Geochemistry International

, Volume 56, Issue 12, pp 1276–1288 | Cite as

Major and Trace Element Compositions of Hummocky Frozen Peatlands in the Forest–Tundra of Northeastern European Russia

  • R. S. VasilevichEmail author


The major and trace element compositions of stratified frozen peatlands in the forest–tundra of Northeastern European Russia were determined for the first time. The upper level of trace element accumulation was confined to the active (seasonally thawed) layer owing to airborne contamination over a long time span and related to the bioaccumulation of Hg, Cd, Pb, Cu, and other heavy metals (HMs) by plants and humus materials. The character of element accumulation and migration in the active layer is controlled by the stability of HM humates. Under high-acidity conditions, HMs are highly mobile and migrate to the lower boundary of the active layer, which is indicated by an increase in the fraction of water-soluble forms of a number of elements. Analysis with a scanning electron microscope revealed the presence of spherical and semispherical particles up to 1 μm in size containing Pb, Zn, Cr, and Ni in the upper peat levels, which indicates an anthropogenic source of their input owing to long-distance and local transport of air masses. The central level of element accumulation was confined to peat layers in the permafrost zone (60–120 cm), where enrichment in As and Cd relative to the mean contents in the Earth’s crust (and approximate permissible concentrations, APC, for soils) and accumulation of Fe, Al, S, and siderophile elements were observed. The source rocks of the peatlands are loams enriched in Cd, Zn, and As. The statistical analysis of relations of the contents of major and trace elements in the stratified peat horizons with the composition of peat-forming materials showed a significant contribution of the biogenic accumulation of elements.


cryolithozone peat heavy metals major elements geochemical barriers humic and fulvic acids peat forming systems 



This study was financially supported by State Assignment Theme no. AAAA-A17-117122290011-5 and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. MOL-A 16-35-00218.


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biology, Komi Research Center, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of SciencesSyktyvkarRussia

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