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Elizabeth M. Herndon

Asst. Professor
I am an environmental geochemist interested in the interactions between minerals, water, and biota that shape the Critical Zone – the thin surface of the Earth’s crust from groundwater to canopy that supports life. In particular, my research focuses on anthropogenic perturbations of soil geochemistry, both direct impacts of metal contamination and land use and indirect impacts due to climate change. Additionally, I’m interested in how these perturbations influence the transport of elements through watersheds, e.g. from air into soils, and from soils into vegetation and river systems.

In order to examine biogeochemical processes across multiple scales, my research incorporates a variety of methods such as field sampling, mesoscale laboratory experiments, analytical techniques (both in-house and at national laboratories), and theoretical modeling. Recent projects include: 1) Characterizing the potential influence of warming on organic carbon degradation in tundra soils in the Arctic, and 2) Quantifying the biogeochemical cycling of manganese contamination at the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory in central Pennsylvania.


Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities


Herndon E.M., Jin L., Andrews D.M., Eissenstat D.M., and Brantley S.L. (2015) Impact of vegetation on manganese cycling in temperate forests. Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Kraepiel A, Dere AL, Herndon EM and Brantley SL (2015) Natural and anthropogenic processes contributing to metal enrichment in surface soils of central Pennsylvania. Biogeochemistry.

Ma L., Konter J., Herndon E., Jin L., Steinhoefel G., Sanchez D., and Brantley S. (2015) Quantifying an early signature of the industrial revolution from lead concentrations and isotopes in soils of Pennsylvania, USA. Anthropocene.

Chowdhury TR, Herndon EM, Phelps TJ, Elias DA, Gu B, Liang L, Wullschleger S, and Graham DE (2014)Stoichiometry and temperature sensitivity of methanogenesis and CO2 production from saturated polygonal tundra in Barrow, Alaska. Global Change Biology.

Herndon E.M., Martínez C.E., and Brantley S.L. (2014) Spectroscopic (XANES/XRF) characterization of contaminant manganese cycling in a temperate watershed. Biogeochemistry 121, 505-517.

Herndon, E.M., and Brantley S.L. (2011) Movement of manganese contamination through the Critical Zone. Appl. Geochem 26, S40-S43.

Herndon, E.M., Jin, L., and Brantley S.L. (2011) Soils reveal widespread manganese enrichment from industrial inputs. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45(1), 241-247.

Brantley S.L., …, Herndon E., …, Yoo K. (2011) Twelve testable hypotheses on the geobiology of weathering. Geobiology 9(2), 140-165.

Research Areas
  • Metal Biogeochemistry
  • Critical Zone Processes
  • Soil Geochemistry

American Geophysical Union
The Geochemical Society
European Association of Geochemistry
Alpha Chi Sigma

Elizabeth M. Herndon
Department of Geology
Center for Ecology and Natural Resources Sustainability

Spring 2015 office hours:
McGilvrey Hall 212

Tuesday and Wednesday
1:00 - 3:30 pm
or by appointment

(330) 672-3656