Inferring sources for mercury to inland lakes using sediment chronologies of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Sediment chronologies from inland lakes suggest the influence of local to sub-regional scale sources for mercury (Hg). However, apportionment of sources for Hg using sediment chronologies is difficult due to the mixing of sources and pathways. Mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) often share common sources and pathways into the environment. Thus, chronologies of PAHs in dated cores of sediments might be a useful tool to infer sources of Hg. Sediment cores from seven inland lakes of Michigan were collected for measurement of PAHs and Hg and dated by use of 210Pb. PAH concentrations and ratios of kinetic and thermodynamic PAH compounds were used to infer sources of Hg. Ratios indicate the existence of modern combustion sources to each lake and historic combustion sources to lakes near cement kilns and an iron foundry. Coal combustion sources were identified for two lakes near urban centers. Whereas a petroleum combustion source was identified for a lake that has a coal fired power plant along its shoreline. These results have implications for the cycling of Hg on local to regional scales.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Geoscience (ESPI)