Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Committee Member

Dr. Brian A. Powell, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Nicole Martinez

Committee Member

Dr. Nishanth Tharayil


Mobilization of radioactivity from natural sources could lead to concentrations of naturally occuring radioactive material (NORM) in groundwaters past the EPA maximum concentration limit (MCL) for drinking water (Hughes et al., 2005; Powell et al., 2007). The Piedmont and Blue Ridge aquifers are a continuous source of water for much of the Eastern U.S., however there are sources of natural contamination due to the area's geologic history. In the Tamassee and Salem Quadrangles (N 34° 56.152' W 83° 00.284) area of Upstate South Carolina off Highway 130 near Burgess Creek, an abandoned logging road dug through a sandy loam unit.This site has been previously referenced as the O'Leary prospect.This sandy loam unit contains a monazite placer sand deposit with elevated levels of naturally occuring uranium (U) and thorium (Th). The current work examines uptake of uranium and thorium in Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine) and Dichanthelium commutatum (Variable Panicgrass) plants growing at the site and draws correlations between the extent of uptake and various soil characteristics including iron content, pH, organic matter content, and particle size. This study found Th and U concentrations are not correlated to particle size, pH, or organic matter. There is a correlation between iron, U, and Th in the plant shoots. Furthermore, higher concentrations of Th and U can be found in soils surrounding grass versus pine plants, and also in grass plants over pine plants.