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Sequential samples reveal significant variation of mercury isotope ratios during single rainfall events

Yuan, Shengliu, Chen, Jiubin, Cai, Hongming, Yuan, Wei, Wang, Zhongwei, Huang, Qiang, Liu, Yujie, Wu, Xingyang
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.624 pp. 133-144
burning, fractionation, isotopes, mercury, rain, China
Although the investigation of mercury (Hg) isotopes in precipitation has largely improved our knowledge of the source and transformation of Hg in the atmosphere, rainwater investigated in previous studies were integrated samples collected over an event and could obscure key information about the physiochemical transformation and deposition dynamics of Hg (and its isotopes) in short precipitation events. In this study, we investigated Hg isotopic composition of filtered (HgF) and particulate Hg (HgPM) in sequential rain samples from three single rainfall events in Guiyang, China. All samples showed a decrease of total Hg concentration, as well as HgF and HgPM with time in each rainfall event, and large variation of both mass-dependent fractionation (MDF) and mass-independent fractionation of odd Hg isotopes (odd-MIF) for both phases. Isotopic data indicated variable contributions of different sources triggered by the instant change of meteorological conditions, rather than internal atmospheric processes. The rapid response of MDF and odd-MIF of precipitation samples to the incense burning on the Tomb Sweeping Day implied that Hg isotopic composition was very sensitive to the momentary anthropogenic emission, which could have at least a regional short-lived effect and should be taken into account in future studies. Hg isotopes are a powerful tool for investigating both atmospheric transformation and instant deposition dynamic of Hg, and like stable H and O isotopes, could provide useful information about local or regional meteorological changes.