SEGH Articles

Dust Deposition in snow from NorthEast Antarctica: mineralogical, morphological and chemical characterization

05 October 2014
Aubry Vanderstraeten is a PhD student and won the runner-up prize for best student poster at SEGH 2014.

 

Mineral dusts are a major source of micronutrients (e.g. Fe) that limit phytoplankton growth in the open ocean, in particular in the so-called “High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll” (HNLC) oceanic zones. The southern Ocean is by far the largest of all HNLC regions and thus has the potential to greatly enhance the biological CO2 pump at the global scale. As the aerosol fluxes and sources in the southern Ocean are not well constrained and the potential impact of anthropogenic airborne particles may be larger than expected, a multidisciplinary study is being carried out on dust-bearing snow samples collected in NE Antarctica. Our goals are multiple: (i) determine the mineralogy, morphology and chemical composition of these dusts and, (ii) quantify, by using heavy stable isotopic signatures, the origin and the relative contribution of desert-derived, volcanic and anthropogenic particles in the dust, (iii) estimate the bioavailable fraction of bio-essential elements such as Fe through chemical extraction.

Snow samples were collected at four sites: two a few kilometres from the sea, at the summit of the Derwael Ice Rise (about 200km North of the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station) and two other locations in a continental area (~225km inland) around the Princess Elisabeth station in the Sør Rondane Mountains. Three litres of snow from each site were melted and filtrated on 0.2 µm poresize NucleporeÓ polycarbonate filters in an ISO 5-class clean room. Subsequently, a series of single particle analyses were performed by (i) FEG-SEM (Field Emission Gun-Scanning Electron Microscopy) to determine particles-size distribution of dust; (ii) automated-SEM-EDS (Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy) to estimate the chemical composition of individual dust particles; (iii) TEM-SAED analysis (Transmission Electron Microscopy Selected Area Electron Diffraction) to identify the minerals present. In addition, trace element compositions of the bulk samples were analyzed by high-resolution ICP-MS.

Preliminary data in elemental composition and mineralogy indicate similarities between dust samples and the rock-forming minerals from the Sør Rondane Mountains suggesting a local dust source. However, major distinctions can be made between coastal and inland dust samples: (i) mineralogical distributions are very distinct; (ii) a large proportion of the quartz and feldspath dust particles exhibit surprisingly enrichment in iron (less than 20% of particles for inland samples and up to 80% for coastal samples), which is probably due to surface Fe-rich coating/aggregates; (iii) coastal samples are heavily enriched (vs. upper continental crust reference values) in Pb and Ni. These Fe, Pb and Ni enrichment trends tend to suggest an external and distal source of dust at the coast, potentially impacted by anthropogenic activities.

To complement those preliminary results, new sampling campaign will take place in December 2014 at the same locations to acquire large quantity of snow. In addition, passive dust collectors will be placed for a period of one year along a transect connecting the Sør Rondane Mountains and the Derwael Ice Rise. The perspectives of this new sampling campaign aim to fulfil our analysis plan through isotopic analyses and chemical extractions.

This in-depth characterisation study will improve our knowledge and understanding of dusts reaching the coast of NE-Antarctica, which represent a proxy of the dust materials supplied to the Southern Ocean. 

by Aubry Vanderstraeten, PhD student

Keep up to date

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Membrane fouling control by Ca 2+ during coagulation–ultrafiltration process for algal-rich water treatment 2019-04-16

    Abstract

    Seasonal algal bloom, a water supply issue worldwide, can be efficiently solved by membrane technology. However, membranes typically suffer from serious fouling, which hinders the wide application of this technology. In this study, the feasibility of adding Ca2+ to control membrane fouling in coagulation–membrane treatment of algal-rich water was investigated. According to the results obtained, the normalized membrane flux decreased by a lower extent upon increasing the concentration of Ca2+ from 0 to 10 mmol/L. Simultaneously, the floc particle size increased significantly with the concentration of Ca2+, which leads to a lower hydraulic resistance. The coagulation performance is also enhanced with the concentration of Ca2+, inducing a slight osmotic pressure-induced resistance. The formation of Ca2+ coagulation flocs resulted in a looser, thin, and permeable cake layer on the membrane surface. This cake layer rejected organic pollutants and could be easily removed by physical and chemical cleaning treatments, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy images. The hydraulic irreversible membrane resistance was significantly reduced upon addition of Ca2+. All these findings suggest that the addition of Ca2+ may provide a simple-operation, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly technology for controlling membrane fouling during coagulation–membrane process for algal-rich water treatment.

  • Evaluation of the raw water quality: physicochemical and toxicological approaches 2019-04-13

    Abstract

    Environmental degradation has increased, mainly as a result of anthropogenic effects arising from population, industrial and agricultural growth. Water pollution is a problem that affects health, safety and welfare of the whole biota which shares the same environment. In Goiânia and metropolitan region, the main water body is the Meia Ponte River that is used for the abstraction of water, disposal of treated wastewater and effluents. In addition, this river receives wastewater from urban and rural areas. The aim in this present study was to evaluate the quality of raw water by some physical, chemical and toxicological tests. The physicochemical results found high levels of turbidity, conductivity, aluminum, phosphorus and metal iron, manganese, copper and lithium when compared to the standards of the Brazilian legislation. The values found of toxicity demonstrated a high degree of cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. Therefore, it was concluded that the Meia Ponte River has been undergoing constant environmental degradation, causing the poor quality of its waters. Thus, measures for the prevention and recovery should be adopted for the maintenance of the Meia Ponte River.

  • Review of the nature of some geophagic materials and their potential health effects on pregnant women: some examples from Africa 2019-04-11

    Abstract

    The voluntary human consumption of soil known as geophagy is a global practice and deep-rooted in many African cultures. The nature of geophagic material varies widely from the types to the composition. Generally, clay and termite mound soils are the main materials consumed by geophagists. Several studies revealed that gestating women across the world consume more soil than other groups for numerous motives. These motivations are related to medicinal, cultural and nutrients supplementation. Although geophagy in pregnancy (GiP) is a universal dynamic habit, the highest prevalence has been reported in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa. Geophagy can be both beneficial and detrimental. Its health effects depend on the amount and composition of the ingested soils, which is subjective to the geology and soil formation processes. In most cases, the negative health effects concomitant with the practice of geophagy eclipse the positive effects. Therefore, knowledge about the nature of geophagic material and the health effects that might arise from their consumption is important.