Date of Award

August 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Committee Member

Christophe Darnault

Committee Member

David Freedman

Committee Member

Brian Powell


Due to an increase in wildfires across the US and world, prescribed fires are implemented to reduce fuel loads. Obvious changes occur in the total organic matter by visual observations made after a fire, however, events lead to a production of hydrophobic substances due to the incomplete combustion of organic matter that have the potential to alter soil sorption capabilities. The objective of this research is to determine the sorption capabilities of field collected soil profiles subjected to various levels of prescribed burning using polar and nonpolar compounds. Laboratory controlled soil heating was also conducted to compare the sorption capabilities of the burned soil to that of the collected bulk soil. Soil from Frances Marion National Forest in Cordesville, South Carolina was collected from three locations. WS80 serves as a control, which has never been exposed to prescribed burning, WS77 has been managed with prescribed burns for over 15 years, and WSAA was collected following a low-intensity prescribed burn the day prior to sampling. Field samples were collected at 2.5 cm incremental depths up to a total depth of 25 cm. Using nonpolar 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene and polar 1,3,5 trinitrobenzene, batch sorption experiments were conducted to compare the sorption capabilities of the soil at the surface and lower depths. This study demonstrated a long term prescribed burning has an impact on soil physical and chemical properties. Additionally, a gradient in sorption properties as a function of depth of burned soil. Key findings of this study include increased sorption capability of top layer soil from prescribed burned watershed WS77 increased for polar and nonpolar compounds compared to control site, WS80 (increase of 34% for TCB and 64% for TNB).



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