Atmospheric mercury speciation in Yellowstone National Park

B. D. Hall, M. L. Olson, A. P. Rutter, R. R. Frontiera, D. P. Krabbenhoft, D. S. Gross, M. Yuen, T. M. Rudolph, J. J. Schauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Atmospheric concentrations of elemental mercury (Hg0), reactive gaseous Hg (RGM), and particulate Hg (pHg) concentrations were measured in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), U.S.A. using high resolution, real time atmospheric mercury analyzers (Tekran 2537A, 1130, and 1135). A survey of Hg0 concentrations at various locations within YNP showed that concentrations generally reflect global background concentrations of 1.5-2.0 ng m- 3, but a few specific locations associated with concentrated geothermal activity showed distinctly elevated Hg0 concentrations (about 9.0 ng m- 3). At the site of intensive study located centrally in YNP (Canyon Village), Hg0 concentrations did not exceed 2.5 ng m- 3; concentrations of RGM were generally below detection limits of 0.88 pg m- 3 and never exceeded 5 pg m- 3. Concentrations of pHg ranged from below detection limits to close to 30 pg m-3. RGM and pHg concentrations were not correlated with any criteria gases (SO2, NOx, O3); however pHg was weakly correlated with the concentration of atmospheric particles. We investigated three likely sources of Hg at the intensive monitoring site: numerous geothermal features scattered throughout YNP, re-suspended soils, and wildfires near or in YNP. We examined relationships between the chemical properties of aerosols (as measured using real time, single particle mass spectrometry; aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer; ATOFMS) and concentrations of atmospheric pHg. Based on the presence of particles with distinct chemical signatures of the wildfires, and the absence of signatures associated with the other sources, we concluded that wildfires in the park were the main source of aerosols and associated pHg to our sampling site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-366
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 15 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Drs. J. Hurley and N. Hinman and Mr. H. Heasler for field sampling assistance. The Spatial Analysis Center at Yellowstone National Park provided fire maps. Although the research described in this manuscript has been funded by U.S. EPA through U.S. EPA-STAR grant #827629-01, it has not been subjected to the Agency’s required peer and policy review. This work therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.


  • Aerosol particles
  • Aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS)
  • Geothermal features
  • Particulate mercury
  • Reactive gaseous mercury
  • Wild fires


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