Trace elements in winter snow of the Dolomites (Italy): A statistical study of natural and anthropogenic contributions

P. Gabrielli, G. Cozzi, S. Torcini, P. Cescon, C. Barbante

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Knowledge of the occurrence of trace elements deposited in fresh alpine snow is very limited. Although current sources of major ionic inorganic species have been well established, this is not the case for many trace elements. This manuscript attempts to reconstruct the origin of Ag, Ba, Bi, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mo, Mn, Pb, Sb, Ti, U, V and Zn in winter surface snow, extensively collected in the Dolomites region (Eastern Alps, Italy). Sampling of surface snow was conducted weekly during the winter 1998 at 21 sites at altitudes ranging from ∼1000 to ∼3000 m. This led to a remarkable dataset of trace element concentrations in surface snow from low latitudes. Here we show a preliminary statistical investigation conducted on the 366 samples collected. It was found that V, Sb, Zn, Cd, Mo and Pb have a predominantly anthropogenic origin, linked to the road traffic in the alpine valleys and the nearby heavily industrialised area of the Po Valley. In addition, the occasionally strong Fe and Cr input may reflect the mechanical abrasion of ferrous components of the vehicles. However, much of the Fe along with Mn, U and Ti originates primarily from the geological background of the Dolomites. A marine contribution was found to be negligible for all the trace elements. The origin of other trace elements is less clear: Ag can be possibly attributed to a predominantly anthropogenic origin while Cr, Co, Cu and Ba are usually from crustal rocks but different than the Dolomites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1504 - 1509
Number of pages6
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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