Contamination of arctic Fjord sediments by Pb-Zn mining at Maarmorilik in central West Greenland

K. Perner, Th. Leipe, O. Dellwig, A. Kuijpers, N. Mikkelsen, T.J. Andersen, J. Harff

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36 Citations (Scopus)


This study focuses on heavy metal contamination of arctic sediments from a small Fjord system adjacent to the Pb-Zn "Black Angel" mine (West Greenland) to investigate the temporal and spatial development of contamination and to provide baseline levels before the mines re-opening in January 2009. For this purpose we collected multi-cores along a transect from Affarlikassaa Fjord, which received high amounts of tailings from 1973 to 1990, to the mouth of Qaumarujuk Fjord. Along with radiochemical dating by 210Pb and 137Cs, geochemical analyses of heavy metals (e.g. As, Cd, Hg, Pb, and Zn) were carried out. Maximum contents were found at 12 cm depth in Affarlikassaa. After 17 years the mine last closed, specific local hydrographic conditions continue to disperse heavy metal enriched material derived from the Affarlikassaa into Qaumarujuk. Total Hg profiles from multi-cores along the transect clearly illustrate this transport and spatial distribution pattern of the contaminated material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1073
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Black Angel Mine
  • Greenland
  • Lead
  • Maarmorilik
  • Mercury
  • Mining pollution
  • Zinc

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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