Asian dustfall in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon, Canada

In April 2001, a major atmospheric dustfall event occurred in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, Canada. Field samples were collected and analyzed for particle size, mineralogy, chemical composition and Sr, Nd and Pb isotopes. Dusts found above 3000 m had their source in the Gobi desert region of northern China and Inner Mongolia, and were transported to the Yukon following a series of major dust storms that took place in early April. Dusts found below 3000 m had local (Yukon) or mixed source(s). The Asian dusts had a modal volume diameter of 4 μm typical of far-traveled mineral aerosols. However larger (>10 μm) particles were also found at 5000 m, suggesting a very rapid trans-Pacific transport in the mid-troposphere. We estimate that the April 2001 event deposited from 5500 to 6335 tons of dust over an area of 21,000 km2 in the southwestern Yukon, most of which probably fell within a week. Our findings are consistent with instrumental observations and model simulations of the April 2001 event. While the dust cloud was reportedly mixed with volatile pollutants from Asia, we found no evidence of metal pollution associated with the dustfall in the Yukon. Our findings contribute to clarify the dynamics and the geochemical impact of Asian dust long-range transport events, and to better estimate eolian fluxes of dustborne elements (e.g., Fe) to the Ocean associated with such events. They may also assist in identifying past Asian dust events in ice cores drilled from the St. Elias Mountains icefields, to develop a long-term record of their frequency, magnitude and source(s).


Publication status:
Authors: Zdanowicz, Christian, Hall, Gwendy, Vaive, Judy, Amelin, Yuri, Percival, Jeanne, Girard, Isabelle, Biscaye, Pierre, Bory, Aloys

1 January, 2006
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta / 70
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