Impact of the 2009 Station Fire on Trace Elements and Aquatic Life

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Erin Stutzman


The purpose of this study was to look beyond surface level effects of wildfires on water quality such as suspended sediments and to look into whether an increased level of trace elements introduced by wildfire in stormflow water can harm aquatic life. The data was collected from the 2009 station fire in the Angeles National Forest with water quality samples from 13 locations inside and outside of the burn area along with soil samples from burned soil. The water and soil was tested for arsenic, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, and zinc and the data was matched to criteria for whether concentrations could harm aquatic organisms. Our data showed that several increased trace elements such as copper, lead, nickel, and selenium were elevated due to storms, while iron, manganese, and mercury had elevated amounts due to the station fire. The study found that iron, lead, nickel, and zinc levels were above tolerable levels for aquatic life.

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