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Distribution and Transport of Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Mercury-Contaminated Sediments in Reservoirs and Wetlands of the Sudbury River, East-Central Massachusetts

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4060

By John A. Colman, Marcus C. Waldron, Robert F. Breault, and Robert M. Lent

ABSTRACT

Total mercury and methylmercury were measured in 4 reservoir cores and 12 wetland cores from Sudbury River. The distribution of total mercury and methylmercury in these cores was evaluated to determine the potential for total mercury and methylmercury transport from reservoir and wetlands sediments to the water column. Concentrations of methylmercury were corrected for an analytical artifact introduced during the separation distillation used in the analysis procedure.  Corrected methylmercury concentrations correlated with total mercury concentrations in bulk sediment from below the top layers of reservoir and wetland cores; methylmercury concentrations at the top layers of cores were relatively high, however, and were not correlated with total mercury concentrations. Concentrations of methylmercury in pore water were positively correlated with methylmercury concentrations in the bulk sediment. High concentrations of total mercury and methylmercury in sediment (73 and 0.047 micrograms per gram dry-weight basis, respectively) contributed less to the water column in the reservoir than in the wetlands probably because of burial by low concentration sediment and differences in the processes available to transport mercury from the sediments to the water in the reservoirs, as compared to the wetlands .

CONTENTS

Abstract 

Introduction 

Acknowledgments

Description of Study Area and Coring Locations 

Study Area 

Coring Locations 

Study Methods

Coring and Sampling Procedures 

Analytical Procedures

Distribution of Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Sediments 

Sediment Loss on Ignition 

Total Mercury in Bulk Sediment of Reservoir Cores 

Methylmercury in Bulk Sediment of Reservoir Cores 

Total Mercury in Bulk Sediment of Wetland Cores 

Methylmercury in Bulk Sediment of Wetland Cores 

Correlation of Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Bulk Sediment 

Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Pore Water

Transport of Total Mercury and Methylmercury

Transport of Mercury Species Between Reservoir Sediment and Water Column

Transport of Mercury Species Between Wetland Sediment and Water Column 

Environmental Significance of the Methylmercury Transport and the Total Mercury-Methylmercury Correlation in Sediments 

References

FIGURES

1 . Map showing locations of reservoir cores, wetland cores, and the Nyanza Site in the Sudbury River Basin in east-central Massachusetts 

2-8. Graphs showing:

2. Total mercury and methylmercury concentrations (dry-weight basis) in sediment cores from Whitehall Reservoir and Reservoir 

3. Total mercury and methylmercury concentrations (dry-weight basis) in water-saturated sediment cores from wetlands 

4. Total mercury and methylmercury concentrations (dry-weight basis) in time-series cores from a wetland floodplain of the Sudbury River 

5. Relation of total mercury to methylmercury concentrations (dry-weight basis) in bulk sediment in upper sections 

6. Total mercury (left side) and methylmercury (right side) concentrations in pore water of cores from wetland and reservoir sediments of the Sudbury River

7. Relation of total mercury concentration in bulk sediment to total mercury concentration in pore water for Reservoir 

8. Relation of methylmercury concentration in bulk sediment to methylmercury concentration in pore water for Reservoir 

TABLES

1. List of 7.5-minute topographic quadrangles covering Rhode Island, showing date of publication

2. List of Rhode Island cities and towns showing 7.5-minute quadrangles covering each municipality 

3. Types of geologic and hydrologic information for which sources are summarized in tables 4-40 for quadrangles in Rhode Island

4-40. Geologic and hydrologic information for Rhode Island quadrangles 

4. Ashaway Quadrangle 

5. Attleboro Quadrangle 

6. Blackstone Quadrangle

7. Block Island Quadrangle

8. Bristol Quadrangle 

9. Carolina Quadrangle

10. Chepachet Quadrangle 

11. Clayville Quadrangle

12. Coventry Center Quadrangle

13. Crompton Quadrangle 

14. East Greenwich Quadrangle

15. East Killingly Quadrangle

16. East Providence Quadrangle 

17. Fall River Quadrangle

18. Franklin Quadrangle 

19. Georgiaville Quadrangle 

20. Hope Valley Quadrangle

21. Kingston Quadrangle 

22. Mystic Quadrangle 

23. Narragansett Pier Quadrangle 

24. Newport Quadrangle 

25. North Scituate Quadrangle 

26. Oneco Quadrangle 

27. Oxford Quadrangle 

28. Pawtucket Quadrangle 

29. Providence Quadrangle 

30. Prudence Island Quadrangle 

31. Quonochontaug Quadrangle 

32. Sakonnet Point Quadrangle

33. Slocum Quadrangle

34. Thompson Quadrangle 

35. Tiverton Quadrangle

36. Uxbridge Quadrangle 

37. Voluntown Quadrangle 

38. Watch Hill Quadrangle 

39. Westport Quadrangle 

40. Wickford Quadrangle 

41. List of publications, by report series, pertaining to the geology and hydrology of Rhode Island

AVAILABILITY

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PDF version of report, 1.8 MB, 98 pages

The citation for this report, in USGS format, is as follows:

Colman, J.A., Waldron, M.C., Breault, R.F., and Lent, R.M., 1999, Distribution and Transport of Total Mercury and Methylmercury in Mercury-Contaminated Sediments in Reservoirs and Wetlands of the Sudbury River, East-Central Massachusetts: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4060, 98 p.

For more information about USGS activities in Massachusetts-Rhode Island District, visit the USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Home Page.


 
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Last modified: Friday, September 16 2005, 04:22:51 PM
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