Contaminants in marine sediments, Svalbard 1997

Updated 2000-10-26

Surface samples collected around Svalbard in 1997 have been analysed for total content of heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and a selection of pesticides. Sample localities have been selected to include areas not covered by previous investigations. Based on the data set and results from previous expeditions in the area, contamination levels as well as potential sources for the pollutants are discussed. The PAH levels for most stations are moderately elevated with a high contribution of aromatic hydrocarbons associated with petrogenic sources. Hence the dominant sources for the PAHs is most likely derived from petroleum seepage and or coal mining. Long-range transport of aromatics associated with anthropogenic input is a minor component of the observed PAH levels. The highest concentration of PAH is found in Storfjorden with a value higher than the elevated concentrations earlier reported from the south-eastern Storfjorden and over the Central Bank. The concentration levels of the metals arsenic, lead, chromium and nickel were moderately elevated. Because of sparse information on the natural geomorphology, background metal concentrations are not known for this area. Hence, no quantitative comparison of natural and anthropogenic inputs for metals can be made. However, the most dominant source is assumed to be natural and related to the geological conditions in the area. All PCB levels were low, suggesting a dominant influence of long-range transport of these compounds to the area. Pesticide data showed low contamination of all compounds and suggests a predominant long-range atmospheric source for these pollutants.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project

Time frame

Project time span
1997 - 1998
Data collection
1997 - 1997
Data processing
1998 - 1998
Data reporting
1998 - 1998

Contact information

Contact person
Kristina Olsson
Akvaplan-niva Polar Environmental Centre N-92 96 Tromsoe Norway
+47 77 75 03 00
+47 77 75 03 01
Other project contacts
Salve Dahle (Akvaplan-niva) Anita Evenset(Akvaplan-niva)

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Heavy metals
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Petroleum hydrocarbons
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Marine sediments


Regions studied
Other areas
Stations or areas where observations are made

Area : Station - Depth (m) - Equipment - Date - Latitude (N) - Longitude (E) Svalbard, West : Kongsfjorden 0 - 301 - box corer - 04.09.97 - 79o02' - 11o08' Kongsfjorden 1 - 363 - box corer - 04.09.97 - 79o01' - 11o22' Kongsfjorden 3 - 290 - box corer - 04.09.97 - 78o56.8' - 11o56.8' Kongsfjorden 5 - 80 - van Veen grab - 04.09.97 - 78o55' - 12o07' Svalbard, North : Questrenna 804 - 2224 - gravity corer - 08.09.97 - 81o13' - 15o39' Svalbard, East : Lomfjorden 817 - 56 - van Veen grab - 09.09.97 - 79o32.9' - 17o41.2' Hinlopen 825 - 160 - van Veen grab - 10.09.97 - 79o17.9' - 19o19.8' Erik Eriksen stretet 835 - 107 - van Veen grab - 11.09.97 - 79o2.8' - 23o36' Erik Eriksen stretet 839 - 80 - van Veen grab - 11.09.97 - 79o17.8' - 24o56.4' Erik Eriksen stretet 842 - 219 - van Veen grab - 11.09.97 - 79o02' - 25o30' Kong Karls Land 846 - 117 - van Veen grab - 11.09.97 - 78o54.5' - 26o9.8' Svalbard, South-east : Storfjorden 870 - 109 - van Veen grab - 13.09.97 - 78o13' - 19o28'

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
Data centres
Marine TDC
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Olsson, K., V. Savinov, B. Gulliksen, and S. Dahle 1998. Contaminants in marine sediments, Svalbard 1997, Akvaplan-niva report 414.98.1396
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

Sampling program: The contaminant data presented are based on analysis of surface sediment samples collected in the Svalbard area onboard R/V Jan Mayen, 3-16th of September 1997 . Sampling equipment and procedure: Sediment cores from the continental shelf slope north of Svalbard (sta. 804) were collected by a Bowers and Connelly MIDICORER MARK II 400 multicorer with an inner diameter of 100 mm. Triplicate cores were taken, of which one was analysed for PAH, PCB and pesticides, one for TOC and grain size, and one for metals. The surface layer (0-1 cm) was analysed for contaminants as part of this project. A 40 kg 0.1 m2 van Veen grab was used to collect surface sediment samples from fjords and in the straits. Triplicate grabs were taken on each station, of which one was analysed for PAH, PCB and pesticides, one for TOC and grain size, and one for metals. Sub-samples of the 0-2 cm layer were collected from the grab samples with a plastic spoon for metal analysis and a stainless steel spoon for PAH, PCB, pesticide, TOC, and grain size analysis. Samples for analysis of organic contaminants were stored in specially cleaned glass jars while plastic boxes or bags were used for sediments to be analysed for metals, grain size, total organic carbon and total nitrogen content. All samples were frozen at -20 deg. C immediately after collection and processing. Cross contamination of the samples from discharges or greased equipment onboard the ships or sampling equipment was carefully avoided. Samples without clear water above the sediment surface, i.e. samples with disturbed sediment surfaces, were rejected. Analytical procedures: 1) Granulometry, total organic carbon and total nitrogen (Geogruppen & Planteforsk, Tromsø, Norway) The content of fine grained material (silt and clay, <63 micro-m) was determined gravimetrically after wet sieving of the sample. The results presented in this report refer to the dry weight contribution (%) of the whole mud fraction. The water content of the sediment was determined after drying to constant weight (for 4 days at 50 deg. C). Samples analysed for Total Organic Carbon (TOC) were pre-treated with HCL to remove inorganic carbon, and following catalytic (Fe, Cu) combustion at 480 deg. C, the content of CO2 gas formed was quantified by IR detection using a LECO IR 212 carbon analyser. The results are given as percentage weight TOC with a relative accuracy of the determination within the standard deviation of the certified values. The content of Total Nitrogen (TN) was determined according to a modified Kjeldahl method by pre-digestion of the sample with H2SO4, K2SO4 and Se (catalyst), followed by spectrophotometric detection of the NH4 complex formed using a ChemLab autoanalyser. The result is given as percentage Kjeldahl-N on dry weigh basis, with a relative accuracy of the determination within the standard deviation of the certified values. The laboratory is accredited with data quality assurance according to the European NS-EN 45001 norm. 2) Metals (Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO), Canada) The total content of Al, Cr, Cu, Li, Pb, Zn, , Sb, As, Ba, Be, B, Co, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Se, Sr, Tl, U, and V were determined from a dry and homogenised sample by Induced Couple Plasma MS (ICP-MS) detection after total metal digestion with HF (Rantala & Loring 1989). The total concentration of Hg was determined by cold vapour AA, following digestion, and the total content of Cd was determined by graphite-furnace ASS. NRCC certified reference material (MESS-2 and BCSS-1) were analysed for quality assurance purposes along with the samples. The relative accuracy of the determination of the elements was within the standard deviation of the certified values. 3) Hydrocarbons (PAH, THC) (UNILAB, Tromsø, Norway) The sediment sample was homogenised in an agate mortar, treated with KOH, and a 1.0 ml solution of seven deuterated PAHs was refluxed for 1.5 h. The sediment fraction was removed by filtration and the elute containing the hydrocarbons and PAHs was extracted with pentane. The extracts were purified by column chromatography using Varian Bond Elute solid phase extraction cartridges containing 500 mg silica. Hydrocarbons and PAHs were eluted with pentane and dichloromethane. Analysis of THC content was performed with a GC/FID equipped with a split/splitless injector and a 25m x 0.32 mm ID CP-Silica 8CD column. The samples were quantified using an external standard, usually a marine petroleum oil. Analysis of PAH were performed with GC/MSD equipped with a split/splitless injector and a 25 m x 0.20 mm ID HP Ultra 1 column. The relative accuracy of the determination of the elements was within the standard deviation of the certified values (appendix 1, table 11). The UNILAB laboratory is accredited as a testing laboratory according to the requirements of the European standards NS-EN 45001 and ISO/IEC Guide 25. The detection and quantification limits for each of the specific components in the PAH analysis are given as LOD (level of detection) and LOQ values (level of quantification) in appendix 1, table 12. The THC analysis is a quantification of the total amount of non-polar petroleum hydrocarbons, in the range of C12 to C35, defined by the different ranges of boiling points (Anon. 1982). The data presented in table 6 are given for individual aromatic compound as well as sum of grouped components. Sum Naphthalene represents the concentration of naphthalene and corresponding C1 to C3 alkyl homologues, and the term is included in sum Aromatics but not in sum PAH. The definition of sum PAH suggested by Molvær et al. (1997), i.e. sum of all tri- to hexa-cyclic aromatic compounds, has been applied in this report to include all components analysed except the two-ringed naphthalene compounds. The term Sum Aromatics applies to the total sum of all aromatic compounds analysed. The sum of naphthalene, phenanthrene and dibenzothiophene together with their C1-C3 alkyl homologues is abbreviated Sum NPD and corresponding percentage to the sum aromatics, NPD %. Benzo(a)pyrene is included in the Molvær et al. (1997) scale as a carcinogenic compound. In addition, other aromatic compounds such as benzo(a)anthracene, the benzo(b)fluoranthenes, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene are potentially carcinogenic according to IARC (1987) and are together with benzo(a)pyrene denoted sum cancin. PAH in table 6. 4) Pesticides and ortho-PCBs (NILU, Kjeller, Norway) PCBs and chlorinated pesticides were determined on samples soxhlet extracted with n-hexane/diethyl ether to which isotope labelled standards had been added. The n-hexane/diethyl fraction was evaporated (Turbovap 500 Zymark evaporator) and dried, following n-nonane addition to prevent losses during evaporation. The dried sample was eluted from a silica column by n-hexane/diethyl ether and recovery standards were added (tetrachloronapthalene and octachloronapthalene).Quantification was performed using splitless high-resolution gas chromatography (Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II) combined with low-resolution negative ion chemical ionisation mass spectrometry (Hewlett-Packard 5989A mass spectrometer, MS-Engine) with He as carrier gas. Quality control was performed in accordance with the EN 45001 quality norm. Detection limits are within 0.1-40 pg/g dw and the uncertainty in the determinations was in the same order as the relative analytical accuracy of the reference material ( 35 % for toxaphene and  20% for the remaining compounds). Recovery percentages for the individual compounds or groups of compounds are given in appendix 1, table 13. The PCB analysis quantifies 33 of the 209 PCB congeners theoretically occurring in the environment and include the most common PCBs, the IUPAC congeners no. 28, 52, 101, 118, 138, 153, and 180. These seven PCB congeners are often referred to as the seven dutch PCBs. The sum of these compounds are denoted sum PCB-7 in table 6. The seven dutch congeners are considered to comprise 40-60 % of the occurring PCB mixture in the environment (de Voogt and Brinkman 1989). The sum of these congeners plus three additional congeners, PCB IUPAC no. 105, 156 and 209 are indicated in the table as sum PCB-10. The samples were also analysed for a selection of persistent organochlorine compounds: hexachlorobenzene (HCB), - and -hexachlorocyclohexane (-HCH and -HCH/Lindane), p,p- and o,p- DDT, DDE and DDD, cis- and trans-chlordane, cis- and trans-nonachlor and toxaphene. 5) Statistical methods The PAH and PCB profile patterns were evaluated by principal component analyses (PCA) for clustering of stations with the similar profiles. The PCA were performed using SYSTAT version 5.01 software (SYSTAT, Inc.) and plots were made using GRAPHER version 1.26 software (Golden Software, Inc.). The principal components (PCs) are formed by linear combinations of the original variables and are orthogonal to each other. Usually, the first two or three PCs account for a large fraction of the total variance and it can be used to represent the original data set. Percentages of compounds in sum of aromatic hydrocarbons, sum PCBs and relative content of PCB congeners were input data for the PCA analyses. The results from the PCA analyses are depicted in combined (score and loading) plots of variables and samples, with the variables represented by arrows from the origin of the plot to the position of the variable scores. The arrows point in the direction of increasing relative contents of the variable, while the lengths of the arrows represent the strength of the increases. 6) Classification of contamination level The criteria set by the Norwegian State Pollution Authority (SFT) to classify the environmental quality of fjords and coastal waters of the Norwegian mainland (Molvær et al. 1997) have been followed to assess the degree of contamination in the surface sediment samples analysed. The method requires that background levels of metals and hydrocarbons are comparable for the different areas discussed. However, the background levels in a specific area is caused by natural sources and can therefore vary between regions. The degree of pollution in the sediments presented is visualised in the tables by use of the colour codes shown in figure 3.

QA/QC Information (what QA/QC procedures are implemented, laboratories involvment in QA/QC activities, model verification/validation routines, etc.)

see above

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

UNIS, Svalbard

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

Benthic fauna in the Kongsfjorden, Svalbard Sabine Cochrane, Akvaplan-niva

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