Poster Title

Occurrence and Distribution of Mercury in Mammoth Cave National Park-Phase 0

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

The fate and transport of mercury, a persistent neurotoxin, in Mammoth Cave National Park’s (MCNP) aquifer system and its potential impacts on associated organisms will be examined. Atmospheric deposition of mercury is the largest single source of mercury at Mammoth Cave. With over twenty power plant applications under consideration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is likely that mercury deposition will increase. Contaminant transport in a karst system can be quite rapid and extensive. Mercury’s mobility in surface water and ground water are of great concern due to its toxicity and its ability to biomagnify up the food chain. Furthermore, a number of surface and subsurface organisms are endangered or declining in MCNP. Therefore, determining mercury levels in MCNP and the factors that affect mercury levels and distribution are important. Initial results of mercury levels in Green River water and sediments will be presented. Mercury samples are collected monthly. As expected, mercury levels in water are quite low (0-20 ppt) since mercury preferentially binds to sediments and organic material. Samples of the Asiatic clam, Corbicula, have been collected and analyzed for mercury bioaccumulation. Liver and muscle tissue from Drum fish, a long-lived bottom-feeding species, have been collected for analysis of mercury levels. This multiyear project began in late summer 2002 and will continue through the end of 2005. An overview of the entire project design plan will also be presented. The fate and transport of mercury in Mammoth Cave National Park impacts on associated organisms will be examined. Contaminant transport in a karst system can be quite rapid and extensive. Mercury may interact with limestone, thus impacting its mobility. Mercury’s mobility in surface water and ground water are of great concern due to its toxicity and its ability to biomagnify up the food chain. Further, a number of surface and subsurface organisms are endangered or declining in MCNP. Therefore, determining mercury levels in MCNP and the factors that affect mercury levels and distribution are important. With over twenty power plant applications under consideration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is likely that mercury deposition will increase. An understanding of the physical and geochemical processes that govern the fate and transport of mercury in a karstic aquifer system is, therefore, critical.

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Occurrence and Distribution of Mercury in Mammoth Cave National Park-Phase 0

The fate and transport of mercury, a persistent neurotoxin, in Mammoth Cave National Park’s (MCNP) aquifer system and its potential impacts on associated organisms will be examined. Atmospheric deposition of mercury is the largest single source of mercury at Mammoth Cave. With over twenty power plant applications under consideration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is likely that mercury deposition will increase. Contaminant transport in a karst system can be quite rapid and extensive. Mercury’s mobility in surface water and ground water are of great concern due to its toxicity and its ability to biomagnify up the food chain. Furthermore, a number of surface and subsurface organisms are endangered or declining in MCNP. Therefore, determining mercury levels in MCNP and the factors that affect mercury levels and distribution are important. Initial results of mercury levels in Green River water and sediments will be presented. Mercury samples are collected monthly. As expected, mercury levels in water are quite low (0-20 ppt) since mercury preferentially binds to sediments and organic material. Samples of the Asiatic clam, Corbicula, have been collected and analyzed for mercury bioaccumulation. Liver and muscle tissue from Drum fish, a long-lived bottom-feeding species, have been collected for analysis of mercury levels. This multiyear project began in late summer 2002 and will continue through the end of 2005. An overview of the entire project design plan will also be presented. The fate and transport of mercury in Mammoth Cave National Park impacts on associated organisms will be examined. Contaminant transport in a karst system can be quite rapid and extensive. Mercury may interact with limestone, thus impacting its mobility. Mercury’s mobility in surface water and ground water are of great concern due to its toxicity and its ability to biomagnify up the food chain. Further, a number of surface and subsurface organisms are endangered or declining in MCNP. Therefore, determining mercury levels in MCNP and the factors that affect mercury levels and distribution are important. With over twenty power plant applications under consideration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is likely that mercury deposition will increase. An understanding of the physical and geochemical processes that govern the fate and transport of mercury in a karstic aquifer system is, therefore, critical.