In response to increasing public concern regarding mercury (Hg) cycling in Great Salt Lake (GSL) ecosystem, a series of studies were initiated to differentiate between the mass of Hg from riverine versus atmospheric sources to GSL. Cumulative riverine Hg load to GSL during a 1 year time period (April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008) was 6 kg, with almost 50% of the cumulative Hg load contributed by outflow from Farmington Bay. Comparison of cumulative annual atmospheric Hg deposition (32 kg) to annual riverine deposition (6 kg) indicates that atmospheric deposition is the dominant input source to GSL. A sediment core collected from the southern arm of GSL was used to reconstruct annual Hg deposition rates over the past ~ 100 years. Unlike most freshwater lakes, small changes in water level in GSL significantly changes the lake surface area available for direct deposition of atmospheric Hg. There is good agreement between lake elevation (and corresponding lake surface area) and Hg deposition rates estimated from the sediment core. Higher lake levels, combined with sediment focusing processes, result in an increase in Hg accumulation rates observed in the sediment core. These same combination of processes are responsible for the lower Hg accumulation rates observed in the sediment core during historic low stands of GSL.
Naftz, David; Fuller, Christopher; Cederberg, Jay; Krabbenhoft, David; Whitehead, John; Garberg, Jodi; and Beisner, Kimberly
"Mercury inputs to Great Salt Lake, Utah: Reconnaissance-Phase results,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 15, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol15/iss1/5