Buciak, M. A. University of Alabama, bucia001@bama.ua.edu
Bonzongo, J. A. Austin College, jbonzongo@austinc.edu
Green, A. C. University of Alabama, green014@bama.ua.edu
Lyons, W. University of Alabama, byons@wgs.geo.ua.edu

 
EFFECTS OF COAL MINING ON MERCURY SPECIATION IN BLACK WARRIOR RIVER BASIN, ALABAMA
 
The methylation of inorganic-Hg can be arbitrated to both abiotic and biotic processes, although sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) are shown to be the primary Hg-methylators in aquatic ecosystems. From previous investigations, it has been established that several physiochemical parameters affect Hg methylation in aquatic ecosystems. These include the influence of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), pH, and sulfate. To investigate the effects of varying sulfate concentrations on the production of methylmercury (MeHg), tributaries draining reclaimed coal mines in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama were sampled. Water samples were analyzed for total Hg (THg) and MeHg, DOC, total suspended solids (TSS), and major ions. Particular emphasis was placed on determining the dissolved MeHg to dissolved THg ratio. Total Hg concentrations have been analyzed at near background levels ranging from 0.18 to 8.0 ng/L. It was hypothesized that the dissolved MeHg to dissolved THg ratios would be low at locations where sulfate concentrations were very low and Hg-methylation was limited. Conversely, dissolved MeHg to dissolved THg ratios were expected to be high at locations were sulfate concentrations were elevated. Preliminary results confirm our initial hypothesis in that while dissolved THg values are low, the dissolved MeHg concentrations are relatively high in tributaries with elevated sulfate levels.
 
Day: Wednesday, Feb. 3
Time: 02:45 - 03:00pm
Location: Sweeney Center
 
Code: SS28WE0245S