Immediate and long-term fire effects on total mercury in forests soils of northeastern Minnesota
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): L. G. Woodruff; W. F. Cannon
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • catastrophic fires
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • mercury
  • mineral soils
  • Minnesota
  • organic soils
  • soil management
  • soil nutrients
  • soils
  • water
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 49214
Tall Timbers Record Number: 25540
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota, soils were collected from 116 sites in areas of primarily virgin forest with fire-origin stand years (year of last recognizable stand-killing wildfire) that range from the 1759 to 1976. Median concentrations for total mercury in soils for this span of 217 years range from 0.28 ± 0.088 ppm (1759) to 0.09 ± 0.047 ppm (1976) for A-horizon soils and from 0.23 ± 0.062 ppm (1759) to 0.09 ± 0.018 ppm (1976) for O-horizon soils. A separate study of soils collected from 30 sites within an area that burned in a 2004 wildfire at Voyageurs National Park, northern Minnesota, suggested that high soil burn severity resulted in significant mercury loss from both organic and mineral soils. Integrated data from these two studies and additional regional soil data demonstrate that older forests have progressively higher mercury concentrations in O-horizon soils (r2 = 0.423) and A-horizon soils (r2 = 0.456). These results support the hypotheses that an important factor for mercury concentrations in forest soils is time since stand-replacing fire and that high soil burn severity has the potential to reduce the concentration of mercury in burned soils for tens to hundreds of years. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

Woodruff, L. G., and W. F. Cannon. 2010. Immediate and long-term fire effects on total mercury in forests soils of northeastern Minnesota. Environmental Science & Technology, v. 44, no. 14, p. 5371-5376. 10.1021/es100544d.