CADMIUM GEOCHEMISTRY OF SOILS AND WILLOW IN A METAMORPHIC BEDROCK TERRAIN AND ITS POSSIBLE RELATION TO MOOSE HEALTH, SEWARD PENINSULA, ALASKA

Larry P. Gough, Paul J. Lamothe, Larry J. Drew, Julie A. K. Maier, John H. Schuenemeyer

Abstract


The regional geochemistry of soil and willow over Paleozoic metamorphic rocks in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska is potentially high in cadmium (Cd), and willow, a preferred browse of moose, bioaccumulates Cd. Local moose show clinical signs of tooth wear and breakage and have been declining in population for unknown reasons. Willow leaves (all variants of Salix pulchra) and A-, B-, and C-horizon soils were sampled near 2 mining prospects suspected to be high in Cd. Although Al, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Mo, Ni, Pb, and Zn were examined, our focus in this exploratory study was on the level of Cd in the 3 soil horizons and willow between and within the 2 prospects and their vicinity. We used an unbalanced, one-way, hierarchical analysis of variance (ANOVA) to investigate the geochemistry of soils and willow at various distance scales across the 2 prospect areas that were separated by ~80 km; sites within a location were approximately 0.5 km apart and replicate samples were separated by ~0.05 km. Cd concentration was significantly different in willow between and within sites, and within sites for all soil horizons. Specifically, this exploratory study identified highly elevated levels of Cd in willow growing over Paleozoic bedrock in the Seward Peninsula at both prospects and over the Paleozoic geologic unit in general. Potential negative effects for moose are discussed.


Keywords


Alaska, Alces alces, cadmium, health, mineralized soil, moose, plasma-mass spectrometry, willow

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