Profile image of Ellen Moon

Dr Ellen Moon



Senior Lecturer, Environmental Engineering


Faculty of Sci Eng & Built Env


School of Engineering


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

+61 3 522 78656

Research interests

My research focusses on heavy metals in the environment: how they move through landscapes, the risk they pose, and how to clean them up.

My research combines

  • Field- and lab-based chemistry
  • Advanced spectroscopic and scattering techniques
  • Geochemical modelling

to understand the molecular-scale processes that underpin landscape-scale geochemistry. Research highlights include:

Mineral transformations in coastal acid sulfate soils

The formation and persistence of the meta-stable iron sulfide mineral greigite is an important step in the remediation of coastal acid sulfate soils, but the response of greigite to periods of oxygenation (for example, during a neap tide) is poorly understood. In this study, we employed X-ray absorption spectroscopy to identify the Fe and S speciation and mineralogy resulting from the oxidative disintegration of synthetic greigite under neap tide conditions. Results indicate divergent Fe and S mineralization pathways culminating in elemental sulfur and iron (hyr)oxide minerals. No sulfate-containing minerals were identified, and under all conditions tested, residual greigite remained. The oxidation products, and the presence of sulfur reducing bacteria, provide the right chemical environment for the reformation of greigite during the sub-oxic conditions of the rest of the tidal cycle. This likely explains the persistence of greigite in the intertidal zone, and implies that the oxidation of greigite is not detrimental to the long term stability of the acid sulfate soil remediation process.

Bushfires mobilize arsenic in Australian soils

Fires in iron-rich seasonal wetlands can thermally transform soil minerals and alter their crystallinity. However, the fate of As associated with thermally transformed iron minerals is unclear. We subjected As(V)-coprecipitated schwertmannite to thermal transformation (200-800 °C). Heating to >400 °C caused transformation of schwertmannite to a nanocrystalline hematite with greater surface area and smaller particle size. Higher temperatures also caused the initially structurally incorporated As to become progressively more exchangeable, increasing surface-complexed As by up to 60-fold, thereby triggering enhanced As mobilization upon reflooding. Further research is warranted to unravel the wider implications for water quality in natural wetlands.

Adapting uranium mineral processing circuits to tolerate seawater

Using X-ray absorption spectroscopy, we identified the mechanism by which chloride impacts the extraction of U(VI) by a weak base anion exchange resin from acidic sulfate solutions. The amount of chloride present affects U(VI) speciation both in the feed solutions and adsorbed by the resin, and we find three distinct U(VI) species taken up by the resin across the salinity gradient, directly corresponding to changes in levels of U(VI) extraction. These findings are integral to the effective design of mineral processing circuits incorporating seawater—a cheaper and more sustainable water source than fresh water.

Units taught

SET111 - Environmental Design

SEV201 - Environmental Health Engineering


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Identifying biochar production variables to maximise exchangeable cations and increase nutrient availability in soils

S Adhikari, E Moon, W Timms

(2024), Vol. 446, pp. 1-10, Journal of Cleaner Production, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Investigation on the suitability of aluminium-based water treatment sludge as a sustainable soil replacement for road construction

M Nguyen, A Baghbani, A Alnedawi, S Ullah, B Kafle, M Thomas, E Moon, N Milne

(2023), Vol. 12, Transportation Engineering, C1

journal article

Calcium Carbonate Prenucleation Cluster Pathway Observed via In Situ Small-Angle X-ray Scattering

Jonathan Avaro, Ellen Moon, Kai Schultz, Andrew Rose

(2023), Vol. 14, pp. 4517-4523, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Washington, D.C., C1

journal article

Phosphorus adsorption and organic release from dried and thermally treated water treatment sludge

Minh Nguyen, David Donaldson, Sirjana Adhikari, Negin Amini, Deepak Mallya, Michael Thomas, Ellen Moon, Nicholas Milne

(2023), Vol. 234, pp. 116524-116524, Environmental Research, Netherlands, C1

journal article

Investigation on removal of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) using water treatment sludge and biochar

Minh Nguyen, Anithadevi Sivaram, Mallavarapu Megharaj, Lawrence Webb, Sirjana Adhikari, Michael Thomas, Aravind Surapaneni, Ellen Moon, Nicholas Milne

(2023), Vol. 338, pp. 1-8, Chemosphere, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

RAFT Polymer-Based Surfactants for Minerals Recovery

Negin Amini, Bo Fan, Tina Hsia, Ellen Moon, Karen Hapgood, San Thang

(2023), Vol. 8, pp. 40532-40546, ACS Omega, United States, C1

journal article

Comparative analysis of biochar carbon stability methods and implications for carbon credits

Sirjana Adhikari, Ellen Moon, Jorge Paz-Ferreiro, Wendy Timms

(2023), pp. 1-41, Science of the Total Environment, Amsterdam, Netherlands, C1

journal article

Selecting Environmental Water Tracers to Understand Groundwater around Mines: Opportunities and Limitations

D Kurukulasuriya, W Howcroft, E Moon, K Meredith, W Timms

(2022), Vol. 41, pp. 357-369, Mine Water and the Environment, Berlin, Germany, C1

journal article

Beneficial reuse of water treatment sludge in the context of circular economy

M Nguyen, M Thomas, A Surapaneni, E Moon, N Milne

(2022), Vol. 28, pp. 1-14, Environmental Technology and Innovation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Reuse of aluminium-based water treatment sludge for phosphorus adsorption: Evaluating the factors affecting and correlation between adsorption and sludge properties

M Nguyen, S Adhikari, D Mallya, M Thomas, A Surapaneni, E Moon, N Milne

(2022), Vol. 27, pp. 1-11, Environmental Technology and Innovation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Water tracer technologies to detect sources of seepage and protect environmental assets

Wendy Timms, Devmi Kurukulasuriya, Bill Howcroft, Ellen Moon, Karina Meredith

(2021), pp. 167-176, Proceedings of the Resource Operators 2021 Conference, Wollongong, Australia, E1


Insights on uranium uptake mechanisms by ion exchange resins with chelating functionalities: Chelation vs. anion exchange

J Amphlett, S Choi, S Parry, E Moon, C Sharrad, M Ogden

(2020), Vol. 392, Chemical Engineering Journal, C1

journal article

Calcium coordination environment in precursor species to calcium carbonate mineral formation

J Avaro, E Moon, J Rose, A Rose

(2019), Vol. 259, pp. 344-357, Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

REE behavior and sorption on weak acid resins from buffered media

J Bezzina, M Ogden, E Moon, K Soldenhoff

(2018), Vol. 59, pp. 440-455, Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Dissolution and redistribution of trace elements and nutrients during dredging of iron monosulfide enriched sediments

G Choppala, E Moon, R Bush, N Bolan, N Carroll

(2018), Vol. 201, pp. 380-387, Chemosphere, England, C1-1

journal article

Application of chelating weak base resin Dowex M4195 to the recovery of uranium from mixed sulfate/chloride media

M Ogden, E Moon, A Wilson, S Pepper

(2017), Vol. 317, pp. 80-89, Chemical Engineering Journal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Oxidative transformation of iron monosulfides and pyrite in estuarine sediments: Implications for trace metals mobilisation

G Choppala, R Bush, E Moon, N Ward, Z Wang, N Bolan, L Sullivan

(2017), Vol. 186, pp. 158-166, Journal of Environmental Management, England, C1-1

journal article

Divergent Fe and S mineralization pathways during the oxidative transformation of greigite, Fe₃S₄

E Moon, R Bush, D Gibbs, J Mata

(2017), Vol. 468, pp. 42-48, Chemical Geology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Impact of chloride on uranium(VI) speciation in acidic sulfate ion exchange systems: towards seawater-tolerant mineral processing circuits

E Moon, M Ogden, C Griffith, A Wilson, J Mata

(2017), Vol. 51, pp. 255-263, Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Ecological restoration of a severely degraded coastal acid sulfate soil: a case study of the East Trinity wetland, Queensland

H Luke, M Martens, E Moon, D Smith, N Ward, R Bush

(2017), Vol. 18, pp. 103-114, Ecological Management and Restoration, Richmond, Vic., C1-1

journal article

Arsenic Mobilization Is Enhanced by Thermal Transformation of Schwertmannite

S Johnston, E Burton, E Moon

(2016), Vol. 50, pp. 8010-8019, Environmental Science and Technology, United States, C1-1

journal article

Towards an understanding of thallium isotope fractionation during adsorption to manganese oxides

S Nielsen, L Wasylenki, M Rehkämper, C Peacock, Z Xue, E Moon

(2013), Vol. 117, pp. 252-265, Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Modelling Cu(II) adsorption to ferrihydrite and ferrihydrite-bacteria composites: deviation from additive adsorption in the composite sorption system

E Moon, C Peacock

(2013), Vol. 104, pp. 148-164, Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Adsorption of Cu(II) to ferrihydrite and ferrihydrite-bacteria composites: importance of the carboxyl group for Cu mobility in natural environments

E Moon, C Peacock

(2012), Vol. 92, pp. 203-219, Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Oxidative scavenging of thallium by birnessite: explanation for thallium enrichment and stable isotope fractionation in marine ferromanganese precipitates

C Peacock, E Moon

(2012), Vol. 84, pp. 297-313, Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Adsorption of Cu(II) to Bacillus subtilis: A pH-dependent EXAFS and thermodynamic modelling study

E Moon, C Peacock

(2011), Vol. 75, pp. 6705-6719, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals

Prof Kevin Galvin, Prof San Thang, Prof Graeme Jameson, A/Prof Chun-Xia Zhao, Prof William Skinner, Prof George Franks, Prof Steven Armes, Prof Jan Miller, Prof Zhenghe Xu, Prof Robert Davis, Prof Peter Scales, Prof Erica Wanless, Prof Geoffrey Evans, Prof Anh Nguyen, A/Prof David Beattie, Prof Jacobus Eksteen, A/Prof Kenneth Williams, A/Prof Seher Ata, A/Prof Grant Webber, Prof Yongjun Peng, Dr Roberto Moreno-Atanasio, Dr Boon Teo, Dr Susana Brito e Abreu, Dr Grant Ballantyne, Dr Marta Krasowska, Dr Aaron Noble, Dr Anthony Stickland, A/Prof Elham Doroodchi, A/Prof Kym Runge, Dr Nathan Runge, Dr Peter Ireland, Dr Elizaveta Forbes, Mr Colin MacRae, Dr Ellen Moon, Prof Karen Hapgood

ARC CRE - Centres of Excellence

  • 2024: $115,292
  • 2023: $195,410
  • 2022: $195,410
  • 2021: $195,410
  • 2020: $97,705

Other Public Sector Funding

Assessing water quality risk in water distribution networks in relation to bushfires.

Dr James Gong, Dr Ellen Moon

Barwon Region Water Corporation

  • 2024: $32,000
  • 2023: $32,000
  • 2022: $32,000

Field study on concentrations of asbestos fibres in drinking water.

Dr James Gong, Dr Ellen Moon

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

  • 2024: $46,237

Industry and Other Funding

Investigation of the long-term strength degradation of pastefill from the Kibali Mine

Prof Bre-Anne Sainsbury, Dr Ellen Moon

Kibali Gold Mine

  • 2024: $24,575


Associate Supervisor

Minh Duc Nguyen

Thesis entitled: Developing Novel End-use Pathways for Water Treatment Sludge

Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), School of Engineering