To establish a natural background and its temporal and spatial variability for the area around Casey Station in the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica, the authors studied major and trace element concentrations and the distribution of organic matter in marine and lacustrine sediments. A wide range of natural variability in trace metal concentrations was identified between sites and within a time scale of 9 ka (e.g., Ni 5-37 mg/kg, Cu 20-190 mg/kg, Zn 50-300 mg/kg, Pb 4.5- 34 mg/kg). TOC concentrations are as high as 3 wt.% at the marine sites and 20 wt.% at the lacustrine sites, and indicate highly productive ecosystems. These data provide a background upon which the extent of human impact can be established, and existing data indicate negligible levels of disturbance. Geochemical and lithological data for a lacustrine sediment core from Beall Lake confirm earlier interpretation of recent climatic changes based on diatom distribution, and the onset of deglaciation in the northern part of the Windmill Islands between 8.6 and 8.0 ka BP. The results demonstrate that geochemical and lithological data can not only be used to define natural background values, but also to assess long-term climatic changes of a specific environment. Other sites, however, preserve a completely different sedimentary record. Therefore, inferred climatic record, and differences between sites, can be ascribed to differences in elevation, distance from the shore, water depth, and local catchment features. The extreme level of spatial variability seems to be a feature of Antarctic coastal areas, and demonstrates that results obtained from a specific site cannot be easily generalized to a larger area.
application/zip, 4 datasets