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Tracing industrial sulfur contributions to atmospheric sulfate deposition in the Athabasca oil sands region, Alberta, Canada


Proemse, BC and Mayer, B and Fenn, ME, Tracing industrial sulfur contributions to atmospheric sulfate deposition in the Athabasca oil sands region, Alberta, Canada, Applied Geochemistry, 27, (12) pp. 2425-2434. ISSN 0883-2927 (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.08.006


Anthropogenic S emissions in the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR) in Alberta, Canada, affect SO4 deposition in close vicinity of industrial emitters. Between May 2008 and May 2009, SO4-S deposition was monitored using open field bulk collectors at 15 sites and throughfall collectors at 14 sites at distances between 3 and 113km from one of the major emission stacks in the AOSR. At forested plots >90km from the operations, SO4 deposition was ∼1.4kg SO4-S ha−1yr−1 for bulk deposition and ∼3.3kg SO4-Sha−1yr−1 for throughfall deposition. Throughfall SO4 deposition rates in the AOSR exceeded bulk deposition rates at all sites by a factor of 23, indicating significant inputs of dry deposition especially under forest canopies. Both bulk and throughfall SO4 deposition rates were elevated within 29km distance of the industrial operations with deposition rates as high as 11.7kg SO4-Sha−1yr−1 for bulk deposition and 39.2kg SO4-Sha−1yr−1 for throughfall at industrial sites. Sulfur isotope ratio measurements of atmospheric SO4 deposited in the AOSR revealed that at a few selected locations 34S-depleted SO4, likely derived from H2S emissions from tailing ponds contributes to local atmospheric SO4 deposition. In general, however, δ34S values of SO4 deposition at distant forested plots (>74km) with low deposition rates were not isotopically different from δ34S values at sites with high deposition rates in the AOSR and are, therefore, not suitable to determine industrial S contributions. However, O isotope ratios of atmospheric SO4 in bulk and throughfall deposition in the AOSR showed a distinct trend of decreasing δ18O-SO4 values with increasing SO4 deposition rates allowing quantification of industrial contributions to atmospheric SO4 deposition. Two-end-member mixing calculations revealed that open field bulk SO4 deposition especially at industrial sites in close proximity (<29km) to the operations is significantly (1759%) affected by industrial S emissions and that throughfall generally contained 49100% SO4 of industrial origin. Hence, it is suggested that δ18O values of SO4 may constitute a suitable tracer for quantifying industrial contributions to atmospheric SO4 deposition in the AOSR.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:atmospheric sulphur, deposition, Athabasca, isotopes
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geochemistry
Research Field:Isotope geochemistry
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Air quality
UTAS Author:Proemse, BC (Dr Bernadette Proemse)
ID Code:98039
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:40
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2015-01-29
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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