Scarborough Campus

Dr Will Mayes

Will Mayes

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science



  • Profile
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Key Publications
  • Awards and Memberships


I am a senior lecturer in Environmental Science at the Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences. My teaching and research takes on a range of topics and environments from the monitoring and remediation of post-industrial water pollution (e.g. pollution from steelworks and mines) to resource recovery, flooding and wetland restoration.  Prior to the University of Hull, I completed my PhD and worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Newcastle University.


Introduction to Earth and Environmental Systems (1st Year)

Environmental Systems

This module provides a broad-based introduction to the study of Earth Science and Environmental Systems. The module examines the basic models and concepts underlying geology and physical geography and in addition provides a framework that will allow students to understand themes of space and time that underpin natural sciences.  The strong practical element to the course equips students with a range of earth science-oriented field and laboratory skills.

Environmental Pollution and Toxicology (2nd Year)

ToxicologySince the onset of the industrial revolution, humankind has left an indelible mark on the planet through the redistribution of polluting materials and more recently the creation of synthetic contaminants. This module arms students with an in depth understanding of the nature and behaviour of pollutants in all environmental compartments (air, water, soil). Field and lecture based sessions provide a broad knowledge-base about the effects of pollutants on ecosystems, but crucially they give students the hands-on experience of how to accurately identify, quantify and manage a range of pollutants.

Environmental Impact Assessment (3rd Year)

Environmental Impact Assessment (and the Environmental Impact Statement) are the industry standard for assessing the impact of developments on the environment.  This module provides awareness and understanding of EIA through lectures delivered by practicing EIA experts, practical classes and directed learning. 

I also contribute to the following modules:

  • Introductory Research Skills (1st Year)
  • Remote Sensing and GIS (2nd Year)
  • Field Studies - Mallorca fieldtrip (3rd Year)
  • Upland Systems (3rd Year)
  • Global Change (3rd Year)
  • Independent Research Project (3rd Year)


Current and recent projects

Impact of an extreme rainfall event on solute and sediment dynamics in a mineralised river system (NERC, 2016-2017)

Over the weekend of 5 - 6 December 2015 the most intense rainfall ever recorded in the UK fell over parts of Cumbria, peaking at 341 mm over a 24 hour period at Honister Pass, resulting in widespread flooding. The nearby Coledale Beck catchment contains the UK’s flagship metal mine water treatment facility at the abandoned Pb-Ba mine Force Crag and has been subjected to substantial former metal pollution (e.g. Zn and Cd).  Given long-term water and sediment quality monitoring data are already held for this catchment, the project aims to investigate how such extreme rainfall events change the whole-system dynamics of metal and sediment cycling in such upland river catchments.  This is important not only for assessing the long term fate and risk of mining-derived metal pollutants, but also to assess the resilience of mine water treatment systems to such extremes.  The project is led by Dr Adam Jarvis (Newcastle), with support from Dr Andy Large and Dr Matt Perks (both Newcastle).

Resource recovery and remediation of alkaline wastes (R3AW) (NERC, 2014-2017)

Resource recovery and remediation of alkaline wastesAlkaline residues are produced by various globally important industries, such as steel making and alumina refining. These residues are usually enriched in various trace elements vital to modern-day technologies that are becoming more attractive to recover given dwindling primary resources.

This multi-disciplinary project is bringing together geochemists, policy experts, ecologists and systems analysts to bring about a new approach to how we manage these residues.

This will see the development of novel, biologically-mediated processes to enhance recovery of metals from these residues, while at the same time ensuring this approach does not lead to any negative impacts on the environment.

Source apportionment tools for non coal mines (Defra 2012-2015 with Adam Jarvis, Newcastle University)

Abandoned mines are an enduring source of metal pollution to our rivers.  Up to half of the known emissions of cadmium, lead and zinc to the streams and rivers of England and Wales come from long abandoned metal mines (see here). This project is providing the basis for improved monitoring of these mine-impacted catchments to better inform regulators as to how to manage these polluting discharges. We will develop new GIS databases with an inventory of polluting point and diffuse metal sources, as well as modelling tools to aid clear interpretation of metal source and transport patterns in affected rivers.  This will help identify the mine sites where remedial efforts are likely to yield the biggest benefits in terms of the length of streams and rivers that can be cost-effectively cleaned up.

Restoration of quarry lagoons for wading birds (PI: Phil Wheeler, Co-I: Sue Hull: Heidelberg Cement, Birdlife International, Hanson Aggregates, 2013-2016)

This project builds on the success of our pilot project at Wykeham Quarry in North Yorkshire where we assessed the constraints on the establishment of wader populations in aggregate quarry silt ponds. This project won the UK Quarry Life Award (and was third in the global Quarry Life Award contest!).  The new project aims to trial restoration measures for encouraging wading bird populations at active quarry sites, while also looking at the broader habitat potential at aggregate quarries in north west Europe.

Contamination and pollutant attenuation downstream of the Kolontár red mud impoundment failure, Hungary (NERC Urgency, S&T Facilities Council, 2010-2012)

Contamination and pollutant attenuation downstream of the Kolontár red mud impoundment failure, Hungary The major pollution event caused by the breach of a dam containing red mud (a by-product of bauxite ore processing for alumina manufacture) at Kolontár in Hungary received widespread international media attention in early October 2010. This is the first event of its type and scale in Europe.

Our work has undertaken a detailed assessment of the extent of impacts and nature of key contaminants present in downstream waters and sediments.

We are also undertaking longer term experiments to assess the mobility of key contaminants (e.g. arsenic, chromium and vanadium) deposited in different riparian environments.

For more information on project findings please see publications and the following links:

NERC Planet Earth:

Chemical Engineering News:

The work is being undertaken in collaboration with Newcastle University (Dr Adam Jarvis), the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Associate Professor Katalin Gruiz), the University of Leeds (Dr Ian Burke) and Oxford University (Dr Phil Renforth).

Key Publications

Selected Publications

The following papers are available at:

Riley AL, Mayes WM (2015) Long term evolution of highly alkaline steel slag drainage waters. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 187: 1-16.

Lockwood CL, Stewart DI, Mortimer RJG, Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Gruiz K, Burke IT (2015) Leaching of copper and nickel in soil-water systems contaminated by bauxite residue from Ajka (Hungary): the importance of soil organic matter. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Accepted, in press.

Jones A., Rogerson M, Greenway G. and Mayes WM (2015) Zinc uptake from circum-neutral mine drainage in freshwater biofilms: new insights from in-vivo experiments. Mine Water and the Environment. Accepted, in press.

Younger PL, Mayes WM (2015) The potential use of exhausted open pit mine voids as sinks for atmospheric CO2: insights from natural reedbeds and mine water treatment wetlands. Mine Water and the Environment. 34: 112-120.

Lockwood CL, Mortimer RJG, Stewart DI, Mayes WM, Peacock CL, Polya DA, Lythgoe PR, Lehoux AP, Gruiz K, Burke IT (2014) Effects of red mud addition to soil-water systems on biogeochemical processes and arsenic behaviour. Applied Geochemistry, 51, 268-277.

Ánton AD, Klebercz, O., Magyar Á, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Gruiz K, Mayes WM (2014)  Geochemical recovery of the Torna–Marcal river system after the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 16, 2677-2685.

Misik M, Burke IT, Reismuller M, Pichler C, Rainer B, Misikova K, Mayes WM, Knasmueller S. (2014) Red mud contains soluble vanadium that causes genotoxic effects in higher plants: a lesson from the Ajka event. Science of the Total Environment, 493, 883-890.

Hull S, Oty UV, Mayes WM, (2014) Impact of hyperalkaline steel slag drainage on benthic invertebrate communities. Hydrobiologia, 736, 83-97.

Burke IT, Peacock CL, Lockwood CL, Stewart DI, Mortimer RJG, Ward M, Renforth P, Gruiz K, Mayes WM. (2013) Sorption behaviour of arsenic and vanadium during the neutralisation of red mud. Environmental Science & Technology. 47: 6527-6535.

Mayes WM, Mason CF (2013) Water Pollution Biology, in Harrison, RM (ed), Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control, Fifth Edition. RSC Publishing. pp.80-115.

Lehoux A. Lockwood CL, Mayes WM, Stewart DI, Mortimer RJG, Gruiz K, Burke IT. (2013) Gypsum addition to soils contaminated by red mud: implications for aluminium, arsenic, molybdenum and vanadium solubility. Environmental Geochemistry & Health, 35: 643-656.

Jones A., Rogerson M., Greenway G., Potter HAB. and Mayes WM. (2013) Mine water geochemistry and metal flux in a major historic Pb-Zn-F orefield, the Yorkshire Pennines, UK. Environmental Science & Pollution Research, 20: 7570-7581.

Mayes WM, Potter HAB, Jarvis AP. (2013) Riverine flux of metals from historically mined orefields in the UK. Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 224: 1425.

Klebercz O, Mayes WM, Feigl V, Anton Á, Jarvis AP, Gruiz K. (2012) Ecotoxicity of fluvial sediments downstream of the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 14: 2063-2071.

Burke IT, Mayes WM, Peacock CL, Brown AP, Jarvis AP & Gruiz K.  (2012) Speciation of arsenic, chromium and vanadium in red mud samples from the Ajka spill site, Hungary. Environmental Science & Technology. 46 (6): 3085-3092.

Renforth P, Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Manning DAC, Gruiz K. (2012) Contaminant mobility and carbon sequestration downstream of the Ajka (Hungary) red mud spill: the effects of gypsum dosing. Science of the Total Environment. 421-422: 253-259.

Vaht R, Mayes WM, Lund A, (2011) Impact of oil shale mining on hydrological regimes in northeast Estonia. Mine Water and the Environment, 30: 284-295

Mayes WM, Davis J, Silva V, Jarvis AP (2011) Treatment of zinc-rich acid mine water in low residence time bioreactors incorporating waste shells and methanol dosing. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 193: 279-287.

Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Walton M, Feigl V, Klebercz O & Gruiz K. (2011) Dispersal and attenuation of trace contaminants downstream of the Ajka bauxite residue (red mud) depository failure, Hungary. Environmental Science & Technology. 45(12): 5147-5155.

Gozzard E, Mayes WM, Potter HAB & Jarvis AP (2011) Seasonal and spatial variation of diffuse (non-point) source zinc pollution in a historically metal mined river catchment, UK. Environmental Pollution. 159: 3113-3122.

Mayes WM & Jarvis AP (2011) Remediation of aquatic post-industrial inorganic pollutants. In Nriagu JO (ed.) Encyclopedia of Environmental Health, volume 4, pp. 789–800 Burlington: Elsevier.

Mayes WM, Potter HAB & Jarvis AP. (2010) Inventory of aquatic contaminant flux arising from historical non-coal mining in England and Wales. Science of the Total Environment. 408: 3576-3585.

Mayes WM, Johnston D, Potter HAB & Jarvis AP (2009) A national strategy for identification, prioritisation and management of pollution from abandoned non-coal mine sites in England and Wales. I. Methodology development and initial results. Science of the Total Environment, 407: 5435-5447.

Mayes WM, Aumônier J & Jarvis AP (2009) Preliminary evaluation of a constructed wetland for treating extremely alkaline (pH 12) steel slag drainage. Water Science & Technology, 59: 2253-2263.

Mayes WM, Batty LC, Younger PL, Jarvis AP, Kõiv M, Vohla C & Mander Ü (2009) Wetland treatment at extremes of pH – a review. Science of the Total Environment, 407: 3944-3957.

Mayes WM, Potter HAB & Jarvis AP (2009) Novel approach to zinc removal from circum-neutral mine waters using pelletised recovered ochre. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 162: 512-520.

Mayes WM, Younger PL & Aumônier J (2008) Hydrogeochemistry of alkaline steel slag leachates in the UK. Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 195: 35-50.

Mayes WM, Gozzard E, Potter HAB & Jarvis AP (2008) Quantifying the importance of diffuse minewater pollution in a historically heavily coal mined catchment, Environmental Pollution, 151: 165-175.

Large ARG, Mayes WM, Newson MD & Parkin G (2007) Using long term monitoring of fen hydrology and vegetation to underpin wetland restoration strategies. Applied Vegetation Science, 10: 417-428

Mayes WM, Younger PL & Aumônier J (2006) Buffering of alkaline steel slag leachate across a natural wetland. Environmental Science & Technology, 40: 1237-1243.

Mayes WM, Walsh CL, Bathurst JC, Kilsby CK, Quinn PF, Wilkinson ME, Daugherty AJ & O’Connell PE (2006) Monitoring a flood event in a densely instrumented catchment, the Upper Eden, Cumbria, UK. Water and Environment Journal. 20: 217-226.

Mayes WM, Large ARG & Younger PL (2005) The impact of pumped water from a de-watered Magnesian limestone quarry on an adjacent wetland. Environmental Pollution, 138: 444-455.

Awards and Memberships


  • Winner of the inaugural Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Award for Environmental Engineering, October 2007, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Engineers (London). Submission entitled “Development of novel treatment wetlands for the passive remediation of highly alkaline leachates”
  • Contributing author to North East Climate Change Adaptation Study winner of the Robert Stephenson Award: Special Award for Sustainability awarded by Institution of Civil Engineers (NE), May 2009.
  • Winner of the UK Quarry Life Award and 3rd Place in the International Quarry Life Award 2012 (with Dr Phil Wheeler and Dr Sue Hull).


  • The Society of Environmental Engineers (Honorary Member)
  • British Hydrological Society (Member)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS)
  • Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), awarded by the Society for the Environment

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