The natural distributions of arsenic, antimony mercury, chromium, cobalt, iron, aluminum, and carbon in the surface sediments of Puget Sound are perturbed by two major anthropogenic sources of trace metals: a copper smelter near Tacoma, Wash., that discharges large amounts of arsenic and antimony, and a chlor-alkali plant in Bellingham, Wash., which, in the recent past, discharged significant amounts of mercury. Arsenic and antimony inputs from the smelter over the past 80 years are evident in sediment cores whose accumulation rates have been determined by the lead-210 technique. An arsenic budget for Puget Sound reveals the importance of atmospheric input resulting from smokestack emissions of the smelter. Chemical extraction studies of sediments showed that more than 82% of the mercury was associated with easily oxidizable organic matter, whereas about 50% of both arsenic and antimony was associated with extractable iron and aluminum compounds.
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Geochemistries of arsenic, antimony, mercury, and related elements in sediments of puget sound