Skip to content


Elizabeth HerndonElizabeth Herndon (she/her)

Joint Faculty
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Phone: (865) 341-0330
Research Website

Elizabeth Herndon is an environmental geochemist in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Joint Faculty in EPS. She is broadly interested in understanding metal biogeochemistry and how metal cycling influences carbon and nutrient dynamics in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Her research incorporates various geochemical and spectroscopic techniques to understand how geochemical processes at the pore-scale influence ecosystem function at the watershed-scale. This research has implications for understanding nutrient and carbon fluxes across multiple biomes.

Current projects include:

  1. Geochemical factors (e.g., iron oxides) that mediate phosphorus bioavailability across redox gradients in arctic tundra (National Science Foundation/Office of Polar Programs)
  2. Biogeochemical manganese cycling and impacts on carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems (ORNL/Laboratory Directed Research and Development)

More information can be found at

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles
*indicates mentee author; †indicates senior author

  1. Yazbek, L.*, Cole, K., Shedleski, A., Singer, D., and Herndon, E.† (2021) Hydrogeochemical processes limiting Fe export in a headwater catchment impaired by acid mine drainage. ACS ES&T Water 1(1), 68 – 78.
  2. Chowdhury, M. A. R., Herndon, E., and Singer, D.† (2021) Colloidal metal transport in soils developing on historic coal mine spoil. Applied Geochemistry.
  3. Singer, D. M.†, Herndon, E., Zemanek, L., Cole, K., Sanda, T.G., Senko, J., and Perdrial, N. (2021) Biogeochemical controls on the potential for long-term contaminant leaching from soils developing on historic coal mine spoil. Soil Systems 5(1), 3.
  4. Herndon E. M.†, Kinsman-Costello L., Di Domenico N.*, Duroe K.*, Barczok M.*, Smith C., and Wullschleger S. D. (2020) Iron and iron-bound phosphate accumulate in surface soils of ice-wedge polygons in arctic tundra. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 22, 1475 – 1490.
  5. Shaw M.*, Yazbek L.*, Singer D., Herndon E.† (2020) Seasonal mixing from intermittent flow drives concentration-discharge (C-Q) behavior in a stream affected by coal mine drainage. Hydrological Processes 34(17), 3669-3682.
  6. Singer D.†, Herndon E., Cole K., Koval J., Perdrial N. (2020) Formation of secondary mineral coatings and the persistence of reduced metal-bearing phases in soils developing on historic coal mine spoil. Applied Geochemistry 121, p. 104711.
  7. Singer D.†, Herndon E., Cole K., Burkey M., Morrison S., Cahill M., Bartucci M. (2020) Micron-scale distribution controls metal(loid) release during simulated weathering of a Pennsylvanian coal shale. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 269, 117 – 135.
  8. Herndon E.†, Kinsman-Costello L., and S. Godsey (2020) Biogeochemical cycling of redox-sensitive elements in permafrost-affected ecosystems. In "Biogeochemical cycles: Ecological Drivers and Environmental Impacts." K. Dontsova, Z. Balogh-Brunstad, G. Le Roux (eds). John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Invited and peer-reviewed.
  9. Herndon E.†, Yarger, B.*, Frederick, H.*, and Singer, D. (2019) Iron and manganese biogeochemistry in forested coal mine spoil. Soil Systems 3(1), 13.
  10. Herndon E.†, Kinsman-Costello L., Duroe K.*, Mills J.*, Kane E., Sebestyen S., Thompson A., and Wullschleger S. (2019) Iron (oxyhydr)oxides serve as phosphate traps in tundra and boreal peat soils. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 124(2), 227 – 246.
  11. Brantley S.†, White T., West N., Williams J., Forsythe B., Shapich D., Kaye J., Lin H., Shi Y., Kaye M., Herndon E., Davis K., He Y., Eissenstat D., Weitzman J., DiBiase R., Li L., Reed W., Brubaker K., and Gu X. (2018) Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory: Shale Hills in the Context of Shaver’s Creek Watershed. Vadose Zone Journal 17(1), 1 – 19. doi:10.2136/vzj2018.04.0092
  12. Sak P.†, Murphy M., Ma, L., Gaillardet J., Herndon E., Brantley S., and Daniel C. (2018) From unweathered core to regolith in a single weathering andesitic clast: rates and trends of in situ chemical weathering on a tropical volcanic island (Basse Terre Island, French Guadeloupe). Chemical Geology 498, 17 – 30.
  13. Herndon E.†, Steinhoefel G., Dere ALD, and P. Sullivan (2018) Perennial flow through convergent hillslopes explains chemodynamic solute behavior in a shale headwater catchment. Chemical Geology 493, 413-425.
  14. Herndon EM†, Havig JR, Singer DM, McCormick M, and LR Kump (2018) Manganese and iron geochemistry in sediments underlying the redox-stratified Fayetteville Green Lake. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 231, 50-63.
  15. Herndon EM†, AlBashaireh AB*, Singer DM, Roy Chowdhury T, Gu B, Graham DE (2017) Influence of iron redox cycling on organo-mineral associations in Arctic tundra soil. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta207, 210-231.
  16. Chambers LG†, Chin Y, Filippelli GM, Gardner CB, Herndon EM, Long DT, Lyons WB, Macpherson GL, McElmurry SP, McLean CE, Moore J, Moyer RP, Nezat CA, Soderberg K, Teutsch N, and E Widom (2016) Developing the scientific framework for urban geochemistry. Applied Geochemistry 67, 1-20. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.01.005
  17. Herndon EM, Yang Z, Bargar J, Janot N, Regier T, Graham D, Wullschleger S, Gu B, and Liang L† (2015) Geochemical drivers of organic matter decomposition in Arctic tundra soils. Biogeochemistry 126(3), 397-414. doi:10.​1007/​s10533-015-0165-5
  18. Herndon EM, Mann BF, Roy Chowdhury T, Yang Z, Graham DE, Wullschleger SD, Liang L, and Gu B† (2015) Pathways of anaerobic organic matter decomposition in tundra soils from Barrow, Alaska. Journal of GeophysicalResearch – Biogeosciences 120, 2345-2359. doi:10.1002/2015JG003147
  19. Herndon EM, Dere AL, Sullivan PL, Norris D, Reynolds B, and Brantley SL† (2015) Landscape heterogeneity drives contrasting concentration-discharge relationships in shale headwater catchments. Hydrology and Earth Systems Science 19, 3333-3347. doi:10.5194/hess-19-3333-2015
  20. Mann BF, Chen H, Herndon EM, Chu RK, Tolic N, Portier E, Roy Chowdhury T, Robinson EW, Callister SJ, Wullschleger SD, Graham D, Liang L, and Gu B† (2015) High-resolution molecular profiling of permafrost soil organic carbon composition and degradation under warming. PloS One 10(6), e0130557. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130557
  21. Herndon EM, Jin L, Andrews DM, Eissenstat DM, and Brantley SL† (2015) Importance of vegetation for manganese cycling in temperate forested watersheds. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 29(2), 160-174. DOI: 10.1002/2014GB004858
  22. Newman BD†, Throckmorton HM, Graham DE, Gu B, Hubbard SS, Liang L, Wu Y, Heikoop JM, Herndon EM, Phelps TJ, Wilson CJ, and Wullschleger SD (2015) Microtopographic and depth controls on active layer chemistry in Arctic polygonal ground. Geophys. Res. Lett. 42, 1808-1817. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062804
  23. Kraepiel A†, Dere AL, Herndon EM and Brantley SL (2015) Natural and anthropogenic processes contributing to metal enrichment in surface soils of central Pennsylvania. Biogeochemistry 123, 265-283. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-015-0068-5
  24. Roy Chowdhury T, Herndon EM, Phelps TJ, Elias DA, Gu B, Liang L, Wullschleger S, and Graham DE† (2015)Stoichiometry and temperature sensitivity of methanogenesis and CO2 production from saturated polygonal tundra in Barrow, Alaska. Global Change Biology 21(2), 722-737. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12762
  25. Herndon EM, Martínez CE, and Brantley SL† (2014) Spectroscopic (XANES/XRF) characterization of contaminant manganese cycling in a temperate watershed. Biogeochemistry 121, 505-517. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-014-0018-7
  26. Ma L, Konter J, Herndon E, Jin L, Steinhoefel G, Sanchez D, and Brantley SL† (2014) Quantifying an early signature of the industrial revolution from lead concentrations and isotopes in soils of Pennsylvania, USA. Anthropocene 7, 16-29.  doi:10.1016/j.ancene.2014.12.003
  27. Herndon EM and Brantley SL† (2011) Movement of manganese contamination through the Critical Zone. Appl. Geochem 26, S40-S43. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2011.03.024
  28. Brantley SL†, Megonigal JP, Scatena FN, Balogh‐Brunstad Z, Barnes RT, Bruns MA, Van Cappellen P, Dontsova K, Hartnett HE, Hartshorn AS, Heimsath A, Herndon E, Jin L, Keller CK, Leake JR, McDowell WH, Meinzer FC, Mozdzer TJ, Petsch S, Pett-Ridge J, Pregitzer KS, Raymond PA, Reibe CS, Shumaker K, Sutton-Grier A, Walter R, and Yoo K (2011) Twelve testable hypotheses on the geobiology of weathering. Geobiology 9(2), 140-165. 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x
  29. Herndon EM, Jin L, and Brantley SL† (2011) Soils reveal widespread manganese enrichment from industrial inputs. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45(1), 241-247. DOI: 10.1021/es102001w

Editor-reviewed Publications

  1. Kumar, P., Herndon, E., and Richter, D. (2020) Critical agents of change at Earth’s surface. Eos, 101,
  2. Herndon, E.M. (2018) News and Views: Permafrost slowly exhales methane. Nature Climate Change 8, 273-274. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0129-6. Invited.
  3. Herndon, E.M. (2016) Perspectives: Tips to help chemists achieve a work-life balance. Chemical and Engineering News 94(27): 30-31. Invited.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.