Mercury in geological materials and fuels from Bulgaria: past and present as a key for a sustainable future

The project “Mercury in geological materials and fuels from Bulgaria: past and present as a key for a sustainable future” started on Dec 15th 2022. The three-year long project is funded by the National Science Fund contract # № КП-06-ПН64/2 under the “Competition for financial Support for basic research projects – 2022” call.

Mercury is a chemical element with a complex geochemical and biochemical cycling, multiple industrial applications, and extremely toxic effects on human health and the environment. The main goal of the proposed research is to understand the availability and geochemical affinity of Hg in surface and subsurface materials and fuels from Bulgaria. This goal will be achieved by focusing our efforts on the following tangible and measurable objectives: (1) Characterize the mercury contents of biofuels, coal, crude oil, and processed petroleum products from Bulgaria as potential contributors to anthropogenic Hg emissions; (2) Determine the mercury contents of sedimentary rocks from targeted geologic intervals as a tool for paleoreconstruction of significant geologic events; (3) Define the major geochemical and biochemical factors controlling Hg enrichment in geologic and biologic materials; and (4) Identify regional trends in Hg re-distribution in the environment based on a case study of geologic materials, fuels, waters, and soils next to a particular major industrial Hg emitter.

Our results will help the implementation of informed strategies for monitoring and reduction of Hg emissions in Bulgaria and for minimizing Hg-related health risks and environmental harms. Moreover, our new data will improve our fundamental understanding of geochemical reservoirs and processes controlling Hg distribution in the environment, and refine paleoreconstructions of major geologic events controlling climate and evolution on Earth. Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Svetoslav Georgiev (, lead PI.

Period: 2022 - 2025