SS3.17 Global Mercury Cycling: From Natural to Anthropogenic Sources
Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Time: 10:15:00 AM
Location: Carson C
 
GanesanK, Montana Tech of The University of Montana, Butte, USA, kganesan@mtech.edu
Sambathkumar, S, , Montana Tech of The University of Montana, Butte, USA, kganesan@mtech.edu
 
TRANSPORT AND FATE OF MERCURY IN OLD GOLD MINE TAILINGS
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The amount and fate of mercury in old gold mine tailings have not been evaluated adequately to understand its potential risk to human health and ecosystems. This research attempts to evaluate the fate of mercury in gold mine tailings. Up to a century old gold mine tailings were sampled for mercury in soils. Mercury flux into the atmosphere was also measured. Mercury in water in the nearby creek and in sediments was also determined. The soil samples showed concentrations up to 30 micrograms of mercury per gram of soil. There appears to be a vertical concentration gradient of mercury in the tailing piles. The flux measurements using a flux chamber indicated a maximum flux of 10,000 ng/m2/hr. The background flux levels were measured to be 100 ng/m2/hr. Thus, the mercury contaminated tailings were determined to be a potential source for atmospheric mercury. The suspended sediment samples from a creek that runs through the tailings showed only trace amounts of mercury in the water. However, the suspended sediments in the creek showed up to 10 ug/g of mercury.