Palisades Park, NJ
comprises a narrow strip of land along the western bank of the Hudson
River, stretching for about ten miles in the north-south direction between the George Washington Bridge and the NJ/NY stateline.
Our dendrochronologic sampling takes place on the forested clifftop of the Palisades Sill, an igneous intrusion that formed about 200 million years ago in the Triassic period. The sill is a textbook geologic example of fractional
mineral crystallization with olivine-rich layers at its base. The
top of the sill stands approximately 400
ft above sea level, and offers sweeping views of the Hudson River and New York City. The
rocky substrate, thin soil cover, and efficient water drainage make the
trees in this park sensitive to moisture stress, and good
candidates for responding to drought.The forest is mostly deciduous hardwoods
(white and red oaks are common), with sparse conifers (eastern and
shortleaf pines, some norway spruce). The park is a sanctuary for birds
(hawks are a common sight) and other wildlife. Sampling of trees has been carried out by several student groups from the College of Staten Island/Macaulay Honors College, CUNY. We gratefully acknowledge the Palisades Interstate Park Commission-New Jersey Section for permission to sample.
(Left) Panoramic view towards the northeast over the Hudson River from the Alpine Lookout, Palisades Park. Photo taken in summer 2003. (Right) North view from the same vantage point, in fall 2006
Macaulay Honors Students gazing out over the Palisades cliffs
Students sampling a white oak
Students examining a shortleaf pine
Students in the field
Shortleaf pine core
Students extracting a core from an eastern white pine
A student group coring a northern red oak...
... a tulip poplar,
... and a sweetgum tree
A toppled white oak blocking the trail. A common reason of white oak mortality in this region is decay of the heartwood which compromises structural stability. The decay proceeds faster in wet climates such as in the northeast US.
Stephan and Cary coring a white oak
Students marking core samples and taking notes
Jessica coring a tulip poplar. Read about Jessica's experience here.
Student group at Alpine Lookout area
Student group at Alpine Boat Basin area
Students at the Rockefeller Lookout area
Hudson River and the City of Yonkers from the Palisades