Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 33–55 | Cite as

Biogeochemistry of Major Redox Elements and Mercury in a Tropical Reservoir Lake (Petit Saut, French Guiana)

  • T. Peretyazhko
  • P. Van Cappellen
  • C. Meile
  • M. Coquery
  • M. Musso
  • P. Regnier
  • L. CharletEmail author


The hydroelectric reservoir of Petit Saut, French Guiana, was created in 1994–1995 by flooding 350 km2 of tropical forest. When sampled in 1999, the lake exhibited a permanent stratification separating the 3–5 m thick, oxygenated epilimnion from the anoxic hypolimnion. The rate of anaerobic organic carbon mineralization below the oxycline was on the order of 1 μmol C m−2 s−1 and did not show a pronounced difference between wet and dry seasons. Methanogenesis accounted for 76–83% of anaerobic carbon mineralization, with lesser contributions of sulfate reduction and dissimilatory iron reduction. Upward mixing of reduced inorganic solutes explained 90% of the water column O 2 demand during the dry season, while most O 2 consumption during the wet season was coupled to aerobic respiration of organic matter synthesized in the surface waters. Inorganic mercury species represented 10–40% of total dissolved mercury in the epilimnion, but were of relatively minor importance (≤10%) in the anoxic portion of the water column. Net production of soluble organic mercury compounds in the flooded soils and anoxic water column did not vary significantly between wet and dry seasons. Methylmercury accounted for about 15% of total dissolved mercury below the oxycline. Its estimated net production rate, 0.04 mg m−2 yr−1, is of the same order of magnitude as values reported for contaminated lakes and flooded terrestrial ecosystems.


biogeochemistry hydroelectric reservoir mercury Petit Saut redox stratification 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Appelo, C. A. J., Postma, D. 1993Geochemistry, Groundwater and Pollution.BalkemaNetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  2. Boudou, A., Ribeyre, F. 1997Mercury in the food web: Accumulation and transfer mechanismsMetal Ions in Biological Systems34289319Google Scholar
  3. Charlet, L., Peretyazhko, T. 2003Recharge d’une retenue hydroélecrique stratifiée tropicale après orage (Retenue de Petit Saut Guyane Française)Revue de Géographie Alpine919399Google Scholar
  4. Charlet, L., Boudou, A. 2002Cet or qui file un mauvais mercureLa Recherche3595259Google Scholar
  5. Collos, Y., Vaquer, A., Johnson, A. M., Pons, V., Binent, B., Richard, S. 2001Carbon fixation ammonium uptake and regeneration in an equatorial lake: biological versus physical controlJournal of Plankton Research23263270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coquery, M., Cossa, D., Peretyazhko, T., Azemard, S., Charlet, L. 2003Methylmercury formation in the anoxic waters of the Petit-Saut reservoir (French Guiana) and its spreading in the adjacent Sinnamary RiverJournal de Physique107327331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coquery, M., Cossa, D. 1995Mercury speciation in surface waters of the North SeaJournal of Sea Research34245257Google Scholar
  8. Coquery, M., Cossa, D., Martin, J. M. 1995The distribution of dissolved and particulate mercury in three Siberian estuaries and adjacent arctic coastal watersWater Air Soil Pollution80653664Google Scholar
  9. Cossa, D., Elbaz-Poulichet, F., Nieto, J. M. 2001Mercury in the Tinto-Odiel estuarine system (Gulf of Cadiz Spain): Sources and dispersionAquatic Geochemistry7112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Delmas, R., Galy-Lacaux, C., Richard, S. 2001Emissions of greenhouse gases from the tropical hydroelectric reservoir of Petit Saut (French Guiana) compared with emissions from thermal alternativesGlobal Biochemical Cycles159931003Google Scholar
  11. Dumestre, J. -F., Vaquer, A., Gosse, P., Richard, S., Labroue, L. 1999Bacterial ecology of a young equatorial hydroelectric reservoir (Petit Saut French Guiana)Hydrobiologia4007583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dumestre, J. F., Casamayor, E. O., Massana, R., Pedros-Alio, C. 2002Changes in bacterial and archaeal assemblages in an equatorial river induced by the water eutrophication of Petit Saut dam reservoir (French Guiana)Aquatic Microbial Ecology26209221Google Scholar
  13. EPA. (1999) Method 1631, Revision B: Mercury by oxidation, purge and trap, and cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. US Environmental Protection Agency report.Google Scholar
  14. Fearnside, P. M. 2001Environmental impacts of Brazil’s Tucurui Dam: Unlearned lessons for hydroelectric development in AmazoniaEnvironmental Management27377396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fearnside, P. M. 2002Greenhouse gas emissions from a hydroelectric reservoir (Brazil’s Tucurui Dam) and the energy policy implicationsWater Air Soil Pollution 1331336996Google Scholar
  16. Galy-Lacaux, C., Delmas, R., Jambert, C., Dumestre, J.-F., Labroue, L., Richard, S., Gosse , P. 1997Gaseous emissions and oxygen consumption in hydroelectric dams: A case study in French GuyanaGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles11471483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Galy-Lacaux, C., Delmas, R., Kouadio, G., Richard, S., Gosse, P. 1999Long-term greenhouse gas emission from hydroelectric reservoirs in tropical forest regionsGlobal Biochemical Cycles13503517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gilmour, C. C., Henry, E. A., Mitchell, R. 1992Sulfate stimulation of mercury methylation in fresh-water sedimentsEnvironmental Science Technology2622812287Google Scholar
  19. Imboden, D., Wu¨est, A. 1995Mixing mechanisms in lakes.Lerman, A. eds. In Physics and Chemistry of LakesSpringer-VerlagNew York83138Google Scholar
  20. Lacerda, L. D.Salomons, W. eds. 1998Mercury from Gold and Silver Mining: A Chemical Time Bomb?SpringerBerlinGoogle Scholar
  21. Livingstone, D. M., Imboden, D. M. 1996The prediction of hypolimnetic oxygen profiles - a plea for a deductive approachCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences53924932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Louchouarn, P., Lucotte, M., Mucci , A., Pichet, P. 1993Geochemistry of mercury in two hydroelectric reservoirs in QuebecCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences50269281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lovley, D. 1991Dissimilatory Fe(III) and Mn(IV) reductionMicrobiological Reviews55259287Google Scholar
  24. Lowe, K. L., Dichristina, T. J., Roychoudhury, A. N., Cappellen, P. 2000Microbiological and geochemical characterization of microbial Fe(III) reduction in salt marsh sedimentsGeomicrobiology Journal17163176Google Scholar
  25. St Louis, V. L., Kelly, C. A., Duchemin, E., Rudd, J. W. M., Rosenberg, D. M. 2000Reservoir surfaces as sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere: A global estimateBioscience50766775Google Scholar
  26. Lucotte, M., Montgomery, S., Begin, M. 1999Mercury dynamics at the flooded soil-water interface in reservoirs of Northern Quebec: in situ observations. In Mercury in the Biogeochemical CycleLucotte, M. eds. Natural Environments and Hydroelectric Reservoirs of Northern Quebec. SpringerBerlin, New York165189Google Scholar
  27. Mol, J. H., Ramlal, J. S., Lietar, C., Verloo, M. 2001Mercury contamination in freshwater, estuarine, and marine fishes in relation to small-scale gold mining in Suriname, South America.Environmental Research86183197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morel, F. M. M., Kraepiel, A. M. L., Amyot, M. 1998The chemical cycle and bioaccumulation of mercuryAnnual Review of Ecology and Systematics29543566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oliveira, S. M. B., A. J., Melfi, A. H., Forti, Fostier, M. C., Favaro, D. I. T, Boulet, R. 2001Soils as an important sink for mercury in the AmazonWater Air Soil Pollution126321337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pfeiffer, W. C., Lacerda, L. D. 1988Mercury inputs into the Amazon region Brazil.Environmental Technology Letters9325330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Redfield, A. C. 1958The biological control of chemical factors in the environmentAmerican Journal of Science46205221Google Scholar
  32. Roulet, M., Lucotte, M., Saint-Aubin, A., Tran, S., Rheault, I., Farella, N., Silva, E. D., Dezencourt, J., Passos, C. J. S., Soares, G. S., Guimaraes, J. R. D., Mergler, D., Amorim , M. 1998The geochemistry of mercury in central Amazonian soils developed on the Alter-do-Chao formation of the lower Tapajos River Valley, Para state, Brazil.Science of the Total Environment223124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Roulet, M, Lucotte, M., Farella, N., Serique, G., Coelho, H., Passos, C. J. S., Silva, E. D., Andrade, P. S., Mergler, D., Guimaraes, J. R. D., Amorim, M. 1999Effects of recent human colonization on the presence of mercury in Amazonian ecosystemsWater Air Soil Pollution112297313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roulet, M., Lucotte, M., Canuel, R., Farella, N., Courcelles, M., Guimaraes, J. R. D., Mergler, D., Amorim, M. 2000Increase in mercury contamination recorded in lacustrine sediments following deforestation in the central AmazonChemical Geology165243266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rudd, J. W. M. 1995Sources of methyl mercury to freshwater ecosystems a ReviewWater Air Soil Polluion80697713Google Scholar
  36. dos Santos, Afonso M., Stumm, W. 1992Reductive dissolution of iron(III) (hydr)oxides by hydrogen sulfideLangmuir816711675Google Scholar
  37. Sellers, P., Kelly, C. A., Rudd, J. W. M. 2001Fluxes of methylmercury to the water column of a drainage lake: The relative importance of internal and external sourcesLimnology and Oceanography46623631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sellers, P., Kelly, C. A., Rudd, J. W. M., Machutchon, A. R. 1996Photodegradation of methylmercury in lakesNature380694697Google Scholar
  39. Sigg, L. 1985Metal transfer mechanisms in lakes; the role of settling particles. Stumm, W. eds. In Chemical Processes in LakesWileyNew York283310Google Scholar
  40. Sissakian, C. 1997Présentation général de l’aménagement hydroélectrique de Petit Saut (Gyuane Française) et du programme de suivi écologique lié à sa mise en eauHydroecologie Appliquée9121Google Scholar
  41. Stumm, W., Morgan, J. 1996Aquatic ChemistryJohn Wiley & SonsNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Tessier, A. 1992Sorption of trace elements on natural particles in oxic environment.Buffle, J.Leeuwen, H. P. eds. In Environmental ParticlesBoca RatonLewis425453Google Scholar
  43. Cappellen, P., Viollier, E., Roychoudhury, A. N., Clark, L., Ingall, E., Lowe, K., DiChristina, T. 1998Biogeochemical cycles of manganese and iron at the oxicanoxic transition of a stratified marine basin (Orca Basin, Gulf of Mexico). Environmental Science and Technology 3229312939Google Scholar
  44. Cappellen, P., Wang, Y. 1995Metal cycling in surface sediments: modeling the interplay between transport and reaction.Allen, H. eds. In Metal Contaminated Aquatic SedimentsAnn Arbor PressChelsea2164Google Scholar
  45. Cappellen, P., Wang, Y. 1996Cycling of iron and manganese in surface sediments: A general theory for the coupled transport and reaction of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, iron and manganese.American Journal of Science296197243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vaquer, A., Pons, V., Lautier, J. 1997Distribution spatio-temporelle du phytoplankton dans le réservoir Petit Saut (Guyane Française)Hydroecologie Appliquée9169193Google Scholar
  47. Vogel, A. I. 1989Vogel’s Textbook of Quantitative Chemical AnalysisWileyNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Watras, C., Bloom, N. 1994The vertical distribution of mercury species in Wisconsin Lakes: accumulation in plankton layers. Watras, C.Huckabee, J. eds. In Mercury Pollution:Integration and SynthesisLewis publishersBoca Raton137185Google Scholar
  49. Watras, C. J. 1994Sources and fates of mercury and methylmercury in Wisconsin lakes.Watras, C.Huckabee, J. eds. In Mercury Pollution: Integration and SynthesisLewis publishersBoca Raton153177Google Scholar
  50. Zehnder, A. J. B. eds. 1988Biology of Anaerobic MicroorganismsWileyNew YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Peretyazhko
    • 1
    • 4
  • P. Van Cappellen
    • 2
  • C. Meile
    • 2
    • 5
  • M. Coquery
    • 3
    • 6
  • M. Musso
    • 1
  • P. Regnier
    • 2
  • L. Charlet
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Environmental Geochemistry Group, Earth and Planetary Science Observatory (OSUGLGIT)University of Grenoble-IGrenoble Cedex 9France
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences - GeochemistryUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.International Atomic Energy AgencyMarine Environmental Laboratory (IAEA-MEL)Monaco
  4. 4.Ecosystem Science DivisionUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  5. 5.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  6. 6.Water Quality and Pollution Protection UnitCEMAGREFLyon Cedex 9France

Personalised recommendations