Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Anthony Hynes

Second Committee Member

Matthew Landis

Third Committee Member

Daniel Riemer

Fourth Committee Member

Jose Rodriguez


Over the last decade our understanding of mercury cycling has dramatically changed. Evidence of rapid atmospheric oxidation has been observed in the Arctic, Antarctic, the MBL, coastal environments, saline lakes, and the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere. These results show that, Hg0, can undergo rapid gas-phase oxidation under standard atmospheric conditions. However, the mechanism and importance of this transformation is still unclear. The goal of this work was two-fold: to investigate of the kinetics of potential pathway for the gas phase oxidation of atmospheric mercury and to develop new laser based techniques, which can be employed for both laboratory and field studies of Hg(0) and the products of mercury oxidation. First and foremost, this work determined kinetic rate coefficients for the potentially important mercury reactions. Rate coefficients were determined using a Pulse Laser Photolysis - Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLP-LIF) technique monitoring one or more of the following species, Hg(0), Cl, Br, HgCl, and HgBr. The concentrations of these species were measured by LIF as the reaction occurred and a concentration vs. time profile was generated. From these profiles a rate coefficient for the reaction can be obtained. In the course of this work kinetic rate coefficients for the following mercury reactions were measured. Hg(0) + Cl + M --> HgCl + M Hg(0) + Br + M --> HgBr + M HgBr + M --> Hg(0) + Br + M HgBr + Br --> products HgCl + O2 --> products This work is the first direct measurement of a kinetic rate coefficient for these reactions, and the first work which employed one photon LIF to monitor the HgCl and HgBr products. The second aspect of this work was the development of new laser based techniques to detect atmospheric mercury and its oxidation products for both laboratory and field application. In this work a LIF technique was develop to detect HgCl and HgBr. In addition, a two photon LIF technique initially developed by Bauer et al., 2002 was verified and expanded. The two photon LIF technique was used to directly monitor Hg(0) atoms in-situ, to monitor Hg(0) evolving form a gold tube, and to monitor the Hg(0) evolving from the thermal decomposition of reactive gaseous mercury collected on a KCl coated or uncoated denuder. This work represents a significant advance in the development of a viable method the detect mercury and the mercury oxidation products in the laboratory and in the field and is the first study to observe clear differences in the characteristic desorption profiles of HgO and HgX2. This work has broad implications, it enhanced our current knowledge concerning the biogeochemical cycling of mercury, broadened our understanding of the mercury chemistry in high halogen environment, and provided new techniques which can be applied in future field and laboratory studies.


Gaseous Elemental Mercury; Gas Phase Kinetics; Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Events (AMDE); Halogens; Laser Induced Flourescence (LIF); Atmospheric Oxidation; Bromine