Paper No. 14-1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
TWO YEAR PROGRESSION OF SOIL CHEMICAL CHANGES AS A RESULT OF THE 16 MILE FIRE, DELAWARE STATE FOREST, PA
The 16 Mile Fire began on April 20, 2016 and burned a total of 7,949 acres in the Delaware State Forest, PA. The high intensity and behavior of the fire was not typical for forests of northeastern Pennsylvania. The fire intensity was attributed to a warmer than average winter leading to little snow pack and lack of fuel compaction, 3 years of gypsy moth defoliation, and an extreme drying due to a drier spring. Progressive monitoring of changes in soil chemistry is needed to better understand the implications of these types of fires as they may become more prevalent given changing climatic conditions. Soil was collected from 16 sites in and around the 16 Mile Fire over the course of two years at approximate six-month intervals. Soil was sampled from the surface to depths of 12-15 inches and evaluated for pH, available Ca, Mg, K, percentage organic content, and bulk density. Overall, burned surface and subsurface soil chemistry altered by fire generated ash is shown to reach pre-fire conditions after 12-14 months. Scorched soils show chemical changes persisting beyond 14 months due to severe alkaline conditions created as a result of high temperature, white ash production. Percentage organic material remains above pre-fire conditions in scorched, surface soils due to decreased decomposition rates.