Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 34-35
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


POPE, Gregory A., Earth & Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Ave, Center for Environmental and Life Sciences, Montclair, NJ 07043, DARLEY, Jason, Tetra Tech, 6 Century Drive, Suite 300, Parsippany, NJ 07054, CALLANAN, Jennifer R., Environmental Science, William Paterson University, 300 Pompton Raod, Wayne, NJ 07470 and HAZEN, Matthew, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Delaware State Forest, Swiftwater, PA 18370

Wildfires are fleeting events with distinctive effects on soil and water quality. Soil mineralogical properties can be altered, which can change a soil's chemistry. Forest fires can also change the structure of the soil, making it less permeable, leading to an increase in runoff and erosion into nearby waterbodies. Furthermore, the impulse influx of burned biomass adds aluminum, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and silicon, though these elements are common within many parent materials. Identification of unique trace elements within biomass ash could determine whether such signatures exist in the soil and water following a fire. We examined a recent wildfire within the Delaware State Forest, Pennsylvania, to gain an understanding of the pedosphere major and trace chemistry after the fire, and the connection to surface hydrology. We collected soil and water samples within (impacted) and just outside (control) the 16-Mile (April 2016) wildfire, and used inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy of soil samples to determine post-fire major and trace element chemistry. Minor but elevated amounts of iron, magnesium, titanium, and zinc provided fire ash signatures in the post-fire soil. There is at least some persistence of the elements in the impacted soil more than six months following the fire. Using geographic information system (GIS) methods, results were extrapolated to understand how this affected the surrounding watershed. This investigation builds a more complete understanding of seldom-researched fire impacts in Appalachian deciduous forests, with implications for water resource management and forest resource management. The study's importance is amplified by the potential increase in wildfires in areas with less precipitation and rising temperatures due to climate change.
  • Pope_etal_GSA2018_16MF_FinalEdited.pdf (2.6 MB)