Líffræðifélag Íslands
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2015

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E85

Elevated levels of sulphur and trace metals revealed in ecosystems in relation to geothermal power plants in Iceland- ecological implications.

Thecla Mutia (1,2,3), Thráinn Friðriksson (5), Sigurður Magnússon (6) and Ingibjörg Svala Jónsdóttir (1, 4)

1. Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Sturlugotu 7, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland, 2. United Nations University, Geothermal Training Programme, Orkustofnun, Grensasvegur 9, Reykjavik, Iceland, 3. Geothermal Development Company Limited, P.O Box 17700 – Nakuru, Kenya, 4. Department of Arctic Biology, University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS, Longyearbyen, Norway, 5. ISOR, Iceland Geosurvey, Grensasvegur 9, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland, 6. Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Urriðaholtsstræti 6-8, 210 Reykjavik, Iceland

Kynnir / Presenter: Thecla Mutia

Tengiliður / Corresponding author: Thecla Mutia (teclamutts@yahoo.com)

The effect of geothermal power plants on terrestrial ecosystems in relation to emissions remains scantily explored. Although development of this energy is regarded as friendly to the environment with effects that can be managed, very little is known on the consequences. The release of the Non Condensable Gases (NCGs) such as H2S and trace elements including arsenic (As), boron (B), antimony (Sb) and mercury (Hg) from these power plants has been reported to have ecological consequences on the surrounding ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Studying the patterns of these element concentrations in widespread plant species around a geothermal power plant area along a distance gradient and wind direction profile will provide a strong indication of potential emission input from these power plants. In this talk, I will discuss the associated effects of two geothermal power plants in Iceland on the ecosystem components, the moss Racomitrium lanuginosum (Hedw) and soil. We hypothesize that the emitted elements will have a higher deposition and accumulation closer to the power plants than further away with higher levels downwind than upwind and around a higher energy output capacity geothermal power plant (single flash) than a lower energy output capacity power plant. The patterns of the moss growth traits along the distance and wind direction gradient will also be discussed. All results are compared to a reference site well out range of geothermal power plants to determine potential potential ecosystem effects around the power plants. The findings of this study are important in guiding the existing mitigation measures to ensure sustainable development.