Research in Dr.
is currently focused on understanding anthropogenic and climate
change imprinting on
genesis and subsequent land use at multiple scales of the critical zone.
have a lasting effect on the creation of a soil, biogeochemcial
cycling, and soil function. One
could argue that anthropogenic and
climate change imprinting have an
equivalent, lasting effect on the survival of humans.
Changing landscapes, changing soils. Several
projects in the laboratory are
investigating physical and biogeochemical changes in marginal, mineland
and urban/suburban soils due to shifts in land use. Our most
is addressing soil water movement and soil organic carbon flux with
shifting land use and
landscape age. We are also investigating soil suitability for
stormwater recharge in suburban/urban environments. Many of
topics fall within the realm of site remediation and will be an
important priority of
suburban/urban center revitalization, sustainability and the
stabilization of local
- Site-specific hillslope hydrologic flow path identification using
coupled pedon analysis and geophysics. (USDA-NRCS; USDA-AFRI).
- Effects of shale-gas gas extraction on
ecosystems: assessment, monitoring, and remediation (Heinz Foundation,
- Assessing landscape change due to Marcellus shale drilling
operations and devising landscape remediation strategies to minimize
site impacts (Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research).
- Quantifying soil change across MLRAs 127 and 140 for the identification of Ecological Sites and the development of State and Transition Models (USDA-NRCS).
- Enhancing Soil Survey information to identify environmentally sensitive wet landscapes in the Connewago and Octoraro Creek Watesheds, PA (USDA-NRCS).
- Greenhouse gas life cycle analysis of biochar effects
on marginal land conversion to switchgrass production (USDA-NIFA).
- Urban Soil Survey and hydrologic characterization of vacant land in Cleveland, Ohio for sustainable use (US-EPA).
- Urban soil characterization of vacant Land in Pittsburgh, PA.
- Soil dynamic property characteristics in an acid mine drainage
“Kill Zone”, Sylvan Grove, PA.
- Manipulating host- and mate-finding behavior of plum curculio: Development of a multi-life stage management strategy for a key fruit pest (USDA-SCRI).
- See a promotional movie highlighting our recent soil disturbance research.
Atmospheric deposition fate and transport. Dr. Drohan's laboratory and Dr. Elizabeth Boyer's laboratory are collaborating on an effort to advance understanding of the extent and degree of mercury accumulation in soils and watersheds across Pennsylvania, an area receiving some of the heaviest loads of atmospheric mercury deposition in the country. Our research combines soil mercury loading models with atmospheric loading models in an attempt to predict soils and watersheds at risk to mercury export.
- Predicting total mercury in Pennsylvania soils in order to predict potential stream Hg loading (PA-WRRC).
- Ideintifying Pennsylvania watersheds at risk to Hg accumulation
- A hydropedological perspective of mercury distribution in soils
of the Black Moshannon Lake drainage basin (PSU-Seed Grant).
Climate change imprinting on soil and ecosystems This group of projects is examining climate change imprinting on soils by studying the effect of eolian additions and glacial/periglacial climate change on soil development.
- Extent and thickness of Last Glacial eolian deposits in the conterminous U.S.
- Characterisitcs of Last Glacial eolian deposits in Pennsylvania soils.
- Characterization of periglacial landforms in the Ridge and Valley Province using seismic refraction and GPR.
Subaqueous soil genesis. With climate change, water tables and sea-level fluctuation will lead to former sub-aerial soils becoming submerged (a subaqueous soil or later legacy sediment). Present research on subaqueous soils in estuarine environments suggests such soils could be valued in the billions of dollars due to the direct and indirect benefits they provide in carbon sequestration, habitat support, flood and water quality protection. Our research is focused on assessing carbon sequestration in freshwater subaqueous soils and legacy sediments, and in determining the fate and transport of pollutants in watersheds from the well drained, to hydric, to subaqueous soil.
- Genesis of freshwater subaqueous soils in an
Appalachian Plateau impoundment (PSU Seed Grant). Completed
- Regional characteristics of Pennsylvania freshwater subaqueous soils.
- Rapid pedogenic changes in subaqueous soils following drainage
and flooding of an impoundment.
- See a promotional movie about our subaqueous soil sampling.