Mercury is a widespread contaminant in our oceans, most of which got there as a result of human activity. Mining from coal-fired power plants, incinerators and cement factories released mercury into the atmosphere which later entered the ocean either directly as deposits or flowing from rivers and streams. As a result, the food nets of marine ecosystems, including the seafood we eat, contain mercury combinations, and new research has discovered in unusual ways that mercury can travel to even the deepest regions of the ocean.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), describes how corpses submerged in nearby surface water carry mercury contamination in their tissues to the most inaccessible and inaccessible sections of the world’s oceans. Mercury deposits from the fall of the fish were even found in the deepest seabed, including the Marian Trench in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, at 10,972 meters (36,000 feet) below sea level.
The study first analyzed isotopic compositions about the mercury of marine life on the shores of two deep oceans in the Pacific Ocean. Their results proved to be man-made mercury in deep-sea-trench organisms, including fish and crustaceans. A research paper published in the journal Nature in July pointed to the sinking of organic particles as the mercury traveled to the bottom of the ocean, but the latest paper team thought the corpse was probably more of a culprit.
Mercury is composed of various isotopes and various combinations of these laws like unique fingerprints that can be used to identify potential sources of mercury deposits. Using this fingerprinting technique, the team was able to detect that the mercury they found in deep-sea trench organisms included snails and amphibians, located near the surface of the Pacific Ocean but not like the drowning Detritus. Their results supported the hypothesis that sinking corpses were a more likely source of mercury off the coast than sinking particles, which was identified as a factor in nature studies.
“We studied the trench biota because they live in the deepest and most remote parts of the world, and we expect that there is mercury almost exclusively from geological sources – from deep-sea volcanic sources,” geologist Joel Blum, a geologist and lead author of the PNAS paper, told the University of Michigan Environment, in a statement. “Our most amazing finding is that we found mercury in creatures from deep-sea trenches that provide evidence of the sun rising in the surface area of the ocean.
“It was widely believed that ethnographic mercury was originally confined to one thousand meters above sea level, but we have found that some of these deep-sea trenches have natural sources of mercury, probably from most human activity.”