Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Earth Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Julia G. Bryce

Second Advisor

Michael Palace

Third Advisor

Justin Richardson


Within Earth surface systems, forests factor critically in carbon cycling and sequestration and accordingly play an important role in many climate change mitigation strategies. Predictive models of carbon storage require assessments of carbon storage as well as nutrient cycling, which, in turn, has long-term impacts on carbon storage. Nutrient allocations affect tree biomass, leaf growth, stem density, and biodiversity. Yet, bedrock contributions to nutrient allocations are not routinely quantified, even though bedrock compositions can influence soil types, soil pH, and tree species within forest.

Here, I expand on previously developed approaches to conduct a comparative study between eight sites across New Hampshire and Vermont with soils developed over varied bedrock lithologies. I investigate if rare earth elements (REEs) are useful proxies for chemical weathering of soils and bedrock and Ca, Mg allocations in soil and foliage samples. As has been found in previous studies, shallow soils and foliage samples were less enriched with REEs than those samples from the deepest soil depths. While Mg and REE allocations are not strongly associated with each other, links between highly abundant REEs and nutrients showed a promising correlation between Ca depletions to enhance the understanding of how tree species may behave in a Ca-depleted environment.