Date of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geological Engineering

Committee Chair

Chris Gammons

First Advisor

Katie Hailer

Second Advisor

Robert Pal


Phytoremediation is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method of using plants to remediate soils and groundwater by extracting and accumulating contaminants in their tissues. Using locally adapted native plants is preferable to non-native species due to native species being accustomed to the environmental conditions allowing for increased plant growth and fitness. It is typical to use hyperaccumulator plant species since they will grow in soils with very high concentrations of metals and metalloids and show efficient ability to recover (phytoextraction potential) and accumulate (bioconcentration factor) the contaminants in its tissues.

This study focuses on using thirteen locally adapted native plant species and two non-native species to remediate soil and a shallow alluvial aquifer contaminated by historic mining practices in Butte, MT. A controlled greenhouse experiment using soil and groundwater from the North Side Tailings in the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit was performed to test what plant species can tolerate the metal(loid)s present. Each species phytoextraction potential (PE%) and bioconcentration factor (BCF) was compared to a known hyperaccumulator Cannabis sativa, which shows the best metal(loid) tolerance, PE%, and BCF. One native species, Artemisia ludoviciana, showed similar tolerance and ability to accumulate and recover Cu, Mn, and Zn to Cannabis sativa, but its total recovery was 1-19 times worse. Whereas comparing the other test species showed a significantly different and worse ability tolerate, accumulate, and recover the contaminants. Future research should be done to investigate the plants ability to accumulate and recover contaminants in its root system and compare the greenhouse experiment to a field study. 3 Since hemp fiber is widely used in industrial manufacturing, further research to understand how hemp fiber quality is impacted when used concurrently for remediation and industrial purposes is important.


Non-thesis project i partial fulfillment of a Master of Science