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TitleImpact of a base metal smelter on the geochemistry of soils of the Flin Flon region, Manitoba and Saskatchewan
AuthorMcMartin, I; Henderson, P J; Nielsen, E
SourceCanadian Journal of Earth Sciences vol. 36, no. 2, 1999 p. 141-160, (Open Access)
Alt SeriesGeological Survey of Canada, Contribution Series 1997032
PublisherCanadian Science Publishing
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceManitoba; Saskatchewan
NTS63J/03; 63J/04; 63J/05; 63J/06; 63J/11; 63J/12; 63J/13; 63J/14; 63K; 63L/01; 63L/02; 63L/07; 63L/08; 63L/09; 63L/10; 63L/15; 63L/16; 63M/01; 63M/02; 63N/01; 63N/02; 63N/03; 63N/04; 63O/03; 63O/04
AreaFlin Flon
Lat/Long WENS-103.0000 -99.0000 54.0000 51.2500
Subjectsgeochemistry; environmental geology; base metals; smelters; zinc geochemistry; lead geochemistry; copper geochemistry; arsenic geochemistry; cadmium geochemistry; mercury geochemistry; geochemical analyses; humus geochemistry; heavy metals geochemistry; heavy metals contamination; environmental studies; environmental impacts; till geochemistry; soil geochemistry; nickel geochemistry; chromium geochemistry; calcium geochemistry; iron geochemistry; magnesium geochemistry; trace element geochemistry; minor element geochemistry
Illustrationssketch maps; geochemical analyses
ProgramShield Margin NATMAP Project
AbstractThe regional dispersal patterns of six trace metals (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn) emitted from the base metal smelter at Flin Flon were examined in surface soils and at depth, using an extensive regional geochemical database for humus and the underlying till. Humus is enriched in those elements emitted from the smelter, and regional dispersal patterns reflect the historical record of smelter contamination. The concentrations of the smelter metals decrease with increasing distance from the stack, until background values are reached, indicating atmospheric fallout from the smelter plume. Smelter contamination is generally restricted to the surface organic-rich horizons, and concentrations of smelter metals in till reflect the absence of significant contamination at depth in the upper C horizon of soils. The maximum radius of contamination varies among the major smelter metals, ranging from 70 km for Cd to 104 km for As. No direct relationship exists among emission, deposition, and sink concentrations, reflecting the complexity of factors influencing total metal concentrations in soils. Factors considered in this study include the natural geochemical signature of the underlying substrate, natural soil-forming processes such as biogeochemical enrichment in the surface
organic layer and post-depositional mobilization of metals, and the variation in total metal concentrations among the different fractions and types of samples analysed. With increasing distance from the smelter, these factors become significant and the relative proportion of anthropogenic contamination in the surface terrestrial environment is more difficult to estimate.