Redox oscillation affecting mercury mobility from highly contaminated coastal sediments: a mesocosm incubation experiment
1 Dipartimento di Matematica & Geoscienze, Università di Trieste, Via Weiss 2, 34128 Trieste, Italy
2 Environmental Chemistry Department, IDAEA-CSIC, Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034, Barcelona, Spain
3 Osservatorio Alto Adriatico, Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente del Friuli Venezia Giulia (ARPA-FVG), Via Cairoli 14, 33057, Palmanova, Italy
Mercury (Hg) mobility at the sediment-water interface was investigated during a laboratory incubation experiment on highly contaminated sediments (up to 23 μg g−1) of the Gulf of Trieste. Undisturbed sediment was collected in front of the Isonzo River mouth, which inflows Hg-rich suspended material originating from the Idrija (NW Slovenia) mining district. Since hypoxic and anoxic conditions at the bottom are frequently observed, a redox oscillation was simulated in the laboratory at in situ temperature, using a dark flux chamber. Temporal variations of several parameters were monitored simultaneously: dissolved Hg and methylmercury (MeHg), O2, NH4+, NO3−+NO2−, PO43−, H2S, dissolved Fe and Mn, dissolved inorganic and organic carbon (DIC and DOC). Benthic fluxes of Hg and MeHg were higher under anoxic conditions while re-oxygenation caused concentrations of MeHg and Hg to rapidly drop, probably due to re-adsorption onto Fe/Mn oxyhydroxides and enhanced demethylation. Hence, during anoxic events, sediments of the Gulf of Trieste may be considered as an important source of dissolved Hg species for the water column. However, re-oxygenation of the bottom compartment mitigates Hg and MeHg release from the sediment, thus acting as a natural “defence” from possible interaction between the metal and the aquatic organisms.
Key words: Mercury / sediments / benthic chamber / incubation
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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