Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

David Costello (Committee Member), Chad Hammerschmidt (Committee Chair), Carl Lamborg (Committee Member), James Runkle (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Terrestrial biomass and soils are a primary reservoir of mercury (Hg) derived from natural and anthropogenic sources; however, the fate and stability of Hg in the surface soil reservoir and its susceptibility to change as a result of human activities is relatively unknown. In this study, soil concentrations of Hg and lead (Pb) were compared between old- and new-growth forest soils as well as fallow grassland and agricultural soils in southwest Ohio. Old- and new-growth forest soils had significantly greater concentrations of soil Hg, Pb, and organic matter than fallow and cultivated soils in the O/A horizon. Mercury:organic matter ratios also were greatest in old-growth forest soil and differed among the four growth zones, potentially as a result of land use influencing both soil constituents independently. These results suggest that deforestation and soil cultivation are important processes that influence the respiration of organic matter and mobilization of Hg and Pb.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Year Degree Awarded