Background concentrations of mercury in Australian freshwater sediments: the role of catchment’s physico-chemical parameters on mercury deposition

Lintern, Anna, Schneider, Larissa, Beck, Kristen , Mariani, Michela, Fletcher, Michael-Shawn, Gell, Peter and Haberle, Simon (2020) Background concentrations of mercury in Australian freshwater sediments: the role of catchment’s physico-chemical parameters on mercury deposition. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene . ISSN 2325-1026

Documents
Background concentrations of mercury in Australian freshwater sediments: the role of catchment’s physico-chemical parameters on mercury deposition
Authors' Accepted Manuscript
[img]
[Download]
[img]
Preview
PDF
ELEMENTA-D-20-00019_R1_DRAFT.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

1MB
Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Waterways in the Australian continent are facing increasing levels of mercury contamination due to industrialisation, agricultural intensification, energy production, urbanisation and mining. Mercury contamination undermines the use of waterways as a source of potable water and also has a deleterious effect on aquatic organisms. When developing management strategies to reduce mercury levels in waterways, it is crucial to set appropriate targets for mitigation of these contaminated waterways. These mitigation targets could be (1) trigger values or default guideline values provided by water and sediment quality guidelines or (2) background (pre-industrialisation) levels of mercury in the waterway. The aims of this study were to: (1) quantify the differences between existing environmental guideline values for mercury in aquatic systems, and background mercury concentrations, and (2) determine key factors affecting the spatial differences in background mercury concentrations in freshwater lake systems in Australia. Mercury concentrations were measured in background sediments from 21 lakes in Australia. Organic matter and precipitation were the main factors to explain mercury concentrations in sediments of lakes. These data indicate that background mercury concentrations in lake sediments can vary significantly across the continent, and the background concentrations are up to nine times lower than current sediment quality guidelines in Australia and New Zealand. This indicates that if waterway managers are aiming to restore systems to ‘pre-industrialisation’ mercury levels, it is highly important to quantify the site-specific background mercury concentration. We found that the geology of the lake catchment correlates to the background mercury concentration of lake sediments, with the highest mercury background levels being identified in lakes in igneous mafic intrusive regions and the lowest in areas underlain by regolith. Taking into account these findings, we provide a preliminary map of predicted background mercury sediment concentrations across Australia that could be used by waterway managers for determining management targets.

Keywords:sediment quality guidelines, Mercury, background conditions, waterway management
Subjects:H Engineering > H122 Water Quality Control
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D443 Water Resource Management
F Physical Sciences > F642 Geoscience
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
ID Code:42631
Deposited On:29 Oct 2020 16:23

Repository Staff Only: item control page