Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:35 PM


ABBOTT, April, Department of Geological Sciences, Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812 and CURTIN, Tara M., Department of Geoscience, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456,

Mercury (Hg) contamination is pervasive in aquatic ecosystems and its bioaccumulation may lead to severe health concerns for both wildlife and humans. In this study we quantify historical Hg fluxes to the profundal sediment of Seneca Lake, NY. Previous studies show that the highest surface sediment Hg concentrations occur here, near a major tributary and much of the early local industry. Analysis of a 210Pb-dated box core indicates total Hg (HgT) fluxes were lowest (0.013 ngcm-2y-1) in 1770 and peaked between 1890 and 1897 (0.070 ngcm-2y-1). This peak in HgT flux predates those observed in other local and regional lakes, suggesting that a direct discharge source rather than widespread atmospheric deposition as a potential reason for increased HgT flux to the sediment. Early industry, a growing population, tanneries, hatteries, as well as a flourishing nursery market in the late 19th century are all potential causes of the high Hg concentrations found in Seneca Lake sediment.