Historical accumulation rates of mercury in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs over the past 2000 years

Farmer, J.G., Anderson, P., Cloy, J.M., Graham, M.C., MacKenzie, A. and Cook, G. (2009) Historical accumulation rates of mercury in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs over the past 2000 years. Science of the Total Environment, 407(21), pp. 5578-5588. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.06.014)

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Abstract

The historical accumulation rates of mercury resulting from atmospheric deposition to four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs, Turclossie Moss (northeast Scotland), Flanders Moss (west-central), Red Moss of Balerno (east-central) and Carsegowan Moss (southwest), were determined via analysis of 210Pb- and 14C-dated cores up to 2000 years old. Average pre-industrial rates of mercury accumulation of 4.5 and 3.7 μg m− 2 y− 1 were obtained for Flanders Moss (A.D. 1–1800) and Red Moss of Balerno (A.D. 800–1800), respectively. Thereafter, mercury accumulation rates increased to typical maximum values of 51, 61, 77 and 85 μg m− 2 y− 1, recorded at different times possibly reflecting local/regional influences during the first 70 years of the 20th century, at the four sites (TM, FM, RM, CM), before declining to a mean value of 27 ± 15 μg m− 2 y− 1 during the late 1990s/early 2000s. Comparison of such trends for mercury with those for lead and arsenic in the cores and also with direct data for the declining UK emissions of these three elements since 1970 suggested that a substantial proportion of the mercury deposited at these sites over the past few decades originated from outwith the UK, with contributions to wet and dry deposition arising from long-range transport of mercury released by sources such as combustion of coal. Confidence in the chronological reliability of these core-derived trends in absolute and relative accumulation of mercury, at least since the 19th century, was provided by the excellent agreement between the corresponding detailed and characteristic temporal trends in the 206Pb/207Pb isotopic ratio of lead in the 210Pb-dated Turclossie Moss core and those in archival Scottish Sphagnum moss samples of known date of collection. The possibility of some longer-term loss of volatile mercury released from diagenetically altered older peat cannot, however, be excluded by the findings of this study.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cook, Professor Gordon and MacKenzie, Professor Angus
Authors: Farmer, J.G., Anderson, P., Cloy, J.M., Graham, M.C., MacKenzie, A., and Cook, G.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Science of the Total Environment
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0048-9697
ISSN (Online):1879-1026
Published Online:30 June 2009

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