Prosper Gbolo

Prosper Gbolo is a PhD Candidate in the University of North Dakota’s Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering. Prosper Gbolo started his education in Ghana and continued at the University of Ghana, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Geology. He enrolled in the Ohio University’s Geological Sciences’ program to further his knowledge in surface and groundwater problems and how to manage those resources. In 2008, Prosper received a Master of Science (MS) degree in Geological Sciences at Ohio University. He worked with Professor Dina Lopez as a student researcher in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program. Prosper’s present research is focused on the transformation, mobilization, and sequestration of phosphorus within an abandoned feedlot in the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge near Crookston, Minnesota.


The Cycling, Fate, And Quantification of Nutrients at an Abandoned Feedlot

Fellow: Prosper Gbolo

Advisor: Phil Gerla, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering, University of North Dakota.

Degree Progress: PhD in Geology and Geological Engineering; expected graduation in spring 2014.

Research Synopsis:

Nutrients are chemical species that play important roles in soils, water, and living organisms, and are transformed from one species to another through different biogeochemical processes and cycles. Currently, there are research gaps in the cycle, mobility, speciation, and sequestration of P in different environments. Nutrient quantification in runoff and nutrient leaching in groundwater systems have received attention lately. In view of this, this research examines the P cycle within a sandy ridge and adjacent wetlands. This study will analyze groundwater, soils, surface water, plant tissues, and microorganisms as part of a larger study to test the hypothesis that when P is transported by runoff, it is sequestered and immobilized, with increasing abundance in wetlands.

Project Objectives:


The project is in its third year and the site has been instrumented with nested wells and soil pore-water samplers for monitoring groundwater nutrient. Grab soil samples and plant biomass have been sampled during 2012 summer, but more sampling will be done during 2013 summer to determine more thoroughly constrain nutrient variability. Drought conditions experienced in summer 2012 limited groundwater sampling; additional sampling will be carried out during 2013 for water quality analysis and nutrient modeling. A manuscript has been submitted and accepted for publication in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). A second paper is in review. 

Research Outcomes:

  1. Gbolo, P., and Gerla, P., “Nutrient variability in soils and plants in an abandoned cattle feedlot”, North Dakota /South Dakota Engineering Research Summit (Brookings, SD - April 2013).
  2. Gbolo, P., and Gerla, P., 2013. Statistical analysis to characterize transport of nutrients in groundwater near an abandoned feedlot. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 10:1553-1579. Available at:
  3. Gbolo, P., and Gerla, P., “Assessing the Effects of Groundwater and Soil Nutrients on Vegetation Indices”, ND EPSCoR Conference, Alerus Center (Grand Forks, ND - 2012).
  4. Gbolo, P., and Gerla, P., “Ground conditions and the fate of nutrients at the former Crookston Cattle Company”, North Dakota Academy of Science Meeting (Bismarck, ND - March 2012), and the University of North Dakota Scholarly Forum (Grand Forks, 2012). Available at: (pg. 8).


This research will bridge some of the research gaps concerning nutrient pathways in surface and subsurface systems, and the relationship between nutrients, organic matter, soil physiochemical properties, and some trace elements. Result of this research will benefit feedlot management and mitigate pollution, and also help guide the development of regulations for protecting surface and groundwater quality without excessively restricting animal production.


Dr. Philip Gerla


Associate Professor
Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering
Leonard Hall 213
University of North Dakota