New Jersey’s oblong-shaped area encompasses 22,587 sq km (8,721 sq mi), including 1,026 sq km (396 sq mi) of inland water and 1,039 sq km (401 sq mi) of coastal waters over which it has jurisdiction. At its longest point, New Jersey measures 270 km (168 mi) from north to south, including Cape May Peninsula. At its narrowest the distance from east to west is 58 km (36 mi). Toward the south, where the state’s width is greatest, the distance is 92 km (57 mi). The mean elevation of the state is 80 m (250 ft). New Jersey has 209 km (130 mi) of coastline. Four major landform regions are found in New Jersey, extending across the state in a northeast-to-southwest direction. They are the Ridge and Valley province, also called the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Section or the Newer Appalachians; the New Jersey Highlands, a portion of the broader physiographic region called the New England province; the Piedmont; and the Atlantic portion of the Coastal Plain.
The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Section occupies the northwestern corner of the state. It consists of a prominent ridge of resistant sandstone called Kittatinny Mountain. The Delaware River, flowing through the gorge known as the Delaware Water Gap, cuts into this ridge. On Kittatinny Mountain, a few miles south of the New York-New Jersey boundary, is High Point, the highest elevation in the state at 550 m (1,803 ft). Between Kittatinny Mountain and the New Jersey Highlands lies a valley that supports much of New Jersey’s dairy industry. The floor of the valley is underlain by limestone with irregular ridges of shale outcrops. The elevation is about 120 to 150 m (about 400 to 500 ft). The valley is part of the Great Appalachian Valley that can be traced from the Hudson River to Alabama.
The New Jersey Highlands, or the New England Upland, begin at the southeastern side of the Appalachian Valley. Geologically similar to New England, the highlands consist of a series of flat-topped ridges composed of gneiss (a banded rock created by heat and pressure) and separated from one another by narrow valleys running in a general northeast-southwest direction. The larger valleys are drained by the Musconetcong and Pequest rivers. The region is dotted with lakes, many of which are summer resorts. The largest natural lakes are Lake Hopatcong; Greenwood Lake, lying partly in New York; Green Pond; and Culvers Lake.
To the east of the New Jersey Highlands is the Northern Piedmont, also called the Piedmont Lowlands or Triassic Lowlands. This belt of land, about 30 km (about 20 mi) wide, is underlain by sandstones and shales of a generally bright red color. Dark rocks known locally as traprock flowed into this region in past geologic ages; erosion of the surrounding sandstone has caused these rocks to stand out as prominent ridges above the plain. These ridges, the Watchung and Sourland mountains, rise more than 120 m (400 ft). The Palisades, another traprock ridge, terminates in spectacular sheer cliffs along the west side of the Hudson River, opposite New York City.
The Piedmont Lowlands, also known as the Newark Basin, is the part of New Jersey most easily accessible to New York City, and site of most of the state’s major cities. Three rivers drain the region. The Raritan River empties into the ocean south of Staten Island. The Passaic River flows through the northern half of the Piedmont basin. It creates a spectacular waterfall at Paterson, where it flows across First Watchung Mountain. The Hackensack River joins the Passaic River at Newark Bay, from which they enter New York Bay via the Kill Van Kull.
A line drawn from Perth Amboy to Trenton marks the approximate northwestern limits of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. This plain occupies about three-fifths of New Jersey’s area and can be divided into two distinct parts, the inner and outer coastal plains.
The inner coastal plain, known as the Greensand Belt, lies adjacent to the Piedmont and is roughly 30 to 40 km (20 to 25 mi) wide. Its rich and fertile lowland has given New Jersey its reputation as a garden state. Many truck farms and orchards, as well as an important dairy industry, flourish there. The outer coastal plain consists of loosely consolidated sands and is generally infertile. Its landscape is that of a gently rolling plain that slopes from a series of small hills, about 60 m (about 200 ft) high, marking the western margin of the outer coastal plain to the ocean. At the ocean are a series of shallow lagoons and salt marshes and a series of offshore sandbars, which form a string of inhabited islands.
The southeastern portion of the outer coastal plain, which is covered with scrub oak and pine, is called the Pine Barrens. It is lightly populated, and the infertile soil limits agriculture to scattered areas of cranberry and blueberry production. "New Hampshire" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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