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Element concentrations of environmental concern in surface sediment samples from a broad marine area of 25 de Mayo (King George) Island, South Shetland Islands.

Sci Total Environ; 646: 757-769, 2019 Jan 01.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30064102
Western Antarctica (WA) constitutes the area with the highest human presence in the white continent and also the region where the effects of global warming are more evident worldwide. Such human presence represents a potential risk of pollution with both, organic and inorganic contaminants. Global warming also could modify dynamics and transport of the pollutants, increasing summer water runoff, ice melting and iceberg scouring. Under this fast-changing scenario, knowledge about the concentration of contaminants is essential to evaluate the environmental status of this ecologically relevant area. In this work, we performed the first regional-scale monitoring of 9 trace elements (Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Pb, Cd and Hg), as well as Fe and Mn, in surface sediment from 64 sites comprising six different areas in Maxwell Bay, 25 de Mayo (King George) Island. Target elements were quantified in surface sediment samples (20-30 m depth) obtained during two summer Antarctic expeditions: 2010/11 and 2011/12 by inductively coupled plasma linked to a quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). Based on the average values observed for the reference areas, baseline values were defined for the studied region. A regional enrichment in Cu (compared with the global mean upper crust) was observed and related to the widespread mineralization of volcanic rocks. The most anthropized area (South Fildes) mainly showed sediment class 3 (moderately polluted) for Pb, Cd and Hg with a number samples revealing some highly contaminated hot spots. Although elemental contamination in some samples close to scientific stations or sites where logistic operations were evidenced, a pollution pattern was not clearly identified. The present work represents the first regional-scale attempt to define the baseline values and the anthropic impacts in this region of the WA and also provides the first data about Hg concentration in surface sediment of the study area.