The aim of our study was to test whether surficial geochemical techniques are applicable under arctic conditions where pedogenesis is slow or absent, and where the vegetation is arctic dwarf shrub tundra. To this end, we sampled vegetation and topsoil at a known Zn-Pb-Ag anomaly at Kangerluarsuk, northwest Greenland. This Zn-Pb-Ag mineralization surfaces in part of the test area and is deeply buried in other parts. The surface mineralization could readily be identified by element analysis of the omnipresent plant Salix glauca. The strongest signal came from the pathfinder element Tl. The target elements Pb and Ag gave only weak signals and Zn gave no signal, probably because the cellular concentration of these elements is actively regulated by the plant. The use of regulated plant micronutrients as reference elements gave a small reduction of analytical noise in Tl/Cu and Tl/B concentration ratios at low Tl concentrations which improved identification of the deep mineralization. Pathfinder elements in plants may thus prove useful when combined with a detailed geophysical model. Tl, Zn, Pb and Ag concentrations in topsoil identified the surface mineralization but failed to identify the deep mineralization. This difference between samples of S. glauca and topsoil is probably because target elements from the deep mineralization must be mobile to reach the surface. Mobile elements may be more accessible for ion-exchange and uptake into the plants compared to the recalcitrant and crystalline fraction in the topsoil.
- Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer