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Sci Total Environ. 2005 Sep 15;348(1-3):211-30. Epub 2005 Apr 26.

Spatial patterns of cadmium and lead deposition on and adjacent to National Park Service lands in the vicinity of Red Dog Mine, Alaska.

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  • 1National Park Service, Kotzebue, AK 99752, USA.


Heavy metal escapement associated with ore trucks is known to occur along the DeLong Mountain Regional Transportation System (DMTS) haul road corridor in Cape Krusenstern National Monument, northwest Alaska. Heavy metal concentrations in Hylocomium splendens moss (n = 226) were used in geostatistical models to predict the extent and pattern of atmospheric deposition of Cd and Pb on Monument lands. A stratified grid-based sample design was used with more intensive sampling near mine-related activity areas. Spatial predictions were used to produce maps of concentration patterns, and to estimate the total area in 10 moss concentration categories. Heavy metal levels in moss were highest immediately adjacent to the DMTS haul road (Cd > 24 mg/kg dw; Pb > 900 mg/kg dw). Spatial regression analyses indicated that heavy metal deposition decreased with the log of distance from the DMTS haul road and the DMTS port site. Analysis of subsurface soil suggested that observed patterns of heavy metal deposition reflected in moss were not attributable to subsurface lithology at the sample points. Further, moss Pb concentrations throughout the northern half of the study area were high relative to concentrations previously reported from other Arctic Alaska sites. Collectively, these findings indicate the presence of mine-related heavy metal deposition throughout the northern portion of Cape Krusenstern National Monument. Geospatial analyses suggest that the Pb depositional area extends 25 km north of the haul road to the Kisimilot/Iyikrok hills, and possibly beyond. More study is needed to determine whether higher moss heavy metal concentrations in the northernmost portion of the study area reflect deposition from mining-related activities, weathering from mineralized Pb/Zn outcrops in the broader region, or a combination of the two. South of the DMTS haul road, airborne deposition appears to be constrained by the Tahinichok Mountains. Heavy metal levels continue to diminish south of the mountains, reaching a minimum in the southernmost portion of the study area near the Igichuk Hills (45 km from the haul road). The influence of the mine site was not studied.

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