Geochemical pollution of trace metals in permafrost-affected soil in the Russian Arctic marginal environment

Xiaowen Ji, Evgeny Abakumov, Vitaly Tomashunas, Vyacheslav Polyakov, Sergey Kouzov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The Arctic marginal environment has been considered as far from industrial areas and low population. During June–July of 2016 “Russian High Latitude” expedition, 93 samples of soil genetic horizon from 25 soil profiles dug till frozen ground were sampled from 8 islands and 2 capes of the Russian Arctic without direct anthropogenic influences. Nine trace metals (Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, Co, Zn, Fe, Mn and Hg) were measured and quantified by energy-dispersive X-ray analysis for elemental concentrations. Through analysis of divided soil groups (Haplothels, Turbels, Historthels), the factors of organic matter and cryoturbation had a significant influence on metals’ distribution except for Fe and Mn. From summarized soil master horizons (O, A, B, C), Fe and Mn are abundant in all horizons suggesting as geochemical background values. Cu, Pb, Co and Ni are distributed specifically in different horizons with leaching and accumulation process, whereas Hg is evenly disturbed in all horizons. The correlation analysis reveals that distribution of most metals in present soils is highly depended on soil properties (pH, TOC, clay and silt). Li was selected as normalizing element for metals’ concentrations from mineral layers to establish geochemical baseline concentrations. The concentrations of trace metals have been assessed by geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and enrichment factor, showing only Co and Zn are moderately polluted and slightly polluted, and Co, Cu, Zn and Pb are enriched in topsoil. Other indices as modified degree of contamination (mCdegree) and pollution load index (PLI), mCdegree show moderate degree of pollution and PLI shows unpolluted to moderate pollution load. The ecological risk indices, e.g., ecological risk factor (Er) and potential ecological risk index, show low ecological risk potential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
StateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Arctic
  • Ecological risk
  • Permafrost
  • Soil pollution
  • Trace metals


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