The 1981 snowpack survey in the AOSERP study area

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  • Snow samples were collected in the Athabasca Oil Sands region of northeastern Alberta in mid-January and late February 1981. The snow depth was measured and snow cores were taken at .60 sites around the oil sands plants. Snow sample collectors were set out at six of the sites in mid-January and removed in late February. Quantitative chemical analyses of the samples were carried out by a commercial laboratory. Duplicate samples from nine of the sites were analyzed as an independent cross-check. Concentrations of the major ions (SO4, NO3, Cl-, NH4, K+, H+, Na+, Mg++, ca++) as well as the insoluble (AI, Mn, Ti, V) and soluble (Al, Fe, Ni, V) constituents were determined. Snowpack loadings were computed from the measured concentrations, snowmelt volume, and the area sampled. The amounts of sulphate and nitrate deposited in the snow within 25 km of the oil sands plants have increased by 88 and 27% respectively, since the previous study in 1978. The amounts of insoluble particulates have decreased markedly

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