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Open-File Report 2008-1279

National Water-Quality Assessment Program

Procedures for Collecting and Processing Streambed Sediment and Pore Water for Analysis of Mercury as Part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program

By Michelle A. Lutz, Mark E. Brigham, and Mark Marvin-DiPasquale

Cover Photo

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) contamination is an issue of national concern, affecting both wildlife and human health. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, in association with the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program and the USGS National Research Program, has initiated two levels of studies to investigate Hg contamination of the Nationís streams: reconnaissance and detailed studies. Reconnaissance studies entailed one-time sampling events at 266 stream sites across the Nation. Detailed studies entailed intensive spatial and temporal sampling of a small number of streams across the Nation in an effort to develop a more complete, process-level understanding of benthic Hg geochemistry and the underlying factors controlling it. This report summarizes the sampling methods used for the collection and processing of streambed sediment and pore water in association with both of these study levels. Bed-sediment characteristics, such as organic content and grain size, strongly influence Hg geochemistry; detailed characterization of these constituents within a stream reach will allow for the extrapolation of related Hg biogeochemical constituents to the reach scale.

Contents

Abstract
Background
Reconnaissance Studies
Detailed Studies
Field Measurements
References Cited
Appendix 1. Method Summary Sheets
Appendix 2. Primary and Ancillary Constituents Analyzed for in Bed Sediment and Pore Water Collected for the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program Detailed Mercury Studies
Appendix 3. Field Forms
Appendix 4. Sample Labels
Appendix 5. Equipment Required for Bed-Sediment and Pore-Water Sampling in Association with the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program Reconnaissance and Detailed Mercury Studies
Appendix 6. Laboratory Contact Information for U.S. Geological Survey Laboratories Performing Analyses for the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program Reconnaissance and Detailed Mercury Studies
Appendix 7. Shipping Forms for Reconnaissance and Detailed Studies

Forms

General sampling formPDF, 77 KB
Reach establishmentPDF, 195 KB
Reach diagramPDF, 81 KB
Transect samplingPDF, 289 KB
Methylmercury production- and degradation-potential ratesPDF, 222 KB
Pore-water sulfidePDF, 70 KB
Generic shipping form for the methylmercury production- and degradation-potential-rates laboratory, the Wisconsin Mercury Research Laboratory (for transect samples only), the carbon geochemistry laboratory, and the sulfur geochemistry laboratory.PDF, 172 KB
Analytical services request form for the Wisconsin Mercury Research Laboratory (WMRL) - Page 1PDF, 67 KB
Analytical services request form for the Wisconsin Mercury Research Laboratory (WMRL) - Page 2PDF, 90 KB
Cooler inventory form for the Wisconsin Mercury Research Laboratory (WMRL)PDF, 73 KB
Shipping form for the Iowa City Sediment Laboratory (ISCL) - Page 1PDF, 197 KB
Shipping form for the Iowa City Sediment Laboratory (ISCL) - Page 2PDF, 193 KB
Sample labels: reconnaissance studiesDOC, 31 KB
Sample labels: detailed studiesDOC, 38 KB

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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, M.A. Lutz, (608) 821-3816.

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