award for a geophysical investigation of dual domain transport in the Harrier Meadows salt marsh!

Joshua Thompson

   Saltmarshes are important because they are buffer zones against coastal storms, provide essential ecosystem services, and act as indicators of environmental change. Harrier Meadows is a rehabilitated salt marsh in North Arlington, NJ that contains a diverse range of plants and animals. In particular, the pickleweed is a plant native to Harrier Meadows that thrives in areas with the saltiest soils. Pickleweed plays an essential role in salt marsh maintenance. To effectively reintroduce native salt tolerant plant species, such as the pickleweed, we need to map the location of the saltiest soils in marshes. In my research, I will use electrical geophysics to locate the high salt regions in Harrier meadows for habitat selection of the pickleweed.

   More specifically, this study will map regions of high salt concentrations by applying electrical currents in the soil and measuring the resistivity (the extent to which a material opposes an electrical current).  We can assume high amounts of salts are present if resistivity is low. The experiment will measure resistivity over a tidal cycle (24 hours). Portions of the survey area will retain salt and therefore exhibit low resistivity. This is because the salts are locked up in the soil after the falling tide removes sea water. Geophysical studies, such as this experiment, can provide great insight into how salts and contaminants move through saturated soils and help locate areas ideal for salt tolerant plants. It's fascinating how the same science that lights our homes (electrical currents) can be used to gain information about the soils and our environment.