The decay of coarse woody debris is a key component in the formation of forest soil and in the biogeochemical cycles of Ca and Mg. We tracked changes in density and concentration of Ca and Mg in sapwood of red maple (Acer rubrum L.), red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.), paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr.) in Maine and New Hampshire. We repeatedly sampled 10 logs of each combination of tree species and location at the time of felling and at 2-year intervals for 6 years (birch and hemlock) or 8 years (spruce and maple). We found that density loss was essentially linear for the time period investigated, with birch and maple sapwood decaying at faster rates than spruce and hemlock. Repeated-measures analysis and regression modeling of log-transformed concentrations indicated a significant accumulation of Ca for sapwood of all tree species at both locations (30%-90% increase after 6-8 years of ground contact). Regression estimates of Mg concentration in spruce and maple declined about 20% during the 8 years of ground contact. There was no significant trend for Mg concentration in birch and hemlock. Variation in decay rates and trends in Ca and Mg concentration may be due to differences in sapwood quality, the community of wood decay fungi and associated organisms, or to abiotic conditions.