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Applying Chemometrics to Determine Dispersion of Mine Tailing-Affected Sediments from Submarine Tailing Disposal in Bøkfjorden, Northern Norway


Mine tailing management is one of the largest environmental issues related to mining operation. This study uses chemometrics to assess the dispersion of iron mine tailing-affected sediments in Bøkfjorden, Northern Norway. Metal concentrations (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) and physico-chemical sediment characteristics (conductivity, organic matter, sulphate, chloride, grain size, CaCO3, pH) were analysed in seven sediment cores collected in a transect out of the fjord along with two reference cores. Results of hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis allowed to distinguish between mine tailing-affected and non-affected sediments. Non-affected sediments were especially characterised by high levels of organic matter whilst mine tailing-affected sediments varied significantly in sediment characteristics depending on location in the fjord. Crucial parameters to reveal mine tailing-affected sediments varied between the target metal Fe along with metals of Cd and Mn, albeit less significant. Variations in mine tailing-affected sediment characteristics could be attributed to other anthropogenic activities in the fjord. Despite potential disturbances, chemometrics made it possible to identify dispersion of mine tailing-affected sediments to cover the inner and middle parts of the fjord. The study demonstrates the advantage of applying chemometrics on complex fjord systems, which in this case was used to distinguish mine tailing-affected sediments from areas with elevated levels of metals not necessarily related to the mine.

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The authors would like to thank the captain and crew of R/V Helmer Hanssen as well as the scientific participants for help with coring and core sampling, especially Kari Skirbekk and Noortje Dijkstra from UiT. Malene Grønvold and Ebba Schnell are acknowledged for their assistance in the laboratory of Arctic Technology Centre, DTU.


The Northern Environmental Waste Management (EWMA) project, funded by the Research Council of Norway through NORDSATSNING (grant number 195160) and EniNorgeAS, is gratefully acknowledged for funding.

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Correspondence to Kristine B. Pedersen.

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Simonsen, A.M.T., Pedersen, K.B., Bach, L. et al. Applying Chemometrics to Determine Dispersion of Mine Tailing-Affected Sediments from Submarine Tailing Disposal in Bøkfjorden, Northern Norway. Water Air Soil Pollut 229, 206 (2018).

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  • Submarine mine tailing disposal
  • Metal dispersion
  • Principal component analysis
  • Hierarchical cluster analysis
  • Fjord sediments