Historical sediment mercury deposition for select South Dakota, USA, lakes: implications for watershed transport and flooding

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Purpose: Select South Dakota, USA water bodies, including both natural lakes and man-made impoundments, were sampled and analyzed to assess mercury (Hg) dynamics and historical patterns of total Hg deposition. Materials and methods: Sediment cores were collected from seven South Dakota lakes. Mercury concentrations and flux profiles were determined using lead ( 210 Pb) dating and sedimentation rates. Results and discussion: Most upper lake sediments contained variable heavy metal concentrations, but became more consistent with depth and age. Five of the seven lakes exhibited Hg accumulation fluxes that peaked between 1920 and 1960, while the remaining two lakes exhibited recent (1995–2009) Hg flux spikes. Historical sediment accumulation rates and Hg flux profiles demonstrate similar peak and stabilized values. Mercury in the sampled South Dakota lakes appears to emanate from watershed transport due to erosion from agricultural land use common to the Northern Great Plains. Conclusions: For sampled South Dakota lakes, watershed inputs are more significant sources of Hg than atmospheric deposition.

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Journal of Soils and Sediments