Articles | Volume 10, issue 11
Research article
15 Nov 2017
Research article |  | 15 Nov 2017

Estimating chemical composition of atmospheric deposition fluxes from mineral insoluble particles deposition collected in the western Mediterranean region

Yinghe Fu, Karine Desboeufs, Julie Vincent, Elisabeth Bon Nguyen, Benoit Laurent, Remi Losno, and François Dulac

Abstract. In order to measure the mass flux of atmospheric insoluble deposition and to constrain regional models of dust simulation, a network of automatic deposition collectors (CARAGA) has been installed throughout the western Mediterranean Basin. Weekly samples of the insoluble fraction of total atmospheric deposition were collected concurrently on filters at five sites including four on western Mediterranean islands (Frioul and Corsica, France; Mallorca, Spain; and Lampedusa, Italy) and one in the southern French Alps (Le Casset), and a weighing and ignition protocol was applied in order to quantify their mineral fraction. Atmospheric deposition is both a strong source of nutrients and metals for marine ecosystems in this area. However, there are few data on trace-metal deposition in the literature, since their deposition measurement is difficult to perform. In order to obtain more information from CARAGA atmospheric deposition samples, this study aimed to test their relevance in estimating elemental fluxes in addition to total mass fluxes. The elemental chemical analysis of ashed CARAGA filter samples was based on an acid digestion and an elemental analysis by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and mass spectrometry (MS) in a clean room. The sampling and analytical protocols were tested to determine the elemental composition for mineral dust tracers (Al, Ca, K, Mg and Ti), nutrients (P and Fe) and trace metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, V and Zn) from simulated wet deposition of dust analogues and traffic soot. The relative mass loss by dissolution in wet deposition was lower than 1 % for Al and Fe, and reached 13 % for P due to its larger solubility in water. For trace metals, this loss represented less than 3 % of the total mass concentration, except for Zn, Cu and Mn for which it could reach 10 %, especially in traffic soot. The chemical contamination during analysis was negligible for all the elements except for Cd, which has a very low concentration in dust. Tests allowed us to conclude that the CARAGA samples could be used to estimate the contents of nutrients and trace metals in the limits of loss by dissolution. Chemical characterization of CARAGA deposition samples corresponding to the most intense dust deposition events recorded between 2011 and 2013 has been performed and showed elemental mass ratios consistent with the ones found in the literature for Saharan dust. However, the chemical analysis of CARAGA samples revealed the presence of some anthropogenic signatures, for instance high Zn concentrations in some samples in Lampedusa, and also pointed out that mineral dust can be mixed with anthropogenic compounds in the deposition samples collected on Frioul. Results showed that the chemical analysis of CARAGA ashed samples can be used to trace the origins of elemental deposition. The elemental atmospheric fluxes estimated from these chemical analyses of samples from the CARAGA network of weekly deposition monitoring constitute the first assessment of mass deposition fluxes of trace metals and P during intense dust deposition events at the scale of the western Mediterranean Basin. The mass fluxes strongly depend on the distance from dust sources and the most intense events, while proximity from anthropogenic sources strongly impacted the masse fluxes of Zn and Cu at Lampedusa and Frioul.