Environmental Geochemistry

Our major focus is in the area of environmental geochemistry, but the work done by members of the group is multidisciplinary and multifaceted. The Environmental Geochemistry research group is led by Dr. W. Berry Lyons, and as you can see on our personnel page, our group includes professional scientists, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

We are interested in the earth's chemical environment and how it is affected by physical, biological, geological, and anthropogenic processes. These broad areas of interest bring us to diverse parts of the world. We have ongoing projects in Antarctica where we are investigating the bioavailibility and weathering sources of iron in meltwater streams that drain in the Southern Ocean, the abiotic geochemical factors that control soil habitat suitability in Transantarctic Mountains, and even subglacial weathering environments >1 km under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Other Antarctic work has focused on subglacial brine evolution, the flux of subglacial water into the Southern Ocean off the Antarctic Peninsula, and work with colleagues to develop better, more efficient and environmentally friendly “tools” to sample subglacial environments. Outside of polar regions, we are investigating the geochemistry of river systems in Ireland, relating aqueous geochemistry to lithology, land use, and soil chemistry and determining denudation rates. Other research has focused on the relationship between chemical and physical erosion rates in alpine regions, including small mountainous rivers and high standing islands around the world. We have also recently used naturally-occurring geochemical tracers (e.g., stable isotopes of water, trace elements, and elemental ratios) to study changing hydrologic flow paths in tropical soils. Other work is closer to home, where we study the impact of both agriculture and urbanization on surface water quality in Ohio. Visit our Research Project page to learn more about our ongoing and recent work.

Finally, Dr. Lyons has been involved with polar research since the 1980s and was the lead-PI for the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Ecological Research Project (MCM-LTER), with which he has been involved since its inception in the early 1990s. As a group, we have worked with the diverse and multi-disciplinary team of MCM-LTER team of glaciologists, hydrologists, soil scientists and ecologists in order to determine the structure and function of this polar desert ecosystem. Though we are no longer formally associated with the MCM-LTER, we continue to collaborate with the group.