Mine tailing management is one of the largest environmental issues related to mining operation. This study uses chemometrics to assess the dispersion of iron mine tailing-affected sediments in Bøkfjorden, Northern Norway. Metal concentrations (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) and physico-chemical sediment characteristics (conductivity, organic matter, sulphate, chloride, grain size, CaCO3, pH) were analysed in seven sediment cores collected in a transect out of the fjord along with two reference cores. Results of hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis allowed to distinguish between mine tailing-affected and non-affected sediments. Non-affected sediments were especially characterised by high levels of organic matter whilst mine tailing-affected sediments varied significantly in sediment characteristics depending on location in the fjord. Crucial parameters to reveal mine tailing-affected sediments varied between the target metal Fe along with metals of Cd and Mn, albeit less significant. Variations in mine tailing-affected sediment characteristics could be attributed to other anthropogenic activities in the fjord. Despite potential disturbances, chemometrics made it possible to identify dispersion of mine tailing-affected sediments to cover the inner and middle parts of the fjord. The study demonstrates the advantage of applying chemometrics on complex fjord systems, which in this case was used to distinguish mine tailing-affected sediments from areas with elevated levels of metals not necessarily related to the mine.
- Fjord sediments
- Hierarchical cluster analysis
- Metal dispersion
- Principal component analysis
- Submarine mine tailing disposal