We examined the historical deposition of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) recorded in radiometrically-dated lake sediment cores from a small, conventional oil and gas operation in the southern Northwest Territories (Cameron Hills), and placed these results in the context of previously published work from three other important regions of western Canada: (1) the Athabasca oil sands region in Alberta; (2) Cold Lake, Alberta; and (3) the Mackenzie Delta, NT. Sediment PAC records from the Cameron Hills showed no clear changes in either source or concentrations coincident with the timing of development in these regions. Changes were small in comparison to the clear increases in both parent and alkyl-substituted PACs in response to industrial development from the Athabasca region surface mining of oil sands, where parent PAC diagnostic ratios indicated a shift from pyrogenic sources (primarily wood and coal burning) in pre-development sediments to more petrogenically-sourced PACs in modern sediments. Cores near in-situ oil sand extraction operations showed only modest increases in PAC deposition. This work directly compares the history and trajectory of contamination in lake ecosystems in areas of western Canada impacted by the most common types of hydrocarbon extraction activities, and provides a context for assessing the environmental impacts of oil and gas development in the future.
Aarhus University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Bioscience, Arctic Research Centre, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark; Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Department of Environment and Mineral Resources, Nuuk, Greenland. Electronic address: email@example.com.
The former lead-zinc mine at Mestersvig, Greenland, continues to contaminate the surrounding environment despite its operations ceasing over 50 years ago. Elevated concentrations of heavy metals are found in water, sediment and biota in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. To shed light on the present contamination and its potential effects on local fish we investigated gill and liver histology of sculpins (Myoxocephalus spp.) around the former mining area. Two species of sculpins were caught; shorthorn sculpins (M. scorpius; n?=?16) and fourhorn sculpins (M. quadricornis; n?=?17) at a contaminated site, Nyhavn, and shorthorn sculpins (M. scorpius; n?=?25) at the reference site. In a previous study we found histopathological changes in the tissues of the sculpins, and we suspected this to be related to elevated heavy metal tissue concentrations. Concentrations of Fe, Hg, Mn, Pb, Se and Zn were significantly higher in sculpins at Nyhavn compared to the reference site. Reference NOED and LOEC thresholds for biochemistry, tissue lesions, growth, survival and reproduction for hepatic Hg, As, Cd and Pb from the ERED database were exceeded in both sculpin species. Histopathological investigations of the sculpins gills revealed significant increases in the prevalence of hyperplastic epithelium, inflammation, intensity of neutral and total mucus cells and chloride cells along with an increased infection of colonial Peritricha. At the contaminated Nyhavn site, fourhorn sculpins had a significantly higher prevalence of chondroplastic tissue and intensity of neutral, mixed and total mucus cells in the gills compared to the shorthorn sculpins. The data indicate that both sculpin species could be useful indicator species for environmental monitoring of metal pollution in Arctic areas. However, confounding effects of gender and species should be investigated further. Effects on other biomarkers as well as baseline measurements should be included in future environmental monitoring efforts around mining activities in Greenland.
Peatlands are used for the purification of mining-affected waters in Northern Finland. In Northern climate, microorganisms in treatment peatlands (TPs) are affected by long and cold winters, but studies about those microorganisms are scarce. Thus, the bacterial, archaeal and fungal communities along gradients of mine water influence in two TPs were investigated. The TPs receive waters rich in contaminants, including arsenic (As), sulfate (SO42-) and nitrate (NO3-). Microbial diversity was high in both TPs, and microbial community composition differed between the studied TPs. Bacterial communities were dominated by Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi and Acidobacteria, archaeal communities were dominated by Methanomicrobia and the Candidate phylum Bathyarchaeota, and fungal communities were dominated by Ascomycota (Leotiomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Sordariomycetes). The functional potential of the bacterial and archaeal communities in TPs was predicted using PICRUSt. Sampling points affected by high concentrations of As showed higher relative abundance of predicted functions related to As resistance. Functions potentially involved in nitrogen and SO42- turnover in TPs were predicted for both TPs. The results obtained in this study indicate that (i) diverse microbial communities exist in Northern TPs, (ii) the functional potential of the peatland microorganisms is beneficial for contaminant removal in TPs and (iii) microorganisms in TPs are likely well-adapted to high contaminant concentrations as well as to the Northern climate.