Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Research Sponsor

James McManus

First Reader

John Senko

Second Reader

John Peck


A series of three sediment cores were collected in Lake Tanganyika, Africa, and were analyzed for mercury concentrations. For all three cores, a decrease in mercury (Hg) levels was observed from the 1600’s (appx. 20 ng/g) until concentrations reached a minimum during the mid-1800’s (appx. 10 ng/g). The mid-1800’s marked a change from decreasing mercury levels to an increase over the following century. The core tops (circa 2006) have concentrations greater than 70 ng/g. The onset of the rise in mercury concentrations coincides with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid to late 18th century. Relationships between previously analyzed d13C values in carbonates and Hg concentrations suggest that the mercury levels in this system are dominated by fossil fuel combustion rather than other anthropogenic impacts.