Event Title

Comparison of Piedmont Clay Complexity and Carbon and Nitrogen Release at Various Temperature Intensities through Simulated Wildfires

Poster Number

12

Presenter Information

Taylor Davis, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Scott Werts, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Chemistry, Physics and Geology

Location

Richardson Ballroom

Start Date

24-4-2015 3:20 PM

End Date

24-4-2015 4:50 PM

Description

Past research indicates that clay chemistry of soil can be altered below ground following a wildfire. Higher intensity burns can alter the pre-existing clay type and transform it into another. By contemplating the composition of a soil before a wildfire starts, it is possible to determine the outcomes and negative impacts of the burned soil at various temperatures, including possible emissions of carbon and nitrogen. Through evaluating different soil samples using the Rigaku Miniflex 600 XRD powder X-ray diffractometer, the clay composition of each sample was determined to be either in the kaolinite grouping, which is a less complex structure, or in the smectite, mica, or vermiculite groupings, which are more complex structures. After examination of field data using the Costech Elemental Combustion System for elemental analysis, a trend was found that as clay complexity increases in the individual horizons, the release of carbon and nitrogen from the soil also increase versus the other less complex horizons. It can be suggested that areas holding more complex clay mineral structures have the capacity to release more carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere when burned at higher temperatures and intensities. Using this information, it is possible to indicate those areas holding more complex clay minerals and put further protection or emphasis on ensuring their exposure to wildfire is lessened. In turn, this will reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released into the surrounding environment in the event of future uncontrolled wildfires.

Comments

Presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2014

Supported by a grant from the Winthrop University Research Council and the Boland Geology Endowment at Winthrop University

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Apr 24th, 3:20 PM Apr 24th, 4:50 PM

Comparison of Piedmont Clay Complexity and Carbon and Nitrogen Release at Various Temperature Intensities through Simulated Wildfires

Richardson Ballroom

Past research indicates that clay chemistry of soil can be altered below ground following a wildfire. Higher intensity burns can alter the pre-existing clay type and transform it into another. By contemplating the composition of a soil before a wildfire starts, it is possible to determine the outcomes and negative impacts of the burned soil at various temperatures, including possible emissions of carbon and nitrogen. Through evaluating different soil samples using the Rigaku Miniflex 600 XRD powder X-ray diffractometer, the clay composition of each sample was determined to be either in the kaolinite grouping, which is a less complex structure, or in the smectite, mica, or vermiculite groupings, which are more complex structures. After examination of field data using the Costech Elemental Combustion System for elemental analysis, a trend was found that as clay complexity increases in the individual horizons, the release of carbon and nitrogen from the soil also increase versus the other less complex horizons. It can be suggested that areas holding more complex clay mineral structures have the capacity to release more carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere when burned at higher temperatures and intensities. Using this information, it is possible to indicate those areas holding more complex clay minerals and put further protection or emphasis on ensuring their exposure to wildfire is lessened. In turn, this will reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released into the surrounding environment in the event of future uncontrolled wildfires.