Total Mercury in Surface and Deep Waters in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Friday, 19 December 2014
Massimiliano Varde'1, Franco Cofone1, Alessandro Servidio1, Annalisa Rosselli1, Ian M Hedgecock1, Ivano Ammoscato1, Valentino Mannarino1, Francesca Sprovieri1, Mario Gensini1 and Nicola Pirrone2, (1)CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research, Rende, Italy, (2)CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research, Rome, Italy
In the framework of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) Med-Oceanor measurement program and as part of the Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS) objectives, we performed two cruise campaigns with the CNR's Research Vessel (RV) Urania, in the western and eastern Mediterranean Basin, in the summers of 2012 and 2013. Total Mercury (THg) concentration in seawater was systematically measured at different depths from the sea bottom to the surface. A total of 155 surface and deep seawater samples at 25 selected stations were collected during the cruise campaigns using a stainless-steel rosette system on which 24 Niskin bottles (10L) were mounted. Continuous monitoring of temperature, conductivity, salinity and oxygen with depth were obtained by CTD measurements. All fluorinated containers were cleaned prior to use following GMOS SOPs. The chemical reagents used were suitable for ultra-trace Hg analysis. After sampling, samples were preserved by adding HCl solution to the sample bottles, which were refrigerated during transportation and analyzed within four weeks of the end of the oceanographic campaign. Sea water samples were analyzed in the laboratory following the US-EPA 1631 method revision E (US-EPA, 2002). To assess the critical issues related to mercury (Hg) contamination and to prevent leakage of Hg through volatilization we used all necessary precautions for sampling, sample stabilization, preservation and subsequent analysis in the laboratory. Quality assurance and quality control were performed using transport blanks, laboratory blanks and use of seawater certified reference materials. The accuracy of the analytical procedures for the determination of THg in sea water was corroborated by participation in a global inter-laboratory comparison study for THg in natural waters. THg concentrations in surface and deep waters found in the Mediterranean basin during the last two cruise campaigns Med-Oceanor as well as the THg measurements in sea water collected in the other programs and oceanographic campaigns will help to further our understanding of Hg marine distribution and its impact on the biogeochemical cycle of Hg in the open ocean.