A 10,000-year record of trace metal and metalloid (Cu, Hg, Sb, Pb) deposition in a western Alpine lake (Lake Robert, France): Deciphering local and regional mining contamination

Francoise Elbaz-Poulichet, S. Guédron, Anne-Lise Develle, Remi Freydier, Vincent Perrot, Magali Rossi, Christine Piot, Sophie Delpoux, Pierre Sabatier

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Concentrations of trace metals and metalloids (Cu, Hg, Sb, Pb), major elements, stable Pb and C isotope ratios, total organic carbon (TOC), C/N atomic ratios, were analyzed in two sediment cores encompassing 10,000 years of sedimentation sampled in Lake Robert (French Alps). The results showed that the establishment of a soil cover and vegetation during the Holocene climatic optimum increased Cu and Hg deposition in sediments. Results also enabled reconstruction of the history and local vs regional origins of pollution. During the Bronze Age (1800–1000 BC), Cu mining activities increased Hg and Sb accumulation rates (AR) by a factor of 7 (Hg) and 9 (Sb) compared to pre-Bronze Age values. The rise in Hg AR was equivalent to that of the industrial era highlighting a major local Hg point source not recorded in regional archives. During the Iron Age, Pb pollution was attributed to Sicilian ores whereas during the Roman Empire Pb pollution had the isotopic signature of Spanish Pb ores. During the Medieval period (ca. AD 1200), Pb and Hg pollution was due to the exploitation of the local Ag–Pb mines. Finally, during the industrial era, metal accumulations rates were 90 (Pb), 5 (Hg) and 20 (Sb) times higher than those in the pre-Bronze Age. The isotopic composition of Pb reflected mixed sources including industrial Pb and gasoline Pb. Synchronously, the increase in Sb and Hg pollution is attributed to global and regional atmospheric pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106076
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume228
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the municipality of Chamrousse for coring authorization and Chamrousse ski resort for access to Lake Robert. 14C analyses were acquired thanks to the CNRS-INSU ARTEMIS national radiocarbon AMS measurement program at the Laboratoire de Mesure 14C (LMC14) of the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission) Institute at Saclay. The authors thank the Environnement, Dynamique et Territories de Montagne for the X-ray fluorescence analyses. We also greatly acknowledge G. Sarret for providing soil and tailing samples from the Brandes mine and F. Giraud and E. Janots, of the Mineralogical Collection of the Grenoble Observatory of Earth Sciences (OSUG) for providing Chalcopyrite (N°255) samples. Thank also to R. Buscail, CEFREM Perpignan for providing the N data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

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