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KRIOSFERA ZEMLI, 2011, Vol. XV, № 4, p. 21-25

Landscape geochemical tracers of contamination in deltas of rivers discharging into the Arctic basin

E.M. Korobova1, N.G. Ukraintseva2, V.V. Surkov3, E.A. Dombrovskaya2

1 Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, 19, Kosygin str., Moscow, 119991, Russia; korobova@geokhi.ru
2 Institute of Earth’s Cryosphere, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
PO box 1230, Tyumen, 625000, Russia; ukraintseva@mail.ru
3 Lomonosov Moscow State University, Department of Geography,
1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russia; vsurkov@yandex.ru

Terrestrial ecosystems located in the Yenisei and Pechora delta and estuary zones have been studied for radionuclide and heavy metal contamination from remote global and regional sources. Radionuclides and heavy metals in soil, water, and plants were determined at different distances from the sea on landscape-geochemical transects across riverbanks and delta islands. In the Yenisei delta and estuary zone, local 137Cs accumulation was found being associated with operation of the Krasnoyarsk Chemical Combine. The highest 137Cs were measured at test sites located on islands within the Yenisei delta front, which thus appears to be a natural barrier for river-borne contaminant fluxes into the Arctic basin. Heavy metals (Cu and Ni) in mosses and willow (leaves) species collected on terraces and watersheds in the lower Yenisey showed a slowly increasing trend toward the Norilsk Combine. The measured 137Cs contamination of the Pechora test sites was within the global background. Relatively high Cu and Zn were revealed in Pechora water sampled 3 km downstream of Naryan-Mar city. These patterns may be used for purposive contamination tracing.

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