Effects of historical and modern mining on mercury deposition in southeastern Peru

Samuel A. Beal, Brian P. Jackson, Meredith A. Kelly, Justin S. Stroup, Joshua D. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Both modern anthropogenic emissions of mercury (Hg), primarily from artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), and preindustrial anthropogenic emissions from mining are thought to have a large impact on present-day atmospheric Hg deposition. We study the spatial distribution of Hg and its depositional history over the past ∼400 years in sediment cores from lakes located regionally proximal (∼90-150 km) to the largest ASGM in Peru and distal (>400 km) to major preindustrial mining centers. Total Hg concentrations in surface sediments from fourteen lakes are typical of remote regions (10-115 ng g-1). Hg fluxes in cores from four lakes demonstrate preindustrial Hg deposition in southeastern Peru was spatially variable and at least an order of magnitude lower than previously reported fluxes in lakes located closer to mining centers. Average modern (A.D. 2000-2011) Hg fluxes in these cores are 3.4-6.9 μg m-2 a -1, compared to average preindustrial (A.D. 1800-1850) fluxes of 0.8-2.5 μg m-2 a-1. Modern Hg fluxes determined from the four lakes are on average 3.3 (±1.5) times greater than their preindustrial fluxes, similar to those determined in other remote lakes around the world. This agreement suggests that Hg emissions from ASGM are likely not significantly deposited in nearby down-wind regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12715-12720
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume47
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 19 2013

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Copyright:
Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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