A combination of sediment-thickness measurement and bottom-sediment coring was used to investigate sediment storage and severity of contamination in Empire Lake (Kansas), a shallow reservoir affected by historical Pb and Zn mining. Cd, Pb, and Zn concentrations in the contaminated bottom sediment typically exceeded baseline concentrations by at least an order of magnitude. Moreover, the concentrations of Cd, Pb, and Zn typically far exceeded probable-effects guidelines, which represent the concentrations above which toxic biological effects usually or frequently occur. Despite a pre-1954 decrease in sediment concentrations likely related to the end of major mining activity upstream by about 1920, concentrations have remained relatively stable and persistently greater than the probable-effects guidelines for at least the last 50 years. Cesium-137 evidence from sediment cores indicated that most of the bottom sediment in the reservoir was deposited prior to 1954. Thus, the ability of the reservoir to store the contaminated sediment has declined over time. Because of the limited storage capacity, Empire Lake likely is a net source of contaminated sediment during high-inflow periods. The contaminated sediment that passes through, or originates from, Empire Lake will be deposited in downstream environments likely as far as Grand Lake O' the Cherokees (Oklahoma). ?? 2007 Springer-Verlag.
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Sediment storage and severity of contamination in a shallow reservoir affected by historical lead and zinc mining