Stratigraphy and historic accumulation of mercury in recent depositional sediments in the Sudbury River, Massachusetts U.S.A.

Bradley E. Frazier, James G. Wiener, Ronald G. Rada, Daniel R. Engstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The distribution and deposition of sedimentary mercury in the Sudbury River were linked to an industrial complex (Nyanza site) that operated from 1917 through 1978. In two reservoirs just downstream from the Nyanza site, estimated rates of mercury accumulation increased markedly in the 1920s and 1930s, were greatest during 1976-1982, decreased within 5 years after industrial operations ceased, and have decreased further since capping of contaminated soil at the Nyanza site was completed in 1991. The most contaminated sediments were typically buried, yet the 0- to 1-cm stratum remained substantially contaminated in all cores. Mercury accumulating in the surficial, reservoir sediments was probably from continuing, albeit much lesser, inputs from the Nyanza site, whereas recent inputs to downstream wetland areas were attributed to recycling of sedimentary mercury or to mercury from unidentified local sources. In the reservoirs, burial of highly contaminated sediments is gradually decreasing the amount of sedimentary mercury available for methylation. In downstream wetlands, however, sedimentary mercury seemed to be more available than that in the reservoirs for physical transport and biogeochemical cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1072
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume57
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

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