Science Center Objects

The USGS Mercury Research Lab is a national leader in advancing mercury research and science, specializing in low-level mercury speciation and isotope analysis and mercury-source fingerprinting. The MRL leads national cutting-edge collaborative studies, including state-of-the-art sample analysis, methods development for field and lab procedures, and data interpretation and dissemination.

Source contribution of mercury in Great Lakes sediment

Mercury is global issue that is currently confronting resource managers and regulators worldwide. Historically, mercury remediation strategies have been difficult to evaluate, but with rapidly increasing scientific understanding, possible solutions can now be discussed. The USGS Mercury Research Lab (MRL) has become national leader and major contributor in advancing mercury research and science. Located in the Middleton, Wis., office of the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center, the MRL provides expert assistance to state and federal agencies, including the execution of research studies, sample analysis, methods development for field and lab procedures, data interpretation, and report publication. We strive to provide the best possible data and service by remaining on the cutting edge of mercury research and maintaining a state-of-the-art mercury analysis laboratory. 

Low-Level Speciation and Isotope Analysis

As recently as 15 years ago, researchers could not reliably measure the concentration of mercury in environmental samples due to the very low levels generally observed. The MRL has a well-established, international reputation for excellence in low-level quantification and speciation of mercury in all forms of environmental samples (water, sediment, biota, and air). We have developed and published most of our methods, but we continue to improve our capabilities and processes. One recent addition is the use of high-resolution mass-spectroscopy to make mercury-source fingerprinting possible. This new capability, when combined with our low-level speciation measurements, will provide previously unattainable scientific information on mercury in the environment. 

Mercury Research Lab interior

USGS Mercury Research Laboratory

Scientific Leadership, Study Design, and Execution

The MRL is involved in studies from Alaska to Florida, and from California to Maine. Frequently, our leading-edge studies are done collaboratively with large research teams both within and outside of the USGS, often designed to provide an answer to specific land-resource management questions from state and federal agencies. Our researchers are dedicated to continually providing scientific consultation and service to our cooperators.

Learn more about the Mercury Research Laboratory's capabilities and research.