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Sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to northwestern Saskatchewan lakes east of the Athabasca oil sands.

Ahad, Jason M. E.; Jautzy, Josué; Cumming, Brian F.; Das, Biplob; Laird, Kathleen R.; Sanei, Hamed (2015). Sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to northwestern Saskatchewan lakes east of the Athabasca oil sands. Organic Geochemistry , vol. 80 . p. 35-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2015.01.001.

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Résumé

The past several decades have witnessed a significant expansion of mining activities in the Athabasca oil sands region, raising concerns about their impact on the surrounding boreal forest ecosystem. To better understand the extent to which distal sites are impacted by oil sands-derived airborne contaminants, we examine sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface sediments and dated sediment cores from Saskatchewan lakes situated ∼100–220 km east-northeast of the main area of bitumen mining activities. The concentrations and fluxes of both parent and alkylated PAHs are low and show considerable variability over the past 70–100 years. Small yet discernible increases in PAH concentrations and fluxes occurred over the past 30 years, a trend which coincides with the rapid growth in bitumen production. However, several lines of evidence point to wildfires as the principal source of PAHs to these lakes: (1) the significant co-variations in most cores between retene (1-methyl-7-isopropyl phenanthrene) and other groups of parent and alkylated PAHs, (2) the similarity in compound specific δ¹³C signatures of the parent PAHs phenanthrene and pyrene in recently deposited surficial sediments and those corresponding to time intervals considerably pre-dating the large scale development of the oil sands, and (3) the discernible up-core increases in the proportion of refractory carbon (i.e., char) in Rock-Eval 6 data. The collective evidence points to softwood combustion from boreal forest fires as the principal source of retene in sediments and the general increase in forest fire activity in this region over the past several decades as the source of refractory carbon. Mining activities associated with the Athabasca oil sands are thus not considered a major source of PAHs to these lakes.

Type de document: Article
Mots-clés libres: athabasca oil sands; bitumen; alkylated PAHs; retene; sediment cores; forest fire; compound specific carbon isotope analysis; Rock-Eval
Centre: Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Date de dépôt: 25 avr. 2018 15:54
Dernière modification: 25 avr. 2018 15:54
URI: http://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/4290

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