Origin of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in lake sediments of the Mackenzie Delta

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Authors: Headley, JV; Marsh, P; Akre, CJ; Peru, KM; Lesack, L
Year: 2002
Journal: Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A-Toxic/Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering 37: 1159-1180
Title: Origin of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in lake sediments of the Mackenzie Delta
Abstract: The concentrations and distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were assessed in sediment cores from among 14 lakes from three regions comprising a transect across the central Mackenzie Delta. PAHs were consistently found in the lake sediments, with parent concentrations in the 20-200 ng/g range. Concentrations were generally independent of depth in the sediment cores and this pattern was similar among the 3 regions of the delta. Concentrations increased in a westerly direction among the regions. For some lakes, the concentration of PAHs decreased with decreasing flooding frequency, and decreasing sedimentation rates. For the latter, maximum concentrations occurred at shallower depths within the -sediment cores as flooding frequency among the lakes decreased. The distributions of C-0-C-4 alkylated 2- and 3- ring PAHs were consistent with a petrogenic origin, while the corresponding distribution of 4-ring PAHs appears to be more consistent with a biogenic or pyrogenic origin. Based on relative contributions to the overall PAH budget, a petrogenic source appears to be dominant. However, the pyrene/fluoranthene ratio is more consistent with a source derived from peat. The alkylated PAH profiles are inconsistent with those in the Athabasca River system, and supports a previously published hypothesis that the contribution of PAHs from the Athabasca oil sands to the lower Mackenzie River is minimal. A double ratio plot of chrysene vs dibenzothiophene, diagnostic of weathering, suggests most weathering occurred before the sediments were deposited in the lakes, while a double ratio plot of dibenzothiophene vs phenanthrene suggests a common source of PAHs across the delta, despite differing water sources from east to west across the delta. PAH inputs to the delta appear to mirror sediment inputs documented in previous work, where high sediment input from the Mackenzie mainstem during high floods dominates the delta sediment influx and masks any influence of the Peel River.
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