Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 159–174 | Cite as

Multi-element geochemical analysis of snow samples: Use of discriminant analysis in interpreting the results

  • Peter W. Abrahams
  • Trevor D. Davies
  • Timothy D. Jickells
  • Martyn Tranter


This paper records the concentrations of major and trace elements determined from snow samples collected during a comprehensive survey undertaken in the Scottish Highlands during the winter and spring period of 1987. The configuration of calculated back-trajectories allowed the samples to be categorized into one of five geographical sectors. Discriminant analysis was used to check the validity of these calculations, to isolate potentially deviant samples, and to predict the possible source of one sample whose back-trajectory could not be computed with confidence. Limitations of the statistical method are discussed, but we conclude that the technique justifies more use by environmental scientists involved in the evaluation of data.


Statistical Method Environmental Management Discriminant Analysis Comprehensive Survey Geochemical Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrahams, P.W., Tranter, M., Davies, T.D., Blackwood, I.L., Brimblecombe, P. and Vincent, C.E.: 1985, ‘The Mobilization of Trace Elements in a Remote Scottish Catchment at the Onset of Snow-Melt’, in: Hemphill, D.D. (Ed.), Trace Substances in Environmental Health, Missouri, pp. 67–78.Google Scholar
  2. Abrahams, P.W., Tranter, M., Davies, T.D., Blackwood, I.L. and Landsberger, S.: 1988, ‘Trace Element Studies in a Remote Scottish Upland Catchment I. Chemical Composition of Snow and Meltwaters’, Water, Air, Soil Pollut. 37, 255–271.Google Scholar
  3. Abrahams, P.W., Tranter, M., Davies, T.D. and Blackwood, I.L.: 1989, ‘Geochemical Studies in a Remote Scottish Upland Catchment II. Streamwater Chemistry During Snow-Melt’, Water, Air, Soil Pollut. 43, 231–248.Google Scholar
  4. Batifol, F.M. and Boutron, C.F.: 1984, ‘Atmospheric Heavy Metals in High Altitude Surface Snows from Mount Blanc, French Alps’, Atmospheric Environ. 18, 2507–2515.Google Scholar
  5. Cryer, R.: 1986, ‘Atmospheric Solute Inputs’, in: Trudgill, S.T. (Ed.), Solute Processes, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., pp. 15–84.Google Scholar
  6. Davies, T.D., Farmer, G. and Barthelmie, R.J.: 1990, ‘Use of Simple Daily Atmospheric Circulation Types for the Interpretation of Precipitation Composition at a Site (Esdalemuir) in Scotland, 1978–1984’, Atmospheric Environ. 24A (1), 63–72.Google Scholar
  7. Davies, T.D., Tranter, M., Jickells, T.D., Abrahams, P.W., Landsberger, S., Jarvis, K. and Pierce, C.E.: 1992, ‘Heavily Contaminated Snowfalls in the Remote Scottish Highlands: A Consequence of Regional-Scale Mixing and Transport’, Atmospheric Environ. 26A (1), 95–112.Google Scholar
  8. Galloway, J.N., Thornton, J.D., Norton, S.A., Volchok, H.L. and McLean, R.A.: 1982, ‘Trace-Metals in Atmospheric Deposition: A Review and Assessment’, Atmospheric Environ. 16, 1677–1700.Google Scholar
  9. Henriksen, A., Skogheim, O.K. and Rosseland, B.O.: 1984, ‘Episodic Changes in pH and Aluminium Kill Fish in a Norwegian Salmon River’, Vatten 40, 255–260.Google Scholar
  10. Howarth, R.J.: 1971, ‘Empirical Discriminant Classification of Regional Stream-Sediment Geochemistry in Devon and East Cornwall’, Trans. Instn. Min. Metall. (Sect. B: Appl. earth sci.) 80, B142-B149.Google Scholar
  11. Howarth, R.J. and Sindling-Larsen, R.: 1983, ‘Multivariate Analysis’, in: Howarth, R.J. (Ed.), Handbook of Exploration Geochemistry, Vol. 2, Statistics and Data Analysis, Elsevier, pp. 207–289.Google Scholar
  12. Jeffries, D.S., Cox, C.M. and Dillon, P.J.: 1979, ‘Depression of pH in Lakes and Streams in Central Ontario During Snowmelt’, J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 36, 640–646.Google Scholar
  13. Jickells, T.D., Davies, T.D., Tranter, M., Landsberger, S., Jarvis, K. and Abrahams, P.W.: 1992, ‘Trace Elements in Snow Samples from the Scottish Highlands: Sources and Dissolved/Particulate Distributions’, Atmospheric Environ. 26A (3), 393–401.Google Scholar
  14. Johnson, R.J.: 1978, Multivariate Statistical Analysis in Geography, Longman.Google Scholar
  15. Keene, W.C., Pszenny, A.A.P., Galloway, J.N. and Hawley, M.E.: 1986, ‘Sea-Salt Corrections and Interpretation of Constituent Ratios in Marine Precipitation’, J. Geophys. Res. 91, 6647–6658.Google Scholar
  16. Norris, J.M. and Barkham, J.P.: 1970, ‘A Comparison of Some Cotswold Beechwoods Using Multiple-Discriminant Analysis’, J. Ecol. 58, 603–619.Google Scholar
  17. Ross, H.B.: 1986, ‘The Importance of Reducing Sample Contamination in Routine Monitoring of Trace Metals in Atmospheric Precipitation’, Atmospheric Environ. 20, 401–405.Google Scholar
  18. Ross, H.B. and Granat, L.: 1986, ‘Deposition of Atmospheric Trace Metals in Northern Sweden as Measured in the Snowpack’, Tellus 38B, 27–43.Google Scholar
  19. Saenz, G. and Pingitore, N.E.: 1990, ‘Characterization of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Areas by Multivariate Statistical Analysis: Case Studies’, Environmental Monitoring Assessment 17, 281–302.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, F.B. and Jeffrey, G.H.: 1975, ‘Airborne Transport of Sulphur Dioxide from the U.K.’, Atmospheric Environ. 9, 643–659.Google Scholar
  21. SPSS Inc.: 1988, SPSS-X User's Guide, 3rd edition, Chicago.Google Scholar
  22. Sullivan, T.J., Christopherson, N., Muniz, I.P., Seip, H.M. and Sullivan, P.D.: 1986, ‘Aqueous Aluminium Chemistry Response to Episodic Increases in Discharge’, Nature 323, 324–327.Google Scholar
  23. Sykes, R.I. and Hatton, L.: 1976, ‘Computation of Horizontal Trajectories Based on the Surface Geostrophic Wind’, Atmospheric Environ. 10, 925–934.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. Abrahams
    • 1
  • Trevor D. Davies
    • 2
  • Timothy D. Jickells
    • 2
  • Martyn Tranter
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Earth StudiesUniversity College of WalesAberystwythU.K.
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichU.K.
  3. 3.Department of OceanographyThe UniversitySouthamptonU.K.

Personalised recommendations