Part Xb Mercury in Soils

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 1105-1108

Characterization of mercury species in contaminated floodplain soils

  • M. O. BarnettAffiliated withEnvironmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , L. A. HarrisAffiliated withTechnical Division
  • , R. R. TurnerAffiliated withEnvironmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , T. J. HensonAffiliated withMetals and Ceramics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , R. E. MeltonAffiliated withTechnical Division
  • , R. J. StevensonAffiliated withTechnical Division

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The chemical form or speciation of mercury (Hg) in the floodplain soils of the East Fork Poplar Creek in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a site contaminated from past industrial activity, was investigated. The speciation of Hg in the soils is an important factor in controlling the fate and effect of Hg at the site and in assessing human health and ecological risk. Application of three different sequential extraction speciation schemes indicated the Hg at the site was predominantly relatively insoluble mercuric sulfide or metallic Hg, though the relative proportions of each did not agree well between procedures. Application of X-ray and electron beam studies to site soils confirmed the presence of metacinnabar, a form of mercuric sulfide, the first known evidence of authigenic mercuric sulfide formation in soils.