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Mercury and other trace metals in the seasonal snowpack across the subarctic taiga-tundra ecotone, Northwest Territories, Canada
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
Geological Survey of Canada .
Geological Survey of Canada .
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
(English)In: Applied Geochemistry, ISSN 0883-2927, E-ISSN 1872-9134Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keyword [en]
Snow, trace metals, mercury, aerosols, Canada, subarctic, Mackenzie River
National Category
Geochemistry
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Environmental Analysis
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-317565OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-317565DiVA: diva2:1082309
Note

In Canada's Northwest Territories, mining for base metals and diamonds are vital economic activities which carry risks of adverse environmental impacts. To gather baseline geochemical data against which the impact of future mining activities may be measured, a survey of trace metal concentrations in snow was carried out in 2012 along a 285-km stretch of winter mining road crossing the taiga-tundra ecotone between latitudes 62.8 and 65.5° N. The distribution of 17 elements, including mercury (Hg), was measured and mapped. Results indicate that road traffic along the winter road has only a modest impact on the metal content of the nearby tundra-taiga snowpack, and that this impact is largely due to the mobilization of soil dust and associated elements. However, some enrichment of As, Pb, Sr and Zn in snow was detected near former gold mine sites, likely reflecting the windborne dispersion of contaminated soils. The Hg concentrations in snow across the study area were generally low (≤ 3.01 ng L-1), and did not covary with any other metals, which suggests atmospheric deposition from distant/diffuse sources. An analysis of air mass back-trajectories pointed to the most likely distant (>103 km) anthropogenic source regions being eastern Asia or Russia. Using Hg data from the present survey and another source, in combination with gridded maps of snowpack water equivalent, we calculated the potential flux of atmospherically-derived Hg that could be released by spring snowmelt into the Mackenzie River to be in the order of ~195-404 kg a-1, which may represent a substantial fraction of the estimated total Hg discharge to the Beaufort Sea.

Available from: 2017-03-16 Created: 2017-03-16 Last updated: 2017-03-16

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