Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Earth and Ocean Sciences

Sub-Department

Geology

First Advisor

Arthur D Cohen

Abstract

This study was conducted to determine which peat-types have potential as media in permeable barriers, slurries, waste basin liners or other remediation schemes. In order to achieve this goal, individual studies of hydraulic conductivities, denitrification potentials, heavy metals sorption capacities, and hydrocarbon sorption capacities were conducted using samples from the USC Peat Sample Bank, which consists of highly characterized peat samples from different parts of the United States. Most previous studies were conducted on only one or two types of peat (often Sphagnum moss peat). However, because peat samples can be quit different in chemical, physical, and biological compositions from one site to another and even at depth within one deposit, it was felt that studies of a wider selection of highly characterized peat samples would be more useful than a study of a single type for predicting the best peats for various applications. Results demonstrated that different peats with distinctly different properties are required for each potential remediation scheme. Moreover, because of this variability among peat types, an additional study was conducted in which selected samples were tested for their potential to be separated into subcomponents (peat premacerals). This involved a visit to the Coal Chemistry Laboratory at Argonne National Lab, where a unique density-gradient centrifugation technique had previously been used to separate coal samples into their maceral components. After much experimentation and significant modification of these techniques, a successful separation of peat components was achieved. This new technique, thus, has the potential to lead to a better understanding of basic peat chemistry as well as a better understanding of the origin of the components that form ancient coal beds.

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