16 August: In research of heavy metals
The sixteenth day of the expedition was devoted to lectures, group work and sample preparation on board the vessel. Yulia and Anastasia, our resident soil researches woke up feeling refreshed and decided to go straight to work.
- Today we worked on sample preparations. The soil samples we took in the Ledyanaya Gavan Bay have already dried out. We usually dry soil samples in the engine room, then we mortar, sift them and divide them into 10 grams portions for the further analysis.
Yulia Andreeva, Fourth Grade Student, Institute of Nature Science and Biomedicine, said that they also dried soils samples taken on the Bely Nos Cape.
Nowadays Arctic soils are insufficiently explored. But it is a very interesting research area. Soil samples can tell us everything about the pollution on the planet. That includes impacts of industrial centers on the Arctic regions, as a lot of heavy metals accumulate in soil. However our scientists will particularize them in the laboratory on the mainland at a later time, as our on board laboratory is only equipped to measure ph and electroconductivity level.
We asked Yulia how this process works, how can soil accumulate heavy metals here despite the fact that the closest industrial centers are situated far away from this region.
- Air masses move atmospheric pollutants from the regions rich in factories and plants and it has an anthropogenic influence on the Arctic regions. A lot of factories all over the world produce these pollutants.
The presence of heavy metals in the soil means that they are also present in plants, and especially in lichens. If plants contain these sediments animal organisms contain them as well. So all Arctic ecosystem depends on soils conditions. This research is both interesting and urgent because almost nobody has done it before.
The day was coming to its close. We spent the evening watching film and our thoughts went to the adventures of the very first Arctic Floating University expedition. Mikhail Kozhukhov ended the evening with viewing of a film from his trip to France, which we appreciated greatly.
The next morning we had a landing near the Indiga meteorological station at 5:00 a.m. and so both the young explorers and their scientific supervisors ended the night early to gain strength.