Allan Kolker


Allan Kolker is a Research Geologist at the USGS Eastern Energy Resources Science Center in Reston, VA.    His expertise in geochemistry of coal, and trace-element geochemistry, is used in studies of coal quality, toxic inorganic substances in the environment, and human health effects from energy resources and use.  He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and serves on the editorial board of the international journalApplied Geochemistry, and on the board of Environmental Geochemistry and Health.  He earned his Ph.D. in geochemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and served on the geology faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln prior to joining the USGS in 1996.

Allan Kolker combines expertise in geochemistry of coal, and trace-element geochemistry, to address diverse energy-related environmental problems.  His interests span the range from how elements such as mercury and arsenic occur in coal, and how they are re-distributed during coal combustion, to what happens to mercury once it is emitted from the stack (and other sources), and where it ends up in the environment.  This has led to an exceptional assortment of geochemical sampling approaches that has included, in various studies, rock, soil, coal, coal ash, plant material, surface water, ground water, precipitation, atmospheric particulate matter, and human subjects. 

Recent professional activities include a chapter on mercury and halogens in coal in a 2015 book  on mercury control in combustion systems, and invitations to participate as a lecturer to academic audiences and policy makers.  A 2012 paper published in the International Journal of Coal Geology summarizes nearly 15 years of USGS investigation of trace constituents in Fe-sulfides present in coal.  Allan has supervised two USGS Mendenhall postdocs and recent studies have greatly benefitted from these associations.  He has also developed research collaboration between the USGS and the United Nations Environment Program to investigate mercury in international coals.  He serves on the editorial board of the international journal Applied Geochemistry, and co-edited a 2008 special issue of the journal on transport and fate of mercury in the environment.  He also serves on the editorial board of Environmental Geochemistry and Health, and maintains an active interest in studies that span geochemistry and human health.  Allan has served as the Chair of the Geological Society of America - Coal Geology Division, and was elected a Fellow of the Society in 2002. He has led two outside-funded USGS sampling visits to Ukraine, to address coal quality and human health issues there.  Dr. Kolker serves actively on committees pertaining to coal and the environment, and in arranging relevant topical sessions at professional meetings, including an upcoming workshop on trace elements in coal at the 35th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prior to joining the USGS, Dr. Kolker served on the geology faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he supervised graduate work, taught a graduate geochemistry class, and nearly 2,000 undergraduates, primarily in introductory Physical Geology.  Prior to arriving in Lincoln, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he used high energy synchrotron radiation at the National Synchrotron Light Source to study the micro-distribution of trace-elements in coal.  This followed dissertation work in high temperature geochemistry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Allan credits his experience at Stony Brook with enabling him to treat coal as a geochemical system.











Kolker, Allan, Senior, Constance, van Alphen, Chris, Koenig, Alan, and Geboy, Nick, 2016, Mercury and trace element distribution in density separates of a South African Highveld (#4) coal: Implications for mercury reduction and preparation of coal for export: International Journal of Coal Geology.

Kolker, Allan, 2016, Mercury in U.S. Coal- Priorities for New USGS Studies: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report, in press.

Deonarine, A., Kolker, A., Doughten, M., Bailoo, J.D., and Holland, J.T., Arsenic speciation in bituminous coal fly ash and transformations in response to redox conditions: Submitted to Environmental Science and Technology.

Kolker, Allan, and Quick, Jeffrey C., 2015, Mercury and halogens in coal, in, Granite, E., Senior, C., and Pennline, H., eds., Mercury control for coal-derived gas steams, Wiley-VCH, p. 13-44.

Kurth, Laura, Kolker, Allan, Engle, Mark, Geboy, Nicholas, Hendryx, Michael, Orem, William, McCawley, Michael, Crosby, Lynn, Tatu, Calin, Varonka, Matthew, and DeVera, Christina, 2015, Atmospheric Particulate Matter in Proximity to Mountaintop Coal Mines: Sources and Potential Environmental and Human Health Impacts : Environmental Geochemistry and Health,

Deonarine, Amrika, Kolker, Allan, and Doughten, Michael, 2015, Trace elements in coal ash: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015-3037, 6 p. [Link]

Kolker, Allan, Senior, Constance, and van Alphen, Chris, 2014, Collaborative studies for mercury characterization in coal and coal combustion products, Republic of South Africa: U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2014-1153, 46 p. [2016 revision in press].

Conko, Kathryn M., Landa, Edward R., Kolker, Allan, Kozlov, Kostiantyn, Gibb, Herman J., Centeno, José A., Panov, Boris S., and Panov, Yuri B., 2013, Arsenic and mercury in the soils of an industrial city in the Donets Basin, Ukraine: Soil and Sediment Contamination An International Journal, v. 22, p. 574-593.

Kolker, Allan, Engle, Mark A., Peuker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard, Geboy, N. J., Krabbenhoft, D.P., Bothner, M.H., and Tate, M.T., Atmospheric mercury and fine particulate matter at Woods Hole, Cape Cod, MA: Implications for mercury and trace element sources in the northeastern U.S.: Atmospheric Environment, v. 79, p. 760-768 .

Engle, Mark A., Radke, Lawrence F., Heffern, Edward L., O’Keefe, Jennifer M.K., Hower, James C., Smeltzer, Charles D., Hower, Judith M, Olea, Ricardo A., Eatwell, Robert J., Blake, Donald R., Emsbo-Mattingly, Stephen D., Stout, Scott A., Queen, Gerald, Aggen, Kerry L., Kolker, Allan, Prakash, Anupma, Henke, Kevin R., Stracher, Glenn B., Schroeder, Paul A., Román-Colón, Yomayra, and ter Schure, Arnout, 2012, Gas emissions, minerals, and tars associated with three coal fires, Powder River Basin, USA: Science of the Total Environment, v. 420, p. 146-159.

Kolker, Allan, 2012, Minor element distribution in iron-disulfides in coal: A geochemical review: International Journal of Coal Geology, v. 94, p. 32-43.

Kolker, Allan, Quick, J.C., Senior, C.L., and Belkin, H.E., 2012, Mercury and halogens in coal: Their role in determining mercury emissions from coal combustion: USGS Fact Sheet 2012-3122, 6 p. [Link]

Gibb, H.J., Haver, Cary, Kozlov, Kostj, Centeno, Jose, Jurgenson, Vera, Kolker, Allan, Conko, Kathryn, Landa, Edward, and Xu, Hanna, 2011, Biomarkers of mercury exposure in two eastern Ukraine cities:Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, v. 8, p. 187-193.

Engle, M.A.., Radke, L., Heffern, E.L., O’Keefe, J.M.K., Smeltzer, C., Hower, J.C., Hower, J.M., Prakash, A., Kolker, A., Eatwell, R., ter Schure, A., Queen, G., Aggen, K., Stracher, G.B., Henke, K., Olea, R., and Román-Colón, Y., 2011, Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from coal fires using airborne and ground-based methods: International Journal of Coal Geology, v. 88, p. 147-151.

Engle, M.A., Tate, M., Krabbenhoft, D.P., Olson, M., Schauer, J.J., Kolker, A., Shanley, J., and Bothner, M.H., 2010, Comparison of mercury speciation and deposition at nine sites across Central and Eastern North America, Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres, D18306, 13 p.

Bunnell, J. E., Garcia, L. V., Furst, J. M., Lerch, Harry, Olea, R.A., Suitt, S.E., and Kolker, Allan, 2010, Navajo coal combustion and respiratory health near Shiprock, New Mexico: Journal of Environmental and Public Health, v. 2010, #260525, 14 p.

Kolker, Allan, Olson, M. L., Krabbenhoft, D. P., Tate, M. T., and Engle, M. A., 2010, Patterns of mercury dispersion from local and regional emission sources in rural Central Wisconsin, USA: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, v. 10, p. 4467-4476.

Orem, W.H., Tatu, Calin, Pavlovic, Nikola, Bunnell, J. E., Kolker, Allan, Engle, M.A., and Stout, Ben, 2010, Health Effects of Energy Resources, USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3096, 5 p. [Link]

Kolker, Allan, Engle, M.E., Stracher, Glenn, Hower, James, Prakash, Anupma, Radke, Lawrence, ter Schure, Arnout, and Heffern, Edward, 2009, Emissions from coal fires and their impact on the environment: USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3084, 4 p. [Link]

Kolker, Allan, Panov, B. S. , Panov,Y. B., Landa, E. R., Korchemagin, V. A., Conko, K. M., Shendrik, Tatiana, and McCord, J.D., 2009, Mercury and trace element contents of Donbas coals and associated mine water in the vicinity of Donetsk, Ukraine: International Journal of Coal Geology, v. 79, p. 83-91.

Kolker, Allan, Engle, M. A., Orem, W. H., Bunnell, J. E., Lerch, H. E., Krabbenhoft, D. P., Olson, M. L., DeWild, J. F., and McCord, J. D., 2008, Mercury, trace elements, and organic constituents in atmospheric fine particulate matter, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA: A combined approach to sampling and analysis: Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, v. 32, no. 3, p. 279-293.

Gibb, H. J., Kozlov, Kostj, Buckley, J.P., Centeno, J., Jurgenson, V., Kolker, Allan, Conko, K. M., Landa, E. R., Panov, B. S., Panov, Y. B, and Xu, H., 2008, Biomarkers of mercury exposure at a mercury recycling facility in Ukraine: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, v. 5, p. 483-489.

Engle, M. A., Tate, M. T., Krabbenhoft, D. P., Kolker, Allan, Olson, M. L., Edgerton, E. S., DeWild, J. F., and McPherson, A. K., 2008, Characterization and cycling of atmospheric mercury along the central U.S. Gulf Coast: Applied Geochemistry, v. 23, #3, p. 419-437.

Kolker, Allan, Engle, M. A., Krabbenhoft, D. P., and Olson, M. L., 2007, Investigating atmospheric mercury with the USGS Mobile Mercury Laboratory: USGS Fact Sheet FS 2007-3071, 4 p. [Link]

Kolker, Allan and Huggins, F.E., 2007, Progressive oxidation of pyrite in five bituminous coal samples: An As XANES and 57Fe Mössbauer study: Applied Geochemistry, v. 22, p. 778-787

Kolker, Allan, Senior, C. L., and Quick, J. C., 2006, Mercury in coal and the impact of coal quality on mercury emissions from combustion systems: Applied Geochemistry, v. 21, p. 1821-1836

Kolker, Allan, Palmer, C. A., Bragg, L. J., and Bunnell, J. E., 2005, Arsenic in coal: USGS Fact Sheet FS-2005-3152, 4 pages. [Link]

Kolker, Allan, Mose, D.G., Spitzer, Shane, and East, J.A., 2005, Expanding the Mercury Deposition Network in Virginia and the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2005-3123, 4 pages. [Link]

Kolker, Allan, Haack, S. K., Cannon, W. F., Westjohn, D. B., Kim, M.-J., Nriagu, J., and Woodruff, L. G., 2003, Arsenic in southeastern Michigan: in Welch, A. H., and Stollenwerk, K. G., eds., Arsenic in Ground Water, Geochemistry and Occurrence, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 488 p.

Huggins, F. E., Huffman, G. P., Kolker, Allan, Mroczkowski, S. J., Palmer, C. A., and Finkelman, R. B., 2002, Combined application of XAFS spectroscopy and sequential leaching for determination of arsenic speciation in coal: Energy and Fuels, v. 16, no. 5, p. 1167-1172.

Kolker, Allan, Palmer, C.A., Crowley, S.S., Finkelman, R.B., Huggins, F.E., Shah, Noresh, and Huffman, G.P., 2000, Mode of occurrence of arsenic in four U.S. coals: Fuel Processing Technology, v. 63, p. 167-178.

Huggins, F.E., Shah, N., Huffman, G.P., Kolker, Allan, Crowley, S.S., Palmer, C.A., and Finkelman, R. B., 2000, Mode of occurrence of chromium in four U.S. coals: Fuel Processing Technology, v. 63, p. 79-92.