Anthropogenic effects on the marine environment adjacent to Palmer Station, Antarctica


Localized contamination from research-related activities and its effects on macrofauna communities in the marine environment were investigated at Palmer Station, a medium-sized Antarctic research station. Relatively low concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; 32–302 ng g-1) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs; 0.9–8.9 μg g-1) were detected in sediments adjacent to the sewage outfall and pier, where most human activities were expected to have occurred, and at even lower concentrations at two seemingly reference areas (PAHs 6–30 ng g-1, TPHs 0.03–5.1 μg g-1). Elevated concentrations of PAHs in one sample taken in one reference area (816 ng g-1) and polychlorinated biphenyls (353 ng g-1) and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (3.2 and 25.3 ng g-1) in two samples taken adjacent to the sewage outfall indicate spatial heterogeneity of localized sediment contamination. Limpet (Nacella concinna) tissues collected adjacent to Palmer Station had high concentrations of PAHs, copper, lead, zinc and several other metals relative to outlying islands. Sediment and limpet tissue contaminant concentrations have decreased since the early 1990s following the Bahía Paraíso spill. Natural sediment characteristics affected macrofaunal community composition more than contamination adjacent to Palmer Station, presumably because of the low overall contamination levels.



benthic, contamination, limpets, macrofauna, polar, pollution


This study was funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (grant number W913E5-16-C-0006). The funding sources had no involvement in study design, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.


Attribution 4.0 International


Palmer, T.A., Klein, A.G., Sweet, S.T., Montagna, P.A., Hyde, L.J., Wade, T.L. and Pollack, J.B., 2022. Anthropogenic effects on the marine environment adjacent to Palmer Station, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 34(1), pp.79-96.