Mercury speciation, controls on methylmercury (MeHg) production, and bed sediment - pore water partitioning of total Hg (THg) and MeHg were examined in bed sediment from eight geochemically diverse streams where atmospheric deposition was the predominant Hg input. Across all streams, sediment THg concentrations were best described as a combined function of sediment percent fines (%fines; particles < 63 ??m) and organic content. MeHg concentrations were best described as a combined function of organic content and the activity of the Hg(II)-methylating microbial community and were comparable to MeHg concentrations in streams with Hg inputs from industrial and mining sources. Whole sediment tin-reducible inorganic reactive Hg (Hg(II)R) was used as a proxy measure for the Hg(II) pool available for microbial methylation. In conjunction with radiotracer-derived rate constants of 203Hg(II) methylation, Hg(II)R was used to calculate MeHg production potential rates and to explain the spatial variability in MeHg concentration. The %Hg(II)R (of THg) was low (2.1 ?? 5.7%) and was inversely related to both microbial sulfate reduction rates and sediment total reduced sulfur concentration. While sediment THg concentrations were higher in urban streams, %MeHg and %Hg(II)R were higher in nonurban streams. Sediment pore water distribution coefficients (log Kd's) for both THg and MeHg were inversely related to the log-transformed ratio of pore water dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to bed sediment %fines. The stream with the highest drainage basin wetland density also had the highest pore water DOC ?? 2009 American Chemical Society.
Additional publication details
Mercury cycling in stream ecosystems. 2. Benthic methylmercury production and bed sediment - Pore water partitioning