Impacts of Dirt and Gravel Road Dust on Roadside Organic Forest Soils and Roadside Vegetation

Open Access
Brown, Wade E.
Graduate Program:
Forest Resources
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • William Edward Sharpe, Thesis Advisor
  • David Russell Dewalle, Thesis Advisor
  • Barry Earl Scheetz, Thesis Advisor
  • driving surface aggregate
  • dust
  • gravel
  • forest soils
Dirt and gravel roads are capable of producing large amounts of dust. This dust comes from aggregate that is placed on the road surface. Aggregate may be either derived from local Bald Eagle formation sandstone bedrock (native) or from imported limestone material. Dust transported to adjacent soils from the road aggregate may alter soil chemistry. The focus of the study reports on the effects of imported limestone driving surface aggregate (DSA) and native DSA dust on roadside organic forest soils and roadside vegetation in central PA. Organic roadside forest soils and vegetation were sampled along gravel roads with both types of aggregate for comparison. Results indicated that fugitive road dust altered roadside soil chemistry, no matter the type of driving surface. However, limestone DSA aggregate dust altered roadside soil chemistry significantly more than the native aggregate dust and may aid in the establishment of invasive and/or exotic plants along forested road corridors by increasing pH levels in the roadside organic forest soils.