Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Carla M. Koretsky

Second Advisor

Dr. Johnson Haas

Third Advisor

Dr. Allan Kehew

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Trace metals such as Cu, Ni, and Co in very minute quantities are essential for the well being of most living things. However, at elevated concentrations, such as found in polluted and contaminated sites, they may be highly toxic. These metals, together with Cd and Pb, which are not nutrients even in small concentrations, may be released into aquifers, surface waters, sediments or soils via human activities, and may enter the food chain directly from surface or ground water sources or through bioaccumulation, for example from sediments and soils into plants.

The overall goal of this study is to develop improved methods for quantifying the fate of trace metals in the environment. The sorption of Cu, Pb, Ni, Co, Cd on Wyoming Na-Montmorillonite (SWY-2) is investigated as a function of pH, ionic strength and sorbate/sorbent ratio. These data are used to derive diffuse layer model thermodynamic stability constants describing metal binding on montmorillonite. The results of this study should be useful in guiding the design of environmentally sound and cost effective remediation strategies for metal-polluted aquatic systems.

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