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Otoliths, shells and plants as potential archives of heavy metal pollution in Greenland investigated using LA-ICP-MS - 2016


Project start
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Type of project
Project theme
Marine ecosystems
Project topic
Climate research

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Fieldwork region
Greenland, Mid-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 71.126389, -51.277778

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Fieldwork end

Project details

Science / project plan
Project discription: Otoliths, shells and plants as potential archives of heavy metal pollution in Greenland investigated using LA-ICP-MS

Recent development of analytical techniques such as Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) has allowed biologically formed solids including otoliths, shells and wood to be analyzed for heavy metals with high spatial resolution and low detection limits. All these solids grow during the lifetime of the organism, have an ability to incorporate heavy metals in their structure and therefore potentially contain a complete chemical record of the organism’s exposure history. A previous study conducted under the ASP investigated sculpin otoliths as potential recorders of heavy metal pollution in Greenland (Søndergaard et al., 2015). The study showed promising results but also that further studies are needed before LA-ICP-MS analyses of sculpin otoliths can be implemented for environmental monitoring purposes. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential for other biologically formed solids such as shells of snails and mussels, otoliths from Greenlandic Cod and branches from Arctic Willow as records of pollution. These will be collected at different locations near the former lead-zinc mine at Maarmorilik in West Greenland. Furthermore, otoliths from sculpins that have been subjected to controlled heavy metal exposure tests at the Denmark's Aquarium will be investigated, which will add to the previous ASP study. If applicable, the methods will provide a valuable additional tool for environmental monitoring near mine sites in Greenland.

Link to ASP web-site