Selected elements in surface waters of Antarctica and their relations with the natural environment

The aim of the study was to specify the concentration of selected chemical elements in surface waters of King George Island, off the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The research encompassed six streams, a lake and an artificial water reservoir located on the western coast of Admiralty Bay. Measured hydrochemical parameters included pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and total and dissolved forms elements such as Al, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, Mn, Fe, As and Se. The values of pH, conductivity and TDS had the following ranges: 6.09–8.21, 6.0–875 µS cm−1 and 7.0–975 mg/L, respectively, and were typical for surface waters of Antarctica. Wide disparities were discovered regarding concentrations of the investigated elements, ranging from <0.01 µg/L for Cd to 510 µg/L for Fe, and differing from one water body to another. The investigated elements are discussed with reference to environmental conditions and anthropogenic factors. Concentrations of total and dissolved forms of elements are considered in connection with the composition of soil in their surroundings and with atmospheric deposition, mostly such as that took place locally. The increased levels of Pb and Zn concentrations in the immediate proximity of a research station suggested anthropogenic contamination.

Keywords: Antarctic surface waters; total and dissolved elements; baseline elements values; anthropogenic metal contamination

(Published: 21 March 2014)

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Citation: Polar Research 2014, 33, 21417,

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