Geochemical and anthropogenic enrichments of Mo in sediments from perennially oxic and seasonally anoxic lakes in Eastern Canada

Anthony Chappaz, Charles Gobeil, André Tessier

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79 Scopus citations


We measured the vertical distributions of Mo, Fe, Mn, sulfide, sulfate, organic carbon, major ions, and pH in sediment porewater from one perennially oxic and three seasonally anoxic lacustrine basins in Eastern Canada, as well as those of Mo, acid volatile sulfide, Fe, Mn, Al, organic C, 210Pb and 137Cs in sediment cores from the same sites. The only input of anthropogenic Mo to these lakes comes from atmospheric deposition. The relatively monotonous distribution of Mo in the porewater of three seasonally anoxic basins suggests that Mo is not redistributed in the sedimentary column during periods of anoxia. In contrast, porewater Mo profiles obtained at three sampling dates in a perennially oxic basin display sharp Mo peaks below the sediment-water interface, indicating redistribution subsequent to deposition. Modeling of these latter porewater Mo profiles with a diagenetic reaction-transport equation coupled to comparisons among the various porewater and solid phase profiles reveal that Mo is released at 1-2 cm depth as a consequence of the reductive dissolution of Fe oxyhydroxides and scavenged both at the vicinity of the sediment-water interface, by re-adsorption onto authigenic Fe oxyhydroxides, and deeper in the sediments where dissolved sulfide concentrations are higher. The estimated rate constant for the adsorption of Mo onto Fe oxyhydroxides is 36 ± 45 cm3 mol-1 s-1. Diagenetic modeling indicates that authigenic Mo in sediments of the perennially oxic basin represents about one-third of the total solid phase Mo in the first cm below the sediment-water interface and only one tenth below this horizon. If we assume that no authigenic Mo is accumulated in the seasonally anoxic lake sediments we conclude that the sediment Mo concentrations, which are up to 3-16 times higher than the average lithogenic composition, depending on the lake, are mainly due to atmospheric deposition of anthropogenic Mo and not to the formation of authigenic Mo phases. Reconstructed historical records of the atmospheric Mo deposition indicate maximum values in the 1970s and 1980s and significant decreases since then. Emissions to the atmosphere associated with the smelting of non-ferrous ores and coal combustion appear to be the most important sources of anthropogenic Mo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-184
Number of pages15
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


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