Levels, sources and influence mechanisms of heavy metal contamination in topsoils in Mirror Peninsula, East Antarctica.

Affiliation

Institute of Polar Environment & Anhui Key Laboratory of Polar Environment and Global Change, School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, Anhui, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Heavy metal contaminants in Mirror Peninsula, East Antarctica, have rarely been studied and the source and influencing factors are poorly understood. We sampled a grid of 189 topsoil samples from Mirror Peninsula and analyzed the concentrations of Zn, Cu, U, Cr, Ga, Pb, Hg, Se and As; we also calculated the chemical index of alteration (CIA), a proxy of weathering. The results show that the distributions of Cr, Ga, Cu, and Zn are associated with weathering; the distributions of As and Pb are related to vehicle use and unloading activities at the wharfs, respectively; and the distribution of Hg is likely associated with both anthropogenic impacts and biological activity. The contamination level of these heavy metals in Mirror Peninsula is relatively low and within the controllable range. Both weathering processes and anthropogenic impacts can cause the enrichment of heavy metals; thus reliable source apportionment is crucial in studying heavy metal enrichment and contamination.

Keywords

Antarctic contamination,Heavy metal,Human impacts,Source apportionment,Weathering,

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