Diel variations of concentrations of unfiltered and filtered total Hg and filtered methyl Hg were documented during 24-h sampling episodes in water from Silver Creek, which drains a historical gold-mining district near Helena, Montana, and the Madison River, which drains the geothermal system of Yellowstone National Park. The concentrations of filtered methyl Hg had relatively large diel variations (increases of 68 and 93% from morning minima) in both streams. Unfiltered and filtered (0.1-??m filtration) total Hg in Silver Creek had diel concentration increases of 24% and 7%, respectively. In the Madison River, concentrations of unfiltered and filtered total Hg did not change during the sampling period. The concentration variation of unfiltered total Hg in Silver Creek followed the diel variation in suspended-particle concentration. The concentration variation of filtered total and methyl Hg followed the solar photocycle, with highest concentrations during the early afternoon and evening and lowest concentrations during the morning. None of the diel Hg variations correlated with diel variation in streamflow or major ion concentrations. The diel variation in filtered total Hg could have been produced by adsorption-desorption of Hg2+ or by reduction of Hg(II) to Hg0 and subsequent evasion of Hg0. The diel variation in filtered methyl Hg could have been produced by sunlight- and temperature-dependent methylation. This study is the first to examine diel Hg cycling in streams, and its results reinforce previous conclusions that diel trace-element cycling in streams is widespread but often not recognized and that parts of the biogeochemical Hg cycle respond quickly to the daily photocycle. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Diel mercury-concentration variations in streams affected by mining and geothermal discharge