Mercury transformations and exchanges in a high turbidity estuary: The role of organic matter and amorphous oxyhydroxides

Type Article
Date 2003-09
Language English
Author(s) Laurier Fabien, Cossa Daniel, Gonzalez Jean-Louis, Breviere Emily, Sarazin G
Affiliation(s) IFREMER, F-44311 Nantes 3, France.
IFREMER, F-83507 La Seyne Sur Mer, France.
Univ Paris 07, Lab Geochim Eaux, F-75005 Paris, France.
Source Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (0016-7037) (Elsevier), 2003-09 , Vol. 67 , N. 18 , P. 3329-3345
DOI 10.1016/S0016-7037(03)00081-4
WOS© Times Cited 65
Keyword(s) Sediments, Biogenic thiols, Fluorescence detection, Seine estuary, Mercury
Abstract The speciation and partition of mercury in a macrotidal estuary (Seine estuary, France) was studied in order to explore the role of the high turbidity zone (HTZ) in mercury transfer to the adjacent coastal waters. Water and particles were analyzed to determine the concentrations of various mercury species, including monomethylmercury and the inorganic fraction. The exchangeable particulate mercury, which varies with salinity, and the mercury fraction associated with the amorphous oxyhydroxides were evaluated. The distribution of dissolved mercury species during early mixing suggests non-conservative behavior of organically bound mercury at the head of the estuary. Mercury in the particles covaried positively with suspended particulate matter concentrations up to a threshold, which constitutes the typical mercury load of particles and deposited sediments of the HTZ. This distribution pattern is well explained by a dilution model: a slowly settling, low metal population of particle, characterized by relatively invariant turbidity, becomes admixed with a variable amount of higher metal content particles derived from the resuspension in the HTZ. In addition, in the HTZ, which acts as a degradation reactor for particulate organic matter, particulate mercury concentrations increase with increasing C:N ratios and amorphous oxyhydroxides particles. Mercury reaches the estuarine HTZ mainly associated with the riverine and marine particles, including organic matter and oxyhydroxides, which are temporarily trapped in the HTZ and mixed with autochthonous HTZ particles. The largest particles periodically settle and undergo diagenetic reactions and resuspensions, which lead to their mercury enrichment. Depending upon hydrodynamic conditions, mercury escapes seaward as fine particulate within the plume, partially associated with the oxyhydroxides. A surface complexation model reproduces most of the partitioning observed. In the dissolved phase the model simulation suggests that a very strong ligand must be present to explain the field observations.
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