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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., 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.

Graham D., Roy Chowdhury T., Herndon E., Chourey K., Ulrich C., Tang G., Xu X., Hultman J., Porras R., Tas N., Torn M., Elias D., Jansson J., Hinzman L., Phelps T., Hettich R., Gu B., Liang L., Wullschleger S. (2013) “NGEE Arctic: Biogeochemical controls on microbial CO2 and CH4 production in anoxic low-centered polygon soils from the Barrow Environmental Observatory.” Department of Energy TES/SBR Joint Investigators Meeting, Washington D.C.

Herndon E.M., Kubicki J. and Brantley S.L. (2012) “Micro- to macro-scale investigations of manganese in soil-plant systems.” 22nd V.M. Goldschmidt conference, Montreal, Canada.

Herndon E.M., Eissenstat D., Martinez C.E., and Brantley S.L. (2011, oral) “Biogeochemical characterization of contaminant Mn sequestration,” 21st V.M. Goldschmidt conference, Prague, Czech Republic.

Herndon, E.M., and Brantley, S.L. (2011, poster) “Movement of manganese contamination through the Critical Zone,” Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface (GES-9), Boulder, CO, USA.

Brantley S.L., Herndon E.M., Jin L., Eissenstat D., Raymond P. (2010, invited) “Vegetation: A natural capacitor for contaminant metals input into the Critical Zone”. EOS Trans. AGU 91, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B23K-01.

Research Areas
  • Trace metal biogeochemistry
  • Low-temperature geochemistry

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

Elizabeth M. Herndon
Department of Geology

Fall 2014 office hours:
McGilvrey Hall 212

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

(330) 672-3656