Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Diane McKnight

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Suzanne Anderson


Black Carbon (BC) is a long-lasting and ubiquitous product of combustion. It is found nearly everywhere on the Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere. It was originally considered to be very stable in soils, but is now understood to be mobile in terrestrial and aquatic environments. The magnitude of BC flux into oceans via riverine transport has been established, but the exact conditions under which transport occurs are unknown. This research monitored surface water sites to determine if a pulse of BC could be identified from a recently burned forested area in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. BC was shown to vary more highly in concentration at lower stream order, however, short-term trends in concentration demonstrated no signal of recent fire activity in dissolved BC. Instead, surface waters exhibited evidence of a stable pool of dissolved BC being released to streams from the watershed.