View of Burger Draw, Johnson County, WY.

Burger Draw, Johnson Co., Wyoming

Biogeochemistry of Carbon and Nitrogen in Aquatic Environments

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Project Description  

Research Topics:

Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling in Groundwater

Nitrogen in Agriculturally Impacted Streams

Coal Bed Methane Discharge

Nitrate Remediation

Nitrogen Cycling in Acid-Impacted Streams

Bedrock and Terrestrial Nitrogen Cycling


Project Number: CR-0C400
Project Chief:
Richard L. Smith

SHORT TITLE: Biogeochemistry of C and N

PROJECT TITLE: Biogeochemistry of Carbon and Nitrogen in Aquatic Environments.

PROBLEM:  Although it is clearly recognized that microorganisms play an important role in the transformation of carbon- and nitrogen-containing compounds in aquatic habitats, very little is known about the exact nature of these transformations in either pristine or contaminated environments. Within the context of in situ environmental conditions, the mechanisms, pathways, rates, and factors controlling carbon and nitrogen cycling by microorganisms are poorly understood; however, these particular processes can significantly affect the entire range of biogeochemical and geochemical processes occurring within the aquatic environment.

Objectives:  Study the mechanisms, pathways, and rates of transformation of carbon and nitrogen compounds (natural and contaminant) mediated by microorganisms in aquatic habitats and identify some of the factors controlling these transformations. Examine the effect that these transformations have upon other biogeochemical processes.

Approach:  Select pristine and human-impacted aquatic environments that represent a range of interactions between carbon and nitrogen cycling processes. Determine the key, relevant microbial processes in both water and sediment samples by use of tracer techniques for laboratory and field studies and the factors controlling these processes. Develop sample-handling techniques needed to maintain in situ conditions. Employ experiments with isolated cultures of microorganisms, when necessary, to help interpret the results obtained with natural samples.

Relevance and Impact:  Providing knowledge that will enable proper management of ground-water and surface-water resources and predictive capability for the impacts of contamination and hydrologic alterations is an important component of the WRD mission.  This research has direct bearing on the importance of microorganisms to water quality and will further our capacity to both manage and predict subsequent usage of ground water and surface water as resources.  The research is inherently interdisciplinary in nature (incorporating microbiology, hydrology, geochemistry, and modeling) and thus reflects a distinguishing attribute of the Division and the Agency.

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This page last updated: 12/02/03

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