Research Interests

My primary research focus is centered around examining groundwater-surface water interactions.  This exchange can deliver significant quantities of nutrients, trace metals, and contaminants to the coastal ocean, lakes, rivers, and wetlands.  I am interested in developing and applying techniques to resolve driving forces and mechanisms of this interaction as well as quantifying fluxes.  I am particularly interested in applying naturally-occurring radioisotopic tracers to study this exchange process in a number of unique settings, such as deep ocean settings.  Other research interests include applying natural radiotracers to a multitude of environmental processes including particle transport and atmospheric deposition. 

Active Research Projects

  1. Hydrology and Pollutant Removal Performance in Detention Ponds Typical of the Lower Coastal Plain of South Carolina (2014 - 2016) - Funded by South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
  2. Water Level and Salinity Variability Drivers in Singleton Swash, Horry County, South Carolina (2012 - 2014) - Funded by Horry County
  3. LTER: Georgia Coastal Ecosystems III (2012 - 2018) - Funded by the National Science Foundation
  4. Long Bay Hypoxia Monitoring Consortium: 2nd Avenue North Pier, Cherry Grove Pier, and Apache Pier (2011 - 2017) - Funded by the cities of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach as well as Horry County
  5. Determining the Role of Estuarine 'Swashes' on Water Quality Impairment Along the Grand Strand of South Carolina: Impacts of Land Use and Stormwater Runoff (2010 - 2013) - Funded by NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative
  6. Collaborative Research: Development of a Submersible, Autonomous Rn-222 Survey System (2010 - 2014) - Funded by the National Science Foundation

Most Recent Publications (see CV for complete list)

  1. Hutchins, P., Smith, E.K., Koepfler, E., Viso, R.F., and Peterson, R.N., 2013.  Metabolic responses of estuarine microbial communities to discharge of surface runoff and groundwater from contrasting landscapes.  Estuaries and Coasts, accepted.
  2. Peterson, R.N., J.C. Breier, L.R. Harmon, J. Brusa, and P.R. Hutchins, 2013.  Development of a sparging chamber for field radon analysis.  Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, in press.
  3. Peterson, R.N., R.F. Viso, I.R. MacDonald, and S.B. Joye, 2013.  On the utility of radium isotopes as tracers of hydrocarbon discharge.  Marine Chemistry, 156 (1), 98-107.
  4. Peterson, R.N., W.C. Burnett, S.P. Opsahl, I.R. Santos, S. Misra, and P.N. Froelich, 2013.  Tracking suspended particle transport via radium isotopes (226Ra and 228Ra) through the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system.  Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 116, 65-75.
  5. Burnett, W.C., R.N. Peterson, S. Chanyotha, G. Wattayakorn, and B. Ryan, 2012.  Using high-resolution in-situ radon measurements to determine groundwater discharge at a remote location: Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.  Journal of Nuclear and Radiochemistry, 293(1), 97-103. 
  6. El-Gamal, A.A., R.N. Peterson, and W.C. Burnett, 2012.  Detecting seasonal freshwater and nutrient loadings via groundwater inputs to Marina Lagoon, Egypt.  Estuaries and Coasts, 35 (6), 1486-1499.
  7. Sanger, D. M., E. M. Smith, G. Voulgaris, E. T. Koepfler, S. M. Libes, G. H. M. Riekerk, D. C. Bergquist, D. I. Greenfield, P. Ansley Wren, C. A. McCoy, R. F. Viso, R. N. Peterson, and J. D. Whitaker, 2012.  Constrained enrichment contributes to hypoxia formation in Long Bay, South Carolina, an open water urbanized coastline.  Marine Ecology Progress Series, 461, 15-30.
  8. Povinec, P.P., W.C. Burnett, A. Beck, H. Bokuniewicz, M. Charette, M.E. Gonneea, M. Groening, T. Ishitobi, E. Kontar, L. Liong Wee Kwong, D.E.P. Marie, W.S. Moore, J.A. Oberdorfer, R. Peterson, R. Ramessur, J. Rapaglia, T. Stieglitz, and Z. Top, 2011.  Isotopic, geophysical and biogeochemical investigation of submarine groundwater discharge: IAEA-UNESCO intercomparison exercise at Mauritius Island.  Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, in press.
  9. Santos, I.R., W.C. Burnett, S. Misra, I.G.N.A. Suryaputra, J. Chanton, T. Dittmar, R.N. Peterson, and P.W. Swarzenski, 2011.  Uranium and barium cycling in a salt wedge subterranean estuary: The influence of tidal pumping.  Chemical Geology, 287 (1-2), 114-123.
  10. McCoy, C.A., R.F. Viso, R.N. Peterson, S. Libes, B. Lewis, J.G. Ledoux, G. Voulgaris, E. Smith, and D. Sanger, 2011.  Radon as an indicator of limited cross-shelf mixing and submarine groundwater discharge in a coastal embayment along the South Atlantic Bight.  Continental Shelf Research, 31 (12), 1306-1317.

* underline indicates student author

Courses Taught

  1. Hydrogeology - MSCI416/516
  2. Applications in Isotope Geochemistry - CMSS642
  3. Linking Biology and Geomorphology in Coastal Wetlands (and Other Habitats) - CMSS787