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A historical record of atmospheric depositional fluxes of contaminants in west-central Scotland derived from an ombrotrophic peat core

Mackenzie, A.B., Logan, E.M., Cook, G.T., and Pulford, I.D. (1998) A historical record of atmospheric depositional fluxes of contaminants in west-central Scotland derived from an ombrotrophic peat core. Science of the Total Environment, 222 (3). pp. 157-166. ISSN 0048-9697 (doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(98)00301-5)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(98)00301-5

Abstract

An ombrotrophic peat core from west-central Scotland was subjected to multi-element analysis and 210Pb dating in order to estimate historical trends in atmospheric deposition of contaminants. The inferred depositional flux of ash (total inorganic material) exhibited small, transient increases from as early as the mid 18th century, followed by a larger increase from the mid 19th century to a pronounced maximum approx. 1960. A significant decrease was observed from the peak ash deposition of 29.2 g m−2 year−1 to the contemporary level of 11 g m−2 year−1, although this is still an order of magnitude greater than the pre-industrial value of 1 g m−2 year−1. Depositional fluxes of a wide range of elements (scandium, copper, arsenic, antimony, samarium, cobalt, bromine, lanthanum and lead) also exhibited major increases from the mid 19th century and peak values in the mid 20th century (approx. 1940–1950). Aluminium, cerium and bromine also showed evidence of transiently increased deposition as early as the mid 18th century. Normalisation of the concentrations of individual elements to that of aluminium confirmed that the peak depositional fluxes in the mid 20th century were not due to increased re-deposition of soil minerals from the atmosphere, but were attributable to other sources of contamination including heavy industry, coal burning and vehicle exhaust emission. Nevertheless, re-deposited soil minerals were estimated to constitute an important fraction of the ash, with peak input at the start of the 20th century and subsequent deposition at a relatively constant level, about half that of the maximum flux. Excellent agreement was observed between the inferred trends in contaminant deposition and the known history of industrial development of the area.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Ombrotrophic peat, 210Pb dating, contaminant depositional fluxes, Scotland
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s):Pulford, Dr Ian and Cook, Prof Gordon
Authors: Mackenzie, A.B., Logan, E.M., Cook, G.T., and Pulford, I.D.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Science of the Total Environment
ISSN:0048-9697
Published Online:26 October 1998

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