Historical sediment mercury deposition for select South Dakota, USA, lakes: implications for watershed transport and flooding

Abstract

Purpose

Select South Dakota, USA water bodies, including both natural lakes and man-made impoundments, were sampled and analyzed to assess mercury (Hg) dynamics and historical patterns of total Hg deposition.

Materials and methods

Sediment cores were collected from seven South Dakota lakes. Mercury concentrations and flux profiles were determined using lead (210Pb) dating and sedimentation rates.

Results and discussion

Most upper lake sediments contained variable heavy metal concentrations, but became more consistent with depth and age. Five of the seven lakes exhibited Hg accumulation fluxes that peaked between 1920 and 1960, while the remaining two lakes exhibited recent (1995–2009) Hg flux spikes. Historical sediment accumulation rates and Hg flux profiles demonstrate similar peak and stabilized values. Mercury in the sampled South Dakota lakes appears to emanate from watershed transport due to erosion from agricultural land use common to the Northern Great Plains.

Conclusions

For sampled South Dakota lakes, watershed inputs are more significant sources of Hg than atmospheric deposition.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Aaron Larson and Robert Smith of South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for their assistance with data collection. This article is dedicated to the memory of Gene Stueven (South Dakota DENR) who assisted with the initiation of this study. This research was supported by grants from South Dakota DENR and United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 8. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies. The United States Geological Survey South Dakota Coop Unit is jointly supported by the US Geological Survey, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, South Dakota State University, and the Wildlife Management Institute. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the United States Government.

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Correspondence to James J. Stone.

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Responsible editor: Nives Ogrinc

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Squillace, M.K., Sieverding, H.L., Betemariam, H.H. et al. Historical sediment mercury deposition for select South Dakota, USA, lakes: implications for watershed transport and flooding. J Soils Sediments 19, 415–428 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-018-2014-3

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Keywords

  • Flux
  • Hg
  • Lake radiometric dating
  • Mercury
  • Sediment