Mercury isotope signatures as tracers for Hg cycling at the new idria Hg mine

Jan G. Wiederhold, Robin S. Smith, Hagar Siebner, Adam D. Jew, Gordon E. Brown, Bernard Bourdon, Ruben Kretzschmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Mass-dependent fractionation (MDF) and mass-independent fractionation (MIF) of Hg isotopes provides a new tool for tracing Hg in contaminated environments such as mining sites, which represent major point sources of Hg pollution into surrounding ecosystems. Here, we present Hg isotope ratios of unroasted ore waste, calcine (roasted ore), and poplar leaves collected at a closed Hg mine (New Idria, CA, U.S.A.). Unroasted ore waste was isotopically uniform with δ202Hg values from -0.09 to 0.16‰ (±0.10‰, 2 SD), close to the estimated initial composition of the HgS ore (-0.26‰). In contrast, calcine samples exhibited variable δ202Hg values ranging from -1.91‰ to +2.10‰. Small MIF signatures in the calcine were consistent with nuclear volume fractionation of Hg isotopes during or after the roasting process. The poplar leaves exhibited negative MDF (-3.18 to -1.22‰) and small positive MIF values (Δ199Hg of 0.02 to 0.21‰). Sequential extractions combined with Hg isotope analysis revealed higher δ202Hg values for the more soluble Hg pools in calcines compared with residual HgS phases. Our data provide novel insights into possible in situ transformations of Hg phases and suggest that isotopically heavy secondary Hg phases were formed in the calcine, which will influence the isotope composition of Hg leached from the site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6137-6145
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 18 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Mercury isotope signatures as tracers for Hg cycling at the new idria Hg mine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this