Associate Professor Adam Hartland

Adam Hartland

Associate Professor

Qualifications: BSc(Hons), PhD Birmingham, Rutherford Discovery Fellow

Personal Website:

About Adam

Research area

Research in my group (Waikato Environmental Geochemistry (WEG)) spans systems and topic areas, but focusses primarily on the role of nanoparticles and organic matter in modifying trace element and nutrient behavior in low-temperature aqueous environments.

Mineralogy in particular is a discipline that has tended to neglect these intermediate phases (between solids and solutes) and their role in governing substitution reactions (e.g. where ions are replaced in the crystal lattice by foreign but compatible ions). Our research explores this frontier in particular with view to developing new proxies for past environments and climate states.

Technical Innovation

WEG research has produced several new technical solutions to improve environmental sampling and laboratory experimentation. For example, with the SYP autosampler, we have developed the first, robust and fully automated water sampler for cave environments. The Geological Microclimate system (GeoMic): a climate controlled box for geochemical experiments, was developed by our group with JGU colleagues, for precise experiments examining mineral formation and dissolution processes.

While much of our research is Waikato and NZ-based, our cave research takes us to diverse environments from the Southern Alps to the tropical Pacific. Waikato's unique location in the southern mid-latitudes provides the opportunity to understand key parts of the global climate system, such as the Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds and El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

I welcome enquiries from motivated students with backgrounds in Earth science, chemistry, bioscience, or engineering.

Research Publications

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

Research supervision as Chief Supervisor


  • White, Jackson (2019) Condensation corrosion of Glowworm Cave, Waitomo (THL research award)


  • Lindeman, Ingrid (2020) Trace element incorporation in calcite under karst analogue conditions (UoW scholarship)


  • Guo, Lily (2019) In situ measurement of metal-ligand dissociation rates in cave waters (Rutherford Fellowship)
  • Eager, Chris (2017) Alum dosing of lake tributaries in the Bay of Plenty region (UoW scholarship).


  • Hoepker, Sebastian (in progress). Palaeoclimatic cave drip rates quantified from stalagmite trace metals (UOW Doctoral Scholarship).
  • Perera, Gimhani (in progress). Engineering denitrifying bioreactors to enhance phosphorus removal (MBIE Endeavor Fund).
  • Pearson, Andrew (2020). The terrestrial carbon cycle in transition: tracking changes using novel tracers on multiple timescales (Marsden Fast-Start)
  • Saeed, Huma (2022). Redox cycling of macro and micro-nutrients in a monomictic lake (ERI Scholarship).
  • Mohammadi, Amir (submitted). From soil to groundwater: assessing the leaching potential of cadmium across gradients of soil type and land-use (UOW Doctoral Scholarship).

Research Interests

Understanding environmental nanoparticles

My research focuses on the interaction between environmental nanoparticles and trace elements in soil, water and minerals.

Dissolved organic ligands and colloids are key controls on trace elements in most aquatic settings. For example, we are studying the controls on metal incorporation into cave minerals, or the regulation of nutrient bioavailability by iron nanoparticles.

Minerals as environmental and climatic archives

Minerals, such as this stalagmite (left), are fascinating because they conserve information about their environments of formation through trace elements, isotopes and by sequestering organic molecules from their surroundings. These natural archives can allow us to address all sorts of interesting questions about the Earth, both in modern systems and ancient palaeoclimates. Find out more about our cave research on RNZ Our Changing World.

Mitigating pollution 

WEG researchers combine techniques from geochemistry and environmental chemistry, such as DGT, for the tracking of environmental contaminants (right). We are actively developing tools for the monitoring of pollutants in soil and water, as well as optimising mitigation technologies to reduce the impact of agriculture on freshwater ecosystems.

Environmental tracers

Isotope ratios are a key tool in geoscience. Our research group applies isotopes to enrich our understanding of processes, identify sources and un-mix inputs in different systems and settings. For example, our research on cadmium (Cd) isotope ratios in agricultural systems has provided an improved understanding on Cd leaching rates. Similarly to isotopes, organic fluorescence is a complementary method to rapidly screen organic inputs in water, e.g. sewage derived inputs to aquifers. Fluorescence is widely applicable, for example, in elucidating the trophic status of lakes through time, or in identifying aerosol deposition in Antarctic ice (an ongoing collaboration with researchers at the Antarctic Research Centre).

Recent Publications

  • Braun, T., Fernandez, C. N., Eroglu, D., Hartland, A., Breitenbach, S. F. M., & Marwan, N. (2022). Sampling rate-corrected analysis of irregularly sampled time series. Physical Review E, 105(2). doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.105.024206

  • Corbett, T., Hartland, A., Henderson, W., Rys, G., & Schipper, L. A. (2022). The temperature and flow dependence of nitrate concentration and load estimates based on diffusive gradients in thin‐films. Journal of Environmental Quality. doi:10.1002/jeq2.20323

  • Mohammadi, A., Corbett, T., French, A., Lehto, N. J., Hadfield, J., Jarman, P., . . . Hartland, A. (2022). Application of diffusive gradients in thin films for monitoring groundwater quality. ACS ES&T Water. doi:10.1021/acsestwater.1c00279

  • Lindeman, I., Hansen, M., Scholz, D., Breitenbach, S. F. M., & Hartland, A. (2022). Effects of organic matter complexation on partitioning of transition metals into calcite: Cave-analogue crystal growth experiments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 317, 118-137. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2021.10.032

Find more research publications by Adam Hartland


Environmental Chemistry; Environmental Science and Technology; Geochemical Environment


Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: FG.3.04
Phone: +64 7 837 9390