I EXPLORATION I

“We are collecting samples of organisms living in the river bed (zoobenthos) and waters (zooplankton, phytoplankton, and bacterioplankton). The state of these four components of the ecosystem will help us understand the current condition of the Norilskaya-Pyasino water system.”

Alexander Tolomeyev, PhD
Senior Researcher
The Institute of Biophysics-Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.

During the first week of fieldwork, an expedition set up by Nornickel and consisting of experts from 14 research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch has covered over 400 km of the route and collected all the necessary samples for detailed analysis. The expedition team has added new participants to its ranks and now comprises 30 experts split into five groups with different tasks and routes.

A team of geophysicists studying permafrost is operating around HPP-3. They use geolocator electrodes to create a 3D map of soils and identify taliks and frozen areas. In addition, they check reliability and durability of the remaining HPP-3 tanks. Specialists in terrestrial ecosystems collect water, sediment, plant and soil samples on a daily basis for further studies. They have already visited nearby rivers and water bodies and travelled by air to the point where the Pyasinа River merges with its tributaries Tareya and Dudypta (near the Kresty settlement).

A group of hydrobiologists and leading experts in permafrost joined the expedition on 4 August. They have examined the area in the vicinity of the fuel spill, the Bezymyanny Stream and the Daldykan River and collected the first samples. The scientists are analysing the contents of water and sediments and studying the food resources available to local fish.

According to Alexander Tolomeyev, PhD in Biology, senior researcher at the Institute of Biophysics of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, their main task is to assess the biota in the region.

“We are collecting samples of organisms living in the river bed (zoobenthos) and waters (zooplankton, phytoplankton, and bacterioplankton). The state of these four components of the ecosystem will help us understand the current condition of the Norilskaya-Pyasino water system,” he said.

Permafrost experts of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences will explore the area spanning 30–50 sq km, check whether the suggestion that global warming made a significant impact on the Arctic Zone is accurate and provide a professional opinion on the current state of permafrost areas. Geochronology specialists will also take part in the expedition to measure the actual background value of a number of indicators such as the amount of metal content accumulated in the soil during the active industrial development of the region.

“We are going to collect core samples at 10–15 m depths of Pyasino and Melkoye lakes and analyse radioactive isotopes to determine the exact age of each layer,” commented Nikolay Yurkevich.

The fieldwork stage will last until 31 August. After that, experts will continue their research at the labs and institutes. The first results of the comprehensive study are expected in November or December 2020.

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