, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 215–232

Effect of Watering and Soil Moisture on Mercury Emissions from Soils


DOI: 10.1007/s10533-005-4566-8

Cite this article as:
Gustin, M.S. & Stamenkovic, J. Biogeochemistry (2005) 76: 215. doi:10.1007/s10533-005-4566-8


This paper presents data from experiments that measured Mercury (Hg) flux as a function of water addition and subsequent soil drying, and maintenance of soil water content over time utilizing small dynamic gas exchange chambers and large mesocosms. When soil surfaces were dry and water was added at an amount less than that necessary to saturate the soil an immediate large (relative to dry soil flux) release of Hg occurred. Diel Hg emissions from soils, unenriched (0.02 μg g−1) and enriched (3 μg g−1) in Hg and wet below saturation, were significantly elevated above that occurring from dry soils (2–5 times depending on soil water content) for weeks to months. Enhancement of emissions from wet soils in direct sunlight were greater than that from soils shaded or in the dark suggesting that a synergism exists between soil moisture and light. When soils were watered to saturation Hg emissions were suppressed or remained the same depending on the degree of saturation. It is hypothesized that the addition of soil water in amounts less than that necessary to saturate the soil surface results in an immediate release of elemental Hg from soil surface as the more polar water molecule out competes Hg for binding sites. As the water moves into the soil, Hg adsorbed to soil particles is desorbed into soil gas and dissolved in the soil water. The process of evaporation facilitates movement of Hg as mass flow to the soil surface where it is made available for subsequent release. The latter is hypothesized to be an important process by which Hg is recharged at the soil–air interface.


Dynamic flux chambersMercuryMesocosmsSoil moisture

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA