The effect of resuspension on the fate of total mercury and methyl mercury in a shallow estuarine ecosystem: a mesocosm study
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Type of Work17 pages
Citation of Original PublicationKim, Eun-Hee; Mason, Robert P.; Porter, Elka T.; Soulen, Heather L. (2004) The effect of resuspension on the fate of total and methyl mercury in sediments. Marine Chemistry 86:121-137.
Sediments are the major repository of mercury in estuaries and could be a significant source of Hg to the overlying water column via release from the solid phase during resuspension. There is, however, little information on the effect of resuspension on Hg partitioning and release to the water column. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of resuspension on the cycling of THg and MeHg between the water column and the sediment. Tidal resuspension was simulated using the MEERC STORM facility. The facility can mimic both realistic bottom shear stress and water column turbulence simultaneously. There were three replicates of each resuspension (R) and no resuspension (NR) mesocosms. Two 4-week experiments were conducted in July and October of 2001: experiment 1 without clams and experiment 2 with clams. Both experiments showed that resuspension of muddy sediment introduced significantly higher particulate THg to the water column as TSS increased. The results suggest that THg was mostly bound to sediment particles with very little release during the resuspension events. In contrast, particulate MeHg was significantly lower in the R tanks where sediment particles with poor MeHg were dominant in the water column during the resuspension events. Dissolved THg and MeHg did not change in concert with changes in particulate load, suggesting that the dynamics between dissolved and particulate phases for both THg and MeHg cannot be explained by an equilibrium partitioning.