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The impacts of organic matter on the distribution and methylation of mercury in a hydroelectric reservoir in Wujiang River, Southwest China

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In order to understand the impacts of organic matter on geochemical process of Hg in hydroelectric reservoir, spatial and seasonal distributions of total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) both in solid and liquid phases of sediment cores were investigated in Wujiangdu Reservoir (WJD) in Guizhou province, China. Four sampling sites with different intensities of cage aquaculture activities were chosen in current study, which evenly distributed from the upstream to downstream of the WJD. Elevated MeHg concentrations jointly with the high MeHg% in solid and liquid phases of the surface sediment demonstrated the active Hg methylation process occurred at the downstream of WJD. In contrast, the absence of obvious peaks for MeHg in sediment at upper reach of WJD, consistent with the low levels of organic matter, suggested that the production of MeHg was limited. In sediment with high organic matter content, a reducing condition maintained closer to the sediment surface, resulting in the maximum MeHg concentration in these layers. The correlation between MeHg and organic carbon implied organic matter content in sediment originated from cage aquaculture activities can help to predict MeHg production rates in reservoir, which could be used to assess possible MeHg contamination in reservoir ecosystem. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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