Historical Records of Mercury Stable Isotopes in Sediments of Tibetan Lakes

Runsheng Yin, Xinbin Feng, James P. Hurley, David P. Krabbenhoft, Ryan F. Lepak, Shichang Kang, Handong Yang, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The Tibetan Plateau (TP), known as the "Third Pole", is a critical zone for atmospheric mercury (Hg) deposition. Increasing anthropogenic activities in the globe leads to environmental changes, which may affect the loading, transport and deposition of Hg in the environment. However, the deposition history and geochemical cycling of Hg in the TP is still uncertain. Our records of Hg and Hg isotopes in sediment profiles of the two largest lakes in the TP, Lake Qinghai and Nam Co, show increased Hg influx since last century, with the maximum Hg influx enrichment ratios of 5.4 and 3.5 in Lake Qinghai and Nam Co, respectively. Shifts in negative δ202Hg in Lake Qinghai (-4.55 to-3.15‰) and Nam Co (-5.04 to-2.16‰) indicate increased atmospheric Hg deposition through rainfall, vegetation and runoff of soils. Mass independent fractionation of both even-Hg (δ200Hg: +0.05 to +0.10‰) and odd-Hg (δ199Hg: +0.12 to +0.31‰) isotopes were observed. Positive δ200Hg suggest high proportion of precipitationderived Hg in the TP, whereas the positive δ199Hg results from Hg(II) photo-reduction. Both lakes show increasing δ199Hg since the 1900 s, and we conclude that with the decrease of ice duration, Hg(II) photoreduction may have been accelerated in these TP lakes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23332
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2016

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