Mercury in Lake Vänern, Sweden Distribution In Surface Sediment And Catchment Budget

Authors: Wihlborg, P.; Danielsson, Å.; Klingberg, F.

Source: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Volume 154, Numbers 1-4, May 2004 , pp. 85-99(15)

Publisher: Springer

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Lake Vänern is Sweden's largest lake and freshwater reservoir. Large quantities of mercury were released into the lake during a large part of the 20th century, resulting in serious contamination. The main load originated from one single point source — a chlor-alkali industry. Its releases were drastically reduced in the early 1970's, but nearby sediments displayed alarmingly high concentrations. During summer 2001, fifty-one sediment cores were taken, and analysed for total mercury. It was found that mercury concentrations in surface sediments have decreased significantly between 1974 and 2001, but the influence of the former single point source was still reflected in the concentration patterns. Thirty years ago, sediments around the dominant point source displayed the highest concentrations. Today, the highest concentrations in surface sediments were still found close to it, but also in deep waters in the central part of the lake. Surprisingly, the gradient from the point source is stronger today compared to 1974. A mercury budget, based on the annual sediment accumulation rate, the bulk density, atmospheric load and outflow of mercury, was formed. The surface sediments (0—1 cm, on average corresponding to ∼5 yr according to 137Cs dating) in accumulation bottoms (water depth >40m) contained approximately 530 kg Hg (corresponding value for year 1974 was 4100 kg Hg). A majority of the present additions of mercury to the lake originates from atmospheric deposition. It was also found that the lake acts as a sink for mercury. In fact, approximately 90—95% of the incoming mercury was retained within the catchment or in the sediments.

Keywords: Lake Vänern; accumulation rate; budget; load; mercury; sediment

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: May 1, 2004

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