Solid-gas-water phase partitioning of mercury (Hg) and the processes governing its diffusivity within soils are poorly studied. In this study, landscape and forest species dependences of gaseous elemental Hg (Hg(0)) in soil profiles (0-50 cm) were investigated over four seasons in eight subtropical (130 days) and temperate (96 days) forest plots. The vertical soil pore Hg(0) concentrations differed between subtropical (Masson pine, broad-leaved forest, and open field) and temperate (Chinese pine, larch, mixed broad-leaf forests, and open field) catchments, with annual averages ranging from 6.73 to 15.8 and 0.95 to 2.08 ng m-3, respectively. The highest Hg(0) concentrations in soil gas consistently occurred in the upper mineral or organic horizons, indicating immobilization of Hg(0) in mineral soils. A strongly positive relationship between pore Hg(0) concentrations and ratios of Hg to organic matter (SOM) in soils suggests that the vertical distribution of Hg(0) is related to soil Hg(0) formation by Hg(II) reduction and sorption to SOM. Temperature was also an important driver of Hg(0) production in soil pores. Based on measurements of soil-air Hg(0) exchange, diffusion coefficients (Ds) of Hg(0) between soil and atmosphere were calculated for field sites, providing a foundation for future development and validation of terrestrial Hg models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry