Date of Award

Fall 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Kevin Johannesson

Committee Member

James Sanders

Committee Member

Joseph H. Rule

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.G4 B68 2001


Norfolk, Virginia is home to the Northern Hemisphere's largest coal terminal the Lamberts Point Docks. The coal loading process of this terminal creates large amounts of coal dust, which subsequently is distributed throughout the local region by atmospheric transport and deposition. While the coal dust itself poses only minor health hazards, certain trace elements within the coal, particularly arsenic, may pose environmental as well as significant health hazards. Within coal, arsenic occurs primarily in the mineral pyrite. As pyrite in the coal dust is subsequently oxidized via exposure to the atmosphere and/or meteoric water, arsenic may be released to the environment. In this study, we sought to determine the distribution of coal dust added to the local soils by the coal shipping processes occurring at the Lamberts Point Docks. Eighteen surface soil samples and 7 soil cores were collected for analysis for both coal dust and arsenic concentrations. Coal dust was separated from each soil sample using a heavy liquid (i.e., sodium polytungstate) extraction procedure. Results indicate substantial levels of coal dust within the soils of the study area, with coal levels ranging from 3.2% to a high of 19.9% coal by weight. Coal dust separates isolated from the soil samples were digested using concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid and analyzed for arsenic by high-resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS). The analysis indicates arsenic ranged from undetectable levels (/kg) up to 17.4 mg/kg in the coal samples, while arsenic concentrations of the total soil sample digests ranged from 3.0 mg/kg to 30.5 mg/kg. Statistical correlations were found between coal dust distribution and the arsenic in the coal dust, and between coal dust distribution and total soil arsenic, with a correlation coefficient (r) of0.900 between the coal dust distribution and the arsenic in the coal dust, and 0.536 between soil arsenic and the arsenic in the coal.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).