The Department of Geosciences presents

Geology Open Night

Fall 2016



The effects of acid rain on Long Island’s ecosystems

Gilbert N. Hanson

7:30 PM Friday
September 23, 2016
ESS 001


William Holt

7:30 PM Friday
October 7, 2016
ESS 001



7:30 PM Friday
November 18, 2016
ESS 001



Earth and Space Sciences Building 
Lecture Hall (Room 001)
SUNY Stony Brook Campus

There will be Refreshments after the Geology Open Night Presentations.

Admission is Free!!

Link here to be placed on the mail or e-mail list to receive announcements.

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?

Geology Open night lectures are usually on topics in the geosciences related to the current research of the faculty, staff and students at SUNY Stony Brook. These presentations are intended for:

  • those interested in new developments in the sciences

  • earth science high school students and teachers

  • undergraduate and graduate students in geosciences

  • professional geologists

One hour toward professional development is available for teachers and professional geologists attending the Geology Open Night lectures.


The effects of acid rain on Long Island’s ecosystems

Gilbert N. Hanson
7:30 PM Friday September 23

ESS 001
 Stony Brook University

Westerly winds bring emissions from vehicular traffic and power plants to Long island. These emissions include nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which create acid rain. Unpolluted rain has a pH of 5.6. In the 1950’s acid rain was already present when precipitation on Long Island had a pH of about 4.8; pH continued to decrease and was about 4.3 by the mid 1980’s; as a result of clean air legislation the pH of precipitation has increased to about 4.6.

When acid rain infiltrates the soil, hydrogen ions replace the base cations (Ca, Mg, K and Na) on exchangeable sites on soil particles. At the same time, they react with insoluble Al(OH)3 in the soil producing soluble aluminum ions. Exchangeable base cations in the soil are plant nutrients. Soluble aluminum in the soil is a poison to plants. Thus, the effect of the acid rain is to remove plant nutrients and to make poison available to the plants. The results are that plants less sensitive to acid soil conditions are replacing plants that are more sensitive to acid soil conditions. Before acid rain, the soil in Long Island’s forests was acidic with a pH of about 4.5 (using 0.01 m CaCl2). Presently, the forest soil has a pH of about 3 at the surface increasing to about 4.5 at a depth of about 50 cm. In this presentation, I will discuss the effects of acid rain on soil and the natural ecosystems on Long Island.  

Dr. Hanson,  a distinguished service professor in the Department of Geosciences, has been interested in the geology and environmental problems of Long Island for the last couple of decades. High school students, earth science education students, earth science teachers and MS in Geosciences students carried out this research.

Selected Links 

Learning about Acid Rain

Atmospheric Dust and Acid Rain

Impact of Acid Rain and Fire on Soil pH in Dwarf Pine Plains, Long Island, New York

Organic Sorption and Cation Exchange Capacity  of  Glacial Sand, Long Island

Study of Soil pH in a Woodland at Stony Brook University

The Change in Soil Acidity on the North Shore of Long Island, New York: Using Depth as a Window into the Past

The effect of road salt on soil pH

The Effect of Fires On Soil pH in the Long Island Pine Barrens

Consistent Soil pH with depth of Pre-Acid Rain Soil 

A Study of Soil pH and Effects on Vegetation: Locust Valley and Stony Brook University




You may also be interested in the following lectures:
Astronomy Open Night,

The World of Physics and
The Living World
These lectures are usually held in ESS 001 at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays during the academic year.

Professional Development letters are available for teachers and geologists for attending these lectures.

Web pages describing earlier Geology Open Night presentations

Spring 1998Fall 1998, Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Fall 2000, Spring 2001,
Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2003Spring 2004, Fall 2004,
Spring 2005, Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Fall 2007, Spring 2008,
Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011,
Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
Fall 2015
, Spring 2016


There will be Refreshments after the Presentations.

Admission is FREE!

Presentations are in Room 001 ESS Building SUNY Stony Brook

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?