This study assessed whether trace elements present at Deception Island, an active submarine volcano in the Antarctic Peninsula, show enhanced biological availability to the local marine community. Using a weak acid extraction method to dissolve organic material and leach associated but not constitutive trace elements of sediments, fifteen elements were measured from seafloor sediment, seawater particulates, and tissues of benthic (bivalves, brittlestars, sea urchins) and pelagic (demersal and pelagic fishes, krill) organisms collected in the flooded caldera. The highest element concentrations were associated with seafloor sediment, the lowest with seawater particulates and organism tissues. In the case of Ag and Se, concentrations were highest in organism tissue, indicating contamination through the food chain and biomagnification of those elements. The elements Al, Fe, Mn, Sr, Ti, and to a lesser extent Zn, were the most concentrated of the trace elements for all sample types. This indicates that the whole ecosystem of Deception Island is contaminated with trace elements from local geothermal activity, which is also reflected in the pattern of element contamination in organisms. Accordingly, element concentrations were higher in organisms collected at Deception Island compared to those from the neighboring non-active volcanic King George Island, suggesting that volcanic activity enhances bioavailability of trace elements to marine organisms. Trace element concentrations were highest in digestive tissue of organisms, suggesting that elements at Deception Island are incorporated into the marine food web mainly through a dietary route. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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