Extreme levels of fallout radionuclides and other contaminants in glacial sediment (cryoconite) and implications for downstream aquatic ecosystems View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:ScholarlyArticle      Open Access: True


Article Info

DATE

2019-08-29

AUTHORS

Philip N. Owens, William H. Blake, Geoffrey E. Millward

ABSTRACT

Glaciers in most parts of the world are retreating, releasing water and sediments to downstream rivers. Studies have found elevated levels of fallout radionuclides (FRNs) and other contaminants in glacial sediments, especially cryoconite, in European glaciers and Greenland. However, there are no equivalent studies for glaciers in North America. We report concentrations of FRNs (i.e. 137Cs, 210Pbun and 241Am) and other contaminants (i.e. metal(loids), phosphorus) in cryoconite and proglacial sediments from a glacier in British Columbia, Canada, and compare values to suspended sediments from the downstream river. The mean concentrations of 137Cs, 210Pbun and 241Am in cryoconite were 2,123 ± 74, 7,535 ± 224 and 11.5 ± 3.0 Bq kg−1, respectively, which are an order of magnitude greater than those for most soils and surficial materials. FRNs were much lower in suspended sediments and decreased with distance away from the glacier. Geochemical elements were enriched in cryoconite relative to local clastic materials and upper continental crust. Concentrations of FRNs in cryoconite were correlated with organic matter, which suggests this is important in controlling the scavenging of hydrophobic contaminants in glacial meltwater. Low concentrations of FRNs and contaminants in suspended sediments suggest that glacial meltwater and the delivery of cryoconite have limited impact on downstream aquatic ecosystems. More... »

PAGES

12531

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41598-019-48873-z

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48873-z

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1120691841

PUBMED

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31467323


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