Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 21, pp 21086–21096 | Cite as

Total and methyl-mercury seasonal particulate fluxes in the water column of a large lake (Lake Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Elena Gascón Díez
  • Neil D. Graham
  • Jean-Luc Loizeau
Research Article


Concentrations and fluxes of total and methylmercury were determined in surface sediments and associated with settling particles at two sites in Lake Geneva to evaluate the sources and dynamics of this toxic contaminant. Total mercury concentrations measured in settling particles were different throughout the seasons and were greatly influenced by the Rhone River particulate inputs. Total mercury concentrations closer to shore (NG2) ranged between 0.073 ± 0.001 and 0.27 ± 0.01 μg/g, and between 0.038 ± 0.001 and 0.214 ± 0.008 μg/g at a site deeper in the lake (NG3). Total mercury fluxes ranged between 0.144 ± 0.002 and 3.0 ± 0.1 μg/m2/day at NG2, and between 0.102 ± 0.008 and 1.32 ± 0.08 μg/m2/day at NG3. Combined results of concentrations and fluxes showed that total mercury concentrations in settling particles are related to the season and particle inputs from the Rhone River. Despite an observed decrease in total mercury fluxes from the coastal zone towards the open lake, NG3 (~ 3 km from the shoreline) was still affected by the coastal boundary, as compared to distal sites at the center of the lake. Thus, sediment focusing is not efficient enough to redistribute contaminant inputs originating from the coastal zones, to the lake center. Methylmercury concentrations in settling particles largely exceeded the concentrations found in sediments, and their fluxes did not show significant differences with relation to the distance from shore. The methylmercury found associated with settling particles would be related to the lake’s internal production rather than the effect of transport from sediment resuspension.


Mercury fluxes Mercury transport Settling particles Methylmercury Lake Geneva Freshwater pollution Sediment traps 



We would like to thank Philippe Arpagaus for his help during the sampling campaigns, in addition to “La Direction Générale de l’Environnement DGE–Inspection de la pêche” and “Canton de Vaud” for allowing us to deploy the sediment traps in Lake Geneva. The work was partially funded by SNF research grant PDFMP2-123034.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2252_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (192 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 192 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department F.-A. Forel for Environmental and Aquatic Sciences, and Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity of GenevaGeneva 4Switzerland
  2. 2.Soil and Water InfrastructureBiology Centre CASČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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