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Geochemical Processes in Organic-Rich Sediments of South Florida-Mercury and Metals

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Project Investigators: Rama K. Kotra, Larry Gough

Project Start Date: 1996 End Date: 1998


Our objective is to determine the distribution of mercury and metals in organic-rich sediments, selected water samples, and vegetation to understand spatial occurrence variations of these elements in parts of south Florida.

Human activities have led to the deterioration of the productivity, biodiversity, and stability of the south Florida ecosystem. The fate of anthropogenic contaminants incorporated into the organic-rich sediments is not fully understood. Physical, chemical, and biological processes may remobilize some of the contaminants and reintroduce them into water, atmosphere, and the biological community. Other contaminants may be transformed during diagenesis and remain in surficial materials until the system is disturbed. This project will examine the occurrence and cycling of mercury and metals in organic-rich sediments, pore fluids, and plants at selected sites in south Florida. In collaboration with other projects under the Program, this project will also examine peat diagenesis processes that affect the cycling of mercury and metals. The results of this study will contribute to the understanding of the relationships between diagenesis, occurrence, historical variation, speciation and cycling of environmentally important elements. A better understanding of the controls on the behavior of these elements is essential for the development of plans for the long-term remediation and management strategies for the wetlands of south Florida.





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