International Journal of Geosciences, 2011, 2, 493-501
doi:10.4236/ijg.2011.24052 Published Online November 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
History of the Pollution in Tomsk Region (Siberia, Russia)
According to the Study of High-Moor Peat Formations
Antonina Mezhibor1*, Sergey Arbuzov1, Leonid Rikhvanov1, Francois Gauthier-Lafaye2
1Department of Geoecology and Geochemistry, Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk, Russia
2Centre de Géochimie de la Surface, EOST, CNRS/ULP, Strasbourg, France
Received January 27, 2011; revised June 28, 2011; accepted August 26, 2011
A method that could be used to detect the change of the environment was used to determine the input of trace
elements from the atmospheric fallouts into the biosphere near Tomsk city (West Siberia, Russia) during the
last century. In this study we used high-moor peat formations because of the wide-spread occurrence of bogs
in this region. Investigations of the raised peat bogs in areas with different degree of anthropogenic impact
showed that the distribution of trace elements in the upper parts of peat deposits depends on the location of
bogs towards industrial sources. The highest concentrations of Ca, Fe, Cr, Co, Sc, Hf and rare earth elements
were found in the upper part of the bog located near the city Tomsk. Distribution of trace elements in the
vertical profiles of raised peat deposits near cities Tomsk and Seversk reflects the industrial specialization of
these cities and the dynamic of the atmosphere pollution. Studies of radioactive elements (137Cs, 238Pu, 239Pu)
have indicated their inputs from global fallouts.
Keywords: Atmosphere Pollution, High-Moor Peat, Trace Elements in Peat
1. Introduction
The development of industry and growing requirements
of the mankind result in the environment pollution.
Therefore studies on the determination of the degree of
anthropogenic impact on the environment have been es-
pecially relevant during the last several years. The most
commonly used compartments of the environment for the
studies of anthropogenic contaminations are soil, natural
water and snow. Investigations of these components al-
low us to receive a sufficiently complete characteristic of
an environment state. However analysis and estimation
of the environment change for a long time period require
a considerable data amount.
The study of stratified formations (tree rings, sedi-
ments, glaciers, peat deposits, etc.) is relatively new and
perspective direction of the studies of the ecological con-
dition of environment and its change with time. Stratified
formations are convenient material for the monitoring
research of the aerogenic emissions of pollutants into the
environment as this method does not need many samples
and systematic observations under the environmental
state. Moreover it allows us to follow a transformation
dynamic of the environment for a longer period of time
which considerably exceeds a period of systematic ob-
The method of the study of the biosphere state using
peat deposits has the following advantages:
- wide spreading of bogs in the temperate climate
zone of the northern hemisphere where contami-
nants are mainly concentrated;
- a property of the peat to keep different chemical
elements, that hinders from their migration;
- an opportunity to obtain representative data using
only some peat sections.
Stratified formations like peat deposits were chosen
for the studies as they are widespread in Tomsk region,
where 50% of the territory is marshlands. Raised or om-
brotrophic peat deposits account for approximately 60%
of all peat deposits of Tomsk region. Ombrotrophic peat
deposits are mainly fed by atmospheric fallouts, thus
they are perspective and widespread aerosol reservoirs
[1-14]. Aerosols accumulated on the peatland surface are
well kept by the peat and peat water.
The input of trace elements in peat deposits is deter-
mined first of all by the mineral composition of the un-
derlying grounds and by surrounding dry lands. The
wind soil erosion is also an important provider of the
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
atmospheric dust (clay minerals). After their transporting
and possible transformation, pollutants are eventually
deposited on the bog surface by wet deposition, by dry or
cloud (fog) water deposition. Because of the property of
weak decomposition the Sphagnum bog can save parti-
cles, fallen from the atmosphere, without change.
The suitability of the raised peat bogs as environ-
mental archives of modern and past atmospheric deposi-
tion is determined by the property of peat to hold for
chemical elements. Usually the elements are not sub-
jected to significant post-depositional dislocations be-
cause of special properties of the peat moss Sphagnum
which forms peat deposits.
Anthropogenic sources of trace elements emissions
into the atmosphere of Tomsk region are such industries
as the thermal power industry (Fe, Sc, Hf, Th, Co, Cr,
Sm, Ce, Rb, Ta, Cs), industry of nuclear-fuel cycle (137Cs,
Sr-90, U, Pu, La, Ce, Sm, Eu, Yb, Lu), petrochemical
and oil industry (Na, Br, Sb), and also the traffic [15].
Global fallouts is a source of a considerable part of ra-
dioactive elements input in peat deposits. The cities
Tomsk and Seversk are objects that determine the eco-
logical situation in the south part of Tomsk region.
2. Material and Methods
A lager part of Tomsk region is a part of the zone of om-
brotrophic sphagnum bogs with the atmospheric nutrition
(60% of all swamps). For the detail sampling and spe-
cialized study three raised peat deposits were chosen
(Figure 1):
- Petropavlovsky Ryam, located in 27 km to the north
from Tomsk city in the direction of predominated
- Vodorazdelnoe, located in 35 km to the north-west
from Tomsk city out of the zone of the direct influ-
ence of Tomsk and Seversk industries;
- Malaya Icha, located in 400 km to the west from
Tomsk out of the influence of any industries.
- For the comparison and for the detection of global
fallouts the published data on two bogs were also
used: Kirsanovskoe [16], located in the south-
western direction from Tomsk, and Bakcharskoe
[17], located in the north-western direction out of
the industrial influence (Figure 1).
The bog Petropavlovsky Ryam is a typical pine-sphag-
num bog. The main vegetation is represented by the
Sphagnum, Ledum, Andromeda and Pinus palusiris. The
bogs Vodorazdelnoe and Malaya Icha are also typical for
Tomsk region. The botanical composition of the studied
sections is presented at the Figure 2. The studied bogs
are defined by the typical botanical composition in the
upper part, including the bog Malaya Icha [18].
The upper parts of the peat bogs were sampled to the
Figure 1. Location of studied peat deposits in Tomsk r e g ion.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
(a) (b)
Figure 2. Botanical composition of the sections of the bogs: (a) Petropavlovskiy Ryam, (b) Vodorazdelnoe.
depth of 30 cm by the method of the trial pit. Below this
interval samples were collected using geological peat
drill (with a volume of 50 cm3) to the bottom of the peat
deposits. Intervals of sampling were ranged from 2 to 10
cm (at the upper part of the peat bogs) to 25 cm (below
100 cm).
The samples were dried at room temperature and than
were reduced to powder. After that the moisture, degree
of decomposition and botanical composition were deter-
mined in all samples.
For analytical investigations of peat the method of in-
strumental neutron-activation analysis (INAA) is more
perspective as it does not need for special sample prepa-
ration and has a low detection limit [19]. Analysis of the
peat samples was realized at the Nuclear-Geochemical
Laboratory of the Department of Geoecology and Geo-
chemistry of Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) (ana-
lysts A.F. Sudyko and L.V. Bogutslaya). The laboratory
works on the basis of the nuclear reactor IRT-T of the
Research Institute of Nuclear Physics of TPU. The ab-
sence of chemical preparation excludes errors from the
influx and removal of chemical elements with reagents.
The density of thermal neutron flux was 2·1013 neutron·
(cm2·sec)–1, duration of the exposure was 20 hours. The
measurement was carried out at the multi-channel ana-
lyzer of impulse AMA 02F with the semiconducting Ge-
Li detector.
The quality of the INAA is confirmed by the results of
the analysis of standard samples of comparison (Table
The specific activity measurements for 137Cs and 210Pb
were carried out by the gamma-spectrometric analysis
[20]. The specific activity measurements for Pu were
carried out by the alpha-spectrometric analysis [20]. For
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Table 1. Contents of trace elements in the international standards USGS CLB-1.
Methods Recom. Inform. INAA(Tomsk)
value error value error
Minor elements % %
Fe AAS, INAA 0.874 0.050 0.87
Na INAA, FES 0.017 0.002 0.25
Ca IDMS, INAA, FES, XRF 0.157 0.01 0.19
Trace elements mg/g mg/g
As HGAAS 13 11.0
Cr INAA, ICP-AES 9.7 1.2 9.74
Th IDMS, INAA 1,40 1.62
U IDMS, INAA 0,55 0.55
V INAA 12.0 1.0
Zn AAS, IDMS, INAA 48.0 4.0 49.2
Sb INAA 1,50 1.38
Ce INAA 10.0 1.6 10.2
Co INAA, FES 7.0 0.7 6.64
Sc INAA 2.0 0.1 1.88
Rb IDMS, INAA, FES 5.2 0.9 5.5
Ba INAA 34.0 5.0 40.0
La INAA 5,00 4.8
these measurements only the upper parts of the peat
cores were used (100 cm from the surface), taking into
consideration the anthropogenic nature of radiocesium
and plutonium and short half-live period of 210Pb.
3. Results and Discussion.
The bog Petropavlovsky Ryam was chosen as the main
object for the research as it is located near the industrial
zone—Tomsk-Seversk industrial agglomeration. Contents
of most trace elements in the peat samples of the upper
part of this bog are significantly higher than in other
bogs (Table 2). The ash yield is also high and riches
14% in the interval ranged from 17 to 19 cm. Concentra-
tions of trace elements in the other studied bogs are ap-
proximately equal. There are some differences in con-
centrations of Cr, Fe, Br, Sr, La and Au (Table 2).
The highest concentrations of all studied elements in
the bog Petropavlovsky Ryam are characteristic for the
interval ranged from 17 to 19 cm, which corresponds to
the period of the intensive nuclear tests in the atmosphere
in 1961-1963 (according to the 210Pb measurements in
this interval [20]) (Figure 3(a)). High concentrations of
trace elements in the upper part of this bog, which cor-
responds to the 2nd part of the 20th century, are explained
by the influence of industries of the cities Tomsk and
Seversk. High contents of many trace elements in the
peat bogs can be a result of coal combustion: As, Ba, Co,
Cr, Sb, Ce, La, U, Rb, Th, Ag [21, 22]. For example,
emissions of Cr from coal combustion are 44% from
all anthropogenic sources in the atmosphere [22]. Ba, Sr,
Rb, U, Th, Au and lanthanides are the elements charac-
teristic for coals of Kuznetsky coal basin [23], which
have been used at thermal power stations of the cities.
High concentrations of Sb, Na and Br are probably con-
nected with the petroleum-chemical plant, situated to the
north of Tomsk [24].
Vodorazdelnoe bog is situated out of the zone of the
intensive impact of the Tomsk-Seversk industrial ag-
glomeration. The bog is also located close to it and is
also subjected to the pollution but to a lesser degree than
the bog Petropavlovsky Ryam. These two bogs well re-
flect the beginning of the industrial development at the
second part of the 20th century, according to the accumu-
lation of Ca, Fe, Cr, Co, Sc, Hf and rare earth elements
(Figures 3(a) and (b)). The accumulation of many trace
elements in the upper part of the peat bogs (the upper 25
cm for the bog Petropavlovsky Ryam and 50 cm for the
bog Vodorazdelnoe) indicates this.
In the sections of the peat deposits Kirsanovskoe and
Bakcharskoe which are located out of the industrial in-
fluence zone there have not been found high contents of
trace elements in the upper parts of peat bogs excepting
the interval corresponding to the period of the intensive
nuclear tests in 1961-1963 (Figures 3(c) and (d)).
The comparison of average contents of trace elements
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Table 2. Mean concentrations of trace elements in the upper 50-cm layer of the peat deposits.
Mean contents of trace elements, ppm
Malaya Icha Bakcharskoe Kirsanovskoe Vodorazdelnoe Petropavlovskiy Ryam
Na (%) 0.03 0.04 - - 0.09
Ca (%) 0.24 0.57 - - 0.43
Sc 0.33 0.40 0.61 0.49 1.61
Cr 3.3 2.8 4.0 9.1 14.7
Fe (%) 0.12 0.27 0.18 0.17 0.46
Co 0.34 1.11 0.87 0.81 2.77
Br 6.8 16.8 1.5 7.1 4.6
Rb 6.9 6.0 3.8 - 11.4
Sr 25.0 52.3 16.2 - 59.3
Sb 0.17 0.22 0.89 0.35 0.39
Cs 0.14 0.31 0.22 0.19 0.92
Ba 35.0 49.5 26.4 - 117.0
La 0.88 1.00 1.42 2.22 3.74
Ce 1.7 2.7 - 2.2 9.1
Sm 0.17 0.29 - 0.33 0.69
Eu 0.04 0.04 - 0.08 0.17
Tb 0.02 0.03 - 0.04 0.11
Yb 0.09 0.08 0.13 0.13 0.37
Lu 0.02 0.01 - 0.01 0.05
Hf 0.09 0.11 0.24 0.30 0.76
Ta 0.03 - - - 0.21
Au 0.004 0.31 - 0.01 0.004
Th 0.25 0.27 0.38 0.33 1.7
U 0.12 0.08 0.22 0.24 0.66
Ad (%) 2.2 3.0 3.9 4.0 5.9
Ad—ash yield; “-”—an element has not been determined.
in the upper 50-cm layers of the peat sections showed a
regular changing of element concentrations depending on
the location of the studied bogs (Figure 4). Thus, the
highest concentrations of trace elements accumulated in
the upper part of the Petropavlovskiy Ryam bog, which
is closest to the cities Tomsk and Seversk. The bog Ma-
laya Icha was used as a background as it is located far
from industrial regions. This bog is characterized by the
lowest element concentrations (Figures 3(e ) and 4).
Comparing the bogs of the territories with different
degree of industrial load a regular variation of trace ele-
ments in the upper parts of peat deposits depending on
the location of the bogs has been noticed. The bog Petro-
pavlovsky Ryam is subjected to the maximum degree of
contamination (Figure 4).
Taking into account the close location of the Siberian
Chemical Combine (SCC, the enterprise of nuclear fuel
cycle) in Seversk to the bog Petropavlovsky Ryam the
concentrations of cesium and plutonium were determined
[20]. These elements are “indicative” trace elements for
the industry of SCC.
High concentrations of radioactive cesium were fixed
in some intervals: from 5 to 7 cm, from 11 to 13 cm,
from 15 to 17 cm, and from 17 to 19 cm (Figure 5). The
last one corresponds to 1961-1963. The others are proba-
bly connected with the work of SCC. At the peat bog
Kirsanovskoe the high cesium concentration is only
found in one interval ranging from 7 to 12 cm (Figure 6),
which corresponds to the early 60s [16].
Plutonium distribution in the peat deposit Petropav-
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0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0 0.5 1 1.5
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0 0.5 1 1.5
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0 0.5 1 1.5
0 0.5 1 1.5
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
Figure 3. Distribution of some trace elements in peat bogs: (a) Petropavlovsky Ryam; (b) Vodorazdelnoe; (c) Kirsanovskoe
(according to the data of V.M. Gavshin et al., 2003); (d) Bakcharskoe (according to the data of V.A. Bobrov et al., 2006; (e)
Malaya Icha.
Figure 4. Average concentrations of some trace elements in
the upper 50-cm layer of the peat deposits: 1—Petropav-
lovsky Ryam, 2—Vodorazdelnoe, 3—Kirsanovskoe, 4—Bak-
charskoe, 5—Malaya Icha.
lovsky Ryam has three peaks in the intervals (Figure 7):
- from 19 to 21 cm (1961-1963, period of the inten-
sive nuclear tests);
- from 13 to 15 cm (corresponding to the late 70s).
- from 7 to 9 cm (the beginning of the 90s).
The first interval with the highest plutonium concen-
trations has both the local and global sources of pluto-
nium fallouts and other two intervals have probably the
local source [20]. The interval ranged from 7 to 9 cm in
the distribution of radioactive elements reflects the inci-
dent at SCC in 1993.
The fallouts of the Siberian Chemical Combine in-
Figure 5. Distribution of cesium in the section of the bog
Petropavlovsky Ryam.
clude a wide range of contaminating trace elements. Be-
sides radioactive elements there are high concentrations
of lanthanides in the fallouts of SCC [25].
4. Conclusions
Peat formations are unique ecosystems which can save
the history of environmental pollution, which make them
suitable for environmental monitoring. Studies of raised
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0.0 0.5 1 1.5
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJG
Figure 6. Distribution of cesium in the section of the bog
Kirsanovskoe (according to the data of V.M. Gavshin et al.,
Figure 7. Distribution of plutonium isotopes in the section
of the bog Petropavlovsky Ryam.
peat formations in Tomsk region showed the industrial
pollution near the city Tomsk. High concentrations of
trace elements in the upper part of peat formations indi-
cate this.
The input of many of trace elements in peat bogs is re-
alized from coal combustion: Ba, Sr, Rb, U, Th, Au, lan-
thanides and others. Radioactive elements and lantha-
nides are characteristic for the releases of enterprises of
nuclear-fuel cycle such like SCC.
Concentrations of most elements in the peat of
Petropavlovskiy Ryam bog have begun to increase after
the 2nd World War. That was connected with the inten-
sive development of the industry during that period. All
elements have the peaks in the interval ranging from 17
cm to 19 cm, which corresponds to the period of 1961-
1963. The peaks of the same period are characteristic for
the bogs Vodorazdelnoe, Kirsanovskoe and Bakchar-
The studies on plutonium and cesium concentrations
revealed global pollution from nuclear weapon tests in
5. Acknowledgements
The research was supported by the grant of the Ministry
of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
(Number P1324, 11.06.2010)
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