Document Type



Over 65,000 mill ponds dot the landscape of the eastern United States. Colonists built dams as early as the 1600s, enabling water-powered milling and providing water for agriculture. The creation of mill ponds fundamentally altered the landscape and created depositional environments that have archived sediments with properties that reflect historical land-use changes. This thesis provides a sedimentological analysis of a core from Jolly Pond, a former mill pond, and an assessment of how the landscape and watershed have changed over the last 370 years. I analyzed cesium (Cs) and lead (Pb) isotope profiles (137Cs, 210Pb) to determine sedimentation rates and to develop a chronology for the core. Sedimentological data, including dry bulk density, total carbon and nitrogen, and detailed grain size analysis, were collected and reveal trends that reflect past changes in the watershed. Additional historical research was done, linking the sedimentological data with known dates of important events that affected the pond and contributed to landscape change. Changes in the size of sedimentary inputs to Jolly Pond correspond to significant dates related to its historical development. Grain size changes mark the transfer of land as well as clearly define the operation of the grist mill. This study contributes to our understanding of sedimentation in colonial mill ponds and the local history of Williamsburg.

Date Awarded

Spring 2022



Advisor 1

Nick Balascio