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Publication Detail

Title: Natural and anthropogenic variations in atmospheric mercury deposition during the Holocene near Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru.

Authors: Beal, Samuel A; Kelly, Meredith A; Stroup, Justin S; Jackson, Brian P; Lowell, Thomas V; Tapia, Pedro M; Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Published In Global Biogeochem Cycles, (2014 Apr)

Abstract: Mercury (Hg) is a toxic metal that is transported globally through the atmosphere. The emission of Hg from mineral reservoirs and subsequent recycling in surface reservoirs (i.e., soil/biomass, ocean, and atmosphere) are fundamental to the modern global Hg cycle, yet past emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources are not fully constrained. We use a sediment core from Yanacocha, a headwater lake in southeastern Peru, to study the anthropogenic and natural controls on atmospheric Hg deposition during the Holocene. From 12.3 to 3.5 ka, Hg fluxes in the record are relatively constant (mean ± 1σ: 1.4 ± 0.6 μg m-2 a-1, n = 189). Past Hg deposition does not correlate with changes in regional temperature and precipitation, inferred from nearby paleoclimate records, or with most large volcanic events that occurred regionally, in the Andean Central Volcanic Zone (~300-400 km from Yanacocha), and globally. In B.C. 1450 (3.4 ka), Hg fluxes abruptly increased and reached the Holocene-maximum flux (6.7 μg m-2 a-1) in B.C. 1200, concurrent with a ~100-year peak in Fe and chalcophile metals (As, Ag, Tl) and the presence of framboidal pyrite. Continuously elevated Hg fluxes from B.C. 1200-500 suggest a protracted mining-dust source near Yanacocha that is identical in timing to documented pre-Incan cinnabar mining in central Peru. During Incan and Colonial time (A.D. 1450-1650), Hg deposition remains elevated relative to background levels but lower relative to other Hg records from sediment cores in central Peru, indicating a limited spatial extent of preindustrial Hg emissions. Hg fluxes from A.D. 1980 to 2011 (4.0 ± 1.0 μg m-2 a-1, n = 5) are 3.0 ± 1.5 times greater than pre-anthropogenic fluxes and are similar to modern fluxes documented in remote lakes around the world.

PubMed ID: 30760944 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication

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