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Investigations of Sediment-water Interactions in Western U.S. Water Bodies
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San Francisco Bay, CA

Lake Coeur d'Alene, ID

Lahonton Reservoir, NV

Camp Far West Reservoir, CA

Guadalupe River Watershed, CA

Upper Klamath Lake, OR




Lahonton Reservoir, Nevada

Water-quality managers are often faced with the assessment of remediation strategies for aquatic systems, in particular Super Fund sites, that have been adversely affected by anthropogenic activities. In the case of the Lahontan Reservoir along the Carson River, mercury associated with historic gold and silver extraction has been fluvially transported and accumulated in the bottom sediments. Frequent demands have been made by Super Fund site managers and the general public to quantify the connections between fluxes of contaminants and the health, abundance, and distribution of biological resources.

Picture of James Kuwabara at work on Lahonton Reservoir, NV

As part of a comprehensive examination of transport processes affecting mercury dynamics in Lahontan Reservoir, this study focuses on a poorly understood, yet potentially predominant, source of mercury to the reservoir water column: internal recycling or benthic flux of mercury species and associated ligands. Mobilization, flux and biological, availability of mercury into the water column of the reservoir is affected by physical (both advective and diffusive transport), chemical (that is, oxidation-reduction reactions, complexation and repartitioning) and biological processes (that is, uptake and toxicological response).

This study integrates project research interests with certain information needs identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 (USEPA) to provide initial determinations of dissolved total and methyl-mercury flux from the sediments into the water column of Lahontan Reservoir, Nevada. Recent mercury distribution and transformation studies in the Carson River system by Marvin-Dipasquale and others (2001) clearly indicated the potential importance of sediment-water interactions in describing mercury speciation, its sources and sinks. Quantifying and understanding the magnitude and variability of these interactions are critical to the accurate assessment of contaminant sources and loads as well as to the development of process-integrated water-quality models for this mining-affected system.

Related Publications:

Benthic Flux of Dissolved Forms of Mercury in Lahontan Reservoir, Nevada

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Last modified: May 6, 2016

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