Historical records of atmospheric Pb deposition in four Scottish ombrotrophic peat bogs: An isotopic comparison with other records from western Europe and Greenland

J. M. Cloy, J. G. Farmer, M. C. Graham, A. B. Mackenzie, G. T. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

[1] Cores collected from ombrotrophic peat bogs in west central, east central, northeast and southwest Scotland were dated (14C, 210Pb) and analyzed (ICP-OES, ICP-MS) to derive and compare their historical records of atmospheric anthropogenic Pb deposition over the past 2500 years. On the basis of Pb isotopic composition (e.g., 206Pb/207Pb), clear indications of Pb contamination during the pre-Roman/Roman, post-Roman and medieval periods were attributed to the mining and smelting of Pb ores from Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Between the 17th and early 20th centuries, during the industrial period, the mining and smelting of indigenous Scottish Pb ores were the most important sources of anthropogenic Pb deposition at three of the sites. In contrast, at the most southerly site, influences from the use of both British Pb ores and imported Australian Pb ores (in more southern parts of Britain) since the late 19th century were evident. At each of the sites, Australian-Pb-influenced car exhaust emissions (from the 1930s to late 1990s), along with significant contributions from coal combustion (until the late 1960s and onset of the postindustrial period), were evident. Atmospheric anthropogenic Pb deposition across Scotland was greatest (∼10 to 40 mg m−2 a−1) between the late 1880s and late 1960s, increasing southward, declining to 0.44 to 5.7 mg m−2 a−1 by the early 2000s. The records from four peat bogs extend knowledge of the chronology of atmospheric Pb deposition trends across the northern hemisphere, there being general agreement with other environmental archive records from not only Scotland but also other countries in western Europe and Greenland. Nevertheless, during all periods investigated here, the isotopic composition of atmospheric Pb deposition across western Europe and Greenland exhibited variations in the relative importance of different sources of anthropogenic Pb, as well as some differences in timings and magnitudes of anthropogenic Pb contamination, arising from variations in local and regional sources of Pb deposition and possibly climatic regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberGB2016
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number2
Early online date17 May 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Atmospheric deposition
  • lead and lead isotopes
  • ombrotrophic peat


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