The isotopic composition of mercury (Hg) was determined in cinnabar ore, mine-waste calcine (retorted ore), and leachates obtained from water leaching experiments of calcine from two large Hg mining districts in the U.S. This study is the first to report significant mass-dependent Hg isotopic fractionation between cinnabar ore and resultant calcine. Data indicate that ??202Hg values relative to NIST 3133 of calcine (up to 1.52???) in the Terlingua district, Texas, are as much as 3.24??? heavier than cinnabar (-1.72???) prior to retorting. In addition, ??202Hg values obtained from leachates of Terlingua district calcines are isotopically similar to, or as much as 1.17??? heavier than associated calcines, most likely due to leaching of soluble, byproduct Hg compounds formed during ore retorting that are a minor component in the calcines. As a result of the large fractionation found between cinnabar and calcine, and because calcine is the dominant source of Hg contamination from the mines studied, ??202Hg values of calcine may be more environmentally important in these mined areas than the primary cinnabar ore. Measurement of the Hg isotopic composition of calcine is necessary when using Hg isotopes for tracing Hg sources from areas mined for Hg, especially mine water runoff. ?? 2009 American Chemical Society.
Additional Publication Details
Isotopic variability of mercury in ore, mine-waste calcine, and leachates of mine-waste calcine from areas mined for mercury